Saturday, July 2, 2011

Begum Roquia Sakhawat Hussain

Begum Roquia Sakhawat Hussain (1880 – December 9, 1932) was a Bengali social worker, writer, and Muslim feminist activist, who was best known for advocating for reform of Muslim laws that limited women’s rights. Founder of the first Muslim girls’ school, Sakhawat Hussain also founded the Anjuman e Khawateen e Islam (Islamic Women’s Association), which held debates and conferences on the status of women and education. She used irony, satire, and humor in her writing, in order to highlight and expose injustices experienced by Bengali-speaking Muslim women.

Begum Roquia was an inspiring figure who contributed much to the struggle to liberate women from the bondage of social malaises. To raise popular consciousness, especially among women, she wrote a number of articles, stories and novels, mostly in Bengali.

She criticized oppressive social customs forced upon women that were based upon the corrupted version of Islam, asserting that women fulfilling their potential as human beings could best display the glory of Allah.

Begum Roquia wrote courageously against restrictions on women in order to promote their emancipation. She believed it would come by breaking the gender division of labor. She rejected discrimination for women in the public arena. She also believed that discrimination would cease only when women were able to undertake whatever profession they chose.


  • Sultana's Dream, a notable early work of feminist science fiction, involving a utopian male/female role-reversal.
  • Oborodhbashini (The woman in captivity)
  • Motichur
  • Paddorag (Essence of the lotus)
  • (unfinished) Narir Adhikar (The Rights of Women), an essay for the Islamic Women's Association
 AWU post and comments at