Men and women, have for years, supported equality. Feminism is against patriarchy, it is not against men."- Kamala Bhasin
Kamala Bhasin, was a prominent flag bearer of the women’s movement in South Asia, born in 1946 in Rajasthan and went to Germany for her higher education, she never knew she was a ‘feminist’ until she heard the word at the age of 27.
Her career in India started as a development activist, dealing with issues such as poverty, the exclusion of the poor. Her aim was to support and help empower the minorities and poor of rural Rajasthan, she was working with Seva Mandir, a Udaipur-based NGO.
Later she started working with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN where her work was focused on supporting NGO initiatives for empowerment of marginalized people, especially women, in South East Asia and South Asia. After quitting this job in 2002, she established the South Asian feminist network Sangat, which works with underprivileged women from rural and tribal communities. She was also one of the founders of Jagori, a civil society organization working for women’s empowerment in Delhi.
She has written several books on gender norms, namely
What is Patriarchy, Feminism & Its Relevance in South Asia,
Borders & Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition,
Understanding Gender, Laughing Matters
Satrangi Ladke and Satrangi Ladkiyan, was published last year, i.e in 2020.
She was also a poetess (including 'Umadti Ladkiyan' and 'Kyunki main ladki hoon, mujhe padhna hai') and has written many slogans(‘Hum Bharat ki Nari hain, Phul Nahin, Chingari hain!’), which have gained major support over the years. If you’ve heard the “Azadi” chant in India or in the movie ‘Gully Boy’, don’t forget, she was a major promoter of the slogan.
She passed away on 25th September 2021, at the age of 75, but her inspiring legacy will always remain with us. Her family, friends, and supporters have very accurately paid their tributes by saying “Rest in Power”.
Here are a few inspiring quotes from her -
“You don't learn feminism from books. You learn it from life. It is an ideology and an action program against patriarchy.“
“Why do we keep saying that feminism is Western? Why do we have this complex that all good things are Western? Men and women, have for years, supported equality. Feminism is against patriarchy, it is not against men.”
“Only if you’re willing to learn and be educated by the people you are there to serve, will you make progress.”
“The first thing we need to ask ourselves is, "Do I believe in the Constitution of India?" If I believe in the Constitution, I have to believe in the equality of men and women. And if I believe it, do I practice it? “
“Feminism, for me, has never been anti-men. It has been anti-patriarchy.”