Written by Sairaya Chopra, a grade 12 student
Kamla Bhasin was an Indian developmental feminist activist, poet, author, and social scientist.
She was born on the 24th of April 1946 in Punjab. She recently passed away on the 25th of September 2021, leaving her great legacy behind.
Kamla Bhasin received her MA from Rajasthan University and she later went to Germany to study Sociology of Development at the University of Münster. She started her work at the young age of 24, which revolved around gender, education, human development, and the media.
What did she do?
Even though she was born at a time where women empowerment and equal rights for women did not exist, she had extremely strong feminist believes, one being that feminism is not just a Western concept.
Her views on feminism and equality included “People are not happy with feminism, and even if I call it XYZ, they will still be against it. It is because they mind the fact that we want freedom, we want equality, and there are lots of people, customs, and traditions who don’t want to give women freedom.”
Kamla opposed the gender stereotypical ideals and roles the women in India and other parts of the world faced. During an interview with ‘The Hindi’ in 2013, she stated, “Often religion is used as a shield to justify patriarchy. When you question something, you are told, ‘yeh toh hamara sanskar hai, riwaaj hai (This is our culture, our traditions)’. And when this is done, it means logic has ended, belief has come in.”
After resigning from the UN, where she worked in the Food and Agriculture Organization, she started focusing on ‘Sangat’, her South Asian Feminist Network. During her time with Sangat, she held workshops that focussed on gender, sustainable development, and human rights.
Apart from being a feminist icon, Miss Bhasin is also well known for her writing. One of her most famous books is called “Borders & Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition”, which talks about the challenges women faced after the India-Pakistan Partition.