Prominent women’s rights activist, poet and author Kamla Bhasin passed away on Saturday, September 25.
She was 75 at the time of her death. As per activist Kavita Srivastava, Bhasin took her last breath at around 3 am in the morning.
“Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away around 3am today 25th Sept. This is a big setback for the women’s movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life whatever the adversity. Kamla you will always live in our hearts. In Sisterhood, which is in deep grief (sic),” Kavita Srivastava tweeted.
Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away around 3am today 25th Sept. This is a big setback for the women's movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life whatever the adversity. Kamla you will always live in our hearts. In Sisterhood, which is in deep grief pic.twitter.com/aQA6QidVEl
— Kavita Srivastava (@kavisriv) September 25, 2021
Kamala Bhasin- A Woman Of A Kind
Kamla has been a prominent voice in the women’s movement in India and other South Asian countries since the 1970s.
Born in 1946 in Shahindanwaali village in Punjab, which is now a part of Pakistan, Kamla studied in Rajasthan, and then in the University of Munster in Germany. She returned to India thereafter and started working at Seva Mandir in Rajasthan, where she met late journalist and activist Baljit Malik, whom she later married. The couple divorced, reportedly after instances of domestic violence and infidelity.
She also worked with the United Nations at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Bangkok, Thailand till 1975 and then with Gonoshashtya Kendra, a rural public health organisation in Bangladesh in 1976. When Kamla returned to India, she had a significant part in furthering the movement for women in the aftermath of the Mathura rape case where two policemen had allegedly sexually assaulted a Dalit woman at a police station.
The founder of women’s organisation Jagori, her energies were initially focused on smashing the patriarchy responsible for the dismal state of women. Graduating further, she placed gender in systems and structures which abled gender imbalance and moved a full circle to question the state and elected governments for perpetuating inequalities.
She even appeared in the famous talk show Satyamev Jayate. Her words in the show are still worth revisiting.
Kamla was also known for founding Sangat – A Feminist Network, in 2002 to work with disadvantaged women from rural and tribal communities by means of plays, songs, art etc. She also wrote many books on gender theory and feminism – such as Understanding Gender, What is Patriarchy – that has been translated into over 30 languages.