Report on Gantha Meeting July 17, 2021

Gantha celebrated the Centenary of the University of Dhaka which started its journey on July 1, 1921, with 3 faculties, 12 departments, 60 teachers and 877students. Gantha members talked about six outstanding alumnae.

Afroza Parveen talked about Fazilatunnessa (1905 - 1976), the first Muslim woman student of the University of Dhaka, the first Muslim woman to get her Master’s from there and in Mathematics. After teaching in Bethune College for some time, she moved to Dhaka after the Partition and became the Principal of Eden College. She was married to Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah’s son Shamsuzzoha. Earlier in life, in 1928, she met Kazi Nazrul Islam who pursued her romantically. However, she rejected him. When she studied at Bethune College, she was the only Muslim student.

Razia Sultana Khan talked about Beggzadi Mahmuda Nasir (1929 - 2015),and read excerpts from her autobiography Tin Desh, Tin Jibon.Beggzadi Mahmuda Nasir founded Central Women’s College and then later Central Women’s University. She worked as Principal of Central Women’s Collegeand later as Vice Chancellor of Central Women’s University.

Principal Hosne Ara Shahed came as a guest speaker to talk about Professor Akhtar Imam (1917- 2009), the first provost of what was then known as Women’s Hall. She was a young widow with three daughters. She was a noble teacher, mother and a gentle woman and loved by all her students. She loved her work and dedicated her life for her students.

Marzia Rahman spoke about Dr Sanjida Khatun (b. 1933), a cultural activist, who, in the early1960s, formed Chhayyanaut– a school for music and dance – with Begum Sufia Kamal. Dr Sanjida Khatuninitiated the celebration of Pahela Baishakh at Ramna Botomul. Her father was Kazi Motahar Hossain and she grew up in a culturally active environment. She worked as a cultural activist during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Dr Sanjida Khatunwas awarded the Ekushe Padak and the Bangla Academy Award among others from Bangladesh as well as the Padma Shri from India.

Dr Niaz Zaman talked about Nadera Begum (1927 - 2013).Nadera Begum was the younger sister of Kabir Chowdhury and Munier Choudhury, and was greatly influenced by the latter’s Left politics. Miss AG Stock, then the Head of the Department of English, was highly impressed by Nadera Begum and spoke about her – though only referring to her by the initial N –in her memoir. Nadera Begum fought for the rights of the fourth-class employees of the University. Along with five male students, she wasexpelled from the university for taking part in the strike. She was also arrested and jailed for two years.
After her marriage, she gave up politics.
Parveen Rahman discussed the life and works of Sayeeda Khanam (1937 – 2020), the first female professional photographer from Bangladesh. She started taking photo sat a time when it was unimaginable for woman to do so. She had two Masters from the University of Dhaka. She worked for Begum as a photographer. She took photos of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Queen Elizabeth, Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa and many other famous personalities.

It was decided that the next meeting will take place on August 21. The main agenda is to discuss the project on women writers of East Bengal/East Pakistan/Bangladesh. Members are requested to write down their ideas to discuss at the meeting.


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