Meeting Minutes of Gantha Meeting 21st August 2021

  • Gantha held a meeting to discuss a future project that it would take up from January 2022. The members came up with several suggestions, and a fruitful and detailed discussion took place.
  • Jackie Kabir presented a paper on an overview of women writers from Bengal. She mentioned how the women in Bengal had always been involved with literary writings, be it the oral songs by village women while doing household chores or the urban women arranging meetings to discuss literature. In ancient Bengal, with the scarcity of female education and early marriage, early childbirth, widowhood, or women-centered writings around themes like the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, Shotidah Protha, and the tribulations of women in general.

 She mentioned in her paper how women writers had contributed significantly to the welfare of women.  Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain founded a school for girls and wrote books like Sultana’s Dream and Oborodhbashini, opening doors for women. And when women’s magazine Begum set foot, it inspired and motivated a new generation of women, and many turned to write to voice their thoughts and concern. Several little magazines like Uttoron, Shamprotic, Protidhoni, and Sundaram also came into the literary scene. Sufia Kamal, a leading poet, and activist worked relentlessly for the empowerment of women.

 In the1970’s,  political turmoil changed not only the socio-political scene but the literary scene as well. Jackie Kabir pointed out how women writers in post-war Bangladesh explicitly wrote about war victims, rape, and mutilation at the hands of Pakistani soldiers during the war and the fate of women aftermath.

RomenaAfaz wrote DosshuBonohar, inspiring a whole generation of new writers.

TaslimaNasrinwas reputably the most controversial Bangladeshi writer who had to go into exile for her writing. Her book like Lozza, Nikhondito, set her apart and sealed her as a    writer who defied men and the rules set by men in a patriarchal society.

In the ’80s and ’90s, there was a flurry of women writers who experimented with different forms and techniques. Writers like Jharna Rahman, Nasrin Jahan brought magic realism, surrealism, the relationship between men and women into their fiction writings.

 The ’90s was a time of globalization– it was a new world for Bengali women writers who were braver than before, bolder than before. ShahnazMunni dealt with topics like sexualism, homosexuality, consideredtaboos. With the beginning of a new era, 2001, Bengali women writers were making names for themselves both at home and abroad, breaking taboos and motivating others.

  No doubt, women have come so far, but many more miles to go, many battles to combat.

  Jackie Kabir’s paper was well-researched and well-written. Gantha members highly appreciated her well-informed and researched paper. Gantha will organize its next meeting on 18th September 2021, and the topic will be “Sharat” or autumn. Nur Quamrun Nahar will conduct the program.