The 70s: organising women before SUS started


Victory Day, 16th of December 2012.  Photo: Mats Möller

Difficult times after liberation war

Really, it was an extraordinary time seeing the  flag of independence flying in the wind. A feeling of warmth spread in my heart and mind. I can remember the moment when I took off my burka after a long time and I joined the joyful  independence rally together with my colleague Razia Sultana. We sang loudly without fear: ”Amar  sonar Bangla, Ami tomay bhalo bashi”  (Oh my golden Bengal, I love you).

Conditions in post-liberation war-torn Netrakona were similar to other parts of Bangladesh. Meanwhile with limited sources of ability, the Bongo Bondhu – government started to work for reconstruction of the newly liberated Bangladesh, which had suffered  oppression and torture under the Pakistani counter-forces.  Like others around me, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of achieving independence.

Delivery of emergency food to our starving country was blocked by Pakistan, causing a dreadful famine all over in 1974. Peaceful and patriotic people of the country managed to overcome the crisis everywhere.

Emergency centers were also set up in Netrakona. A decision-making meeting was held by the local government in order to set up, arrange and run temporary food distribution centers led by some responsible persons. In this meeting I earnestly on behalf of Mohila Parishod, the women organization, demanded permission and got it to run a female centre.

This food distribution center for  poor mothers and children was set up  close  to our house  at Jahanara Girls High School. 25 members from Mohila Parishod in Netrakona, willingly participated to prepare and distribute chapattis made from wheat flour and boiled milk from powder milk. Every day in average 3 500 mothers and babies received food and the center continued one and half month. Afterwards I was called  ”roti amma ” (bread mumy) in  different areas of Netrakona.

In 1975 the whole family of the Father of the Nation was assassinated. Our work organizing women was stopped. We only used our  time to go from village to village discussing with the women about their lives. Moreover we spent time with our different friends’ families.

Ziaur Rahman was the chief of the army and  after a coup he formed  the government with his  new political party. After some time the Ziaur Rahman – government  established a new womans organization called Jatiya Mohila Sangstha. To activate the organization an order was sent from the government. 

Four of us were deputed to work  against our will for the organization. Apart from myself it was Mrs Rowshon Akhter, Sultana Razia and Jubeda Akhter Khatun all from Netrakona district. I was in charge as a secretary of the organization for five years.  We did establish a training center to train abandoned, separated and poor widows. We took initiatives to do different human development and skill development training courses. We also marketed the products produced by the women so they became self-reliant.

But we left the organization in 1981 as it was against our ideology to work politically for the government. 


These historical snapshots commemorate 30 years of SUS
and the life of founder Rokeya Begum, based on her book
“My way to freedom through the light of experience” and
other background documents. We are publishing snapshots
before and after the 30 years’ceremony to be held in
Netrakona, Bangladesh, on the 2 January 2017.


Delivery of emergency food to our starving country was blocked by Pakistan, causing a dreadful famine all over in 1974.”







”Every day in average 3 500 mothers and babies received food and the center continued one and half month.”