Nasreen Huq was one of those rare women to whom activism, career and personal life were equally important. She was a true democrat who worked unrelentingly towards establishing the principles of equality and freedom not only in the larger social movements, but also in her personal life.
Although Nasreen Huq died in an accident in 2006, Naripokkho organised a virtual annual Nasreen Huq Memorial Lecture on her birth anniversary, November 18, to keep her memories alive and also to keep up the fight for realising women's rights.
According to a press release, this lecture will be held every year from now on to present and strengthen the women’s movement in Bangladesh and beyond.
Calling for an end to domestic violence and putting greater emphasis on reproductive labour, eminent Indian feminist activist and development practitioner Maitrayee Mukhopadhaya delivered the inaugural lecture titled “Resisting subordination or extending domination: feminist activism between policy influence and movement politics.”
Maitrayee Mukhopadhyaya is an Indian feminist activist and researcher, who has worked in international development for over thirty years. She is among the first generation of gender trainers and advocates and has specialised in citizenship and governance including a critique of gender mainstreaming as a technology of governance.
In her lecture, she talked about feminist activism and women’s development at a local level, among other topics. She emphasised what a feminist in today’s world should do while discussing the politics of emancipation on the one hand and policy influence on the other.
Placing the current social-political climate of the Indian subcontinent in a historical context, she said patriarchal oppression “is structural and not arbitrary”. She also talked about the intersectionalities of gender and race and class by presenting examples of a Dalit woman compared to an upper caste woman in India, or a Chakma woman compared to a Muslim woman in Bangladesh.
She also shed light on the rise of right-wing nationalism and majoritarianism, which, now more than ever, is acutely visible in South Asia. Towards the end of her lecture, in keeping with the spirit of Nasreen Huq’s vision, Mukhopadhyaya said, “I suggest we treat democracy and secularism not as given, but as a resource that we must actively struggle for.”
The welcome address was delivered by Dr Firdous Azim. In her address, she said this lecture series would provide a platform for internationally acclaimed feminists, thinkers and activists to share their thoughts about different facets of women’s movement.
A brief biography of Nasreen Huq was read out by Naripokkho member Tamanna Khan Popi while the question-answer session was conducted by Naripokkho member and gender specialist Maheen Sultan.