Language movement heroines deserve to get recognition
The nationalist movement that has been directly linked to the liberation of Bangladesh from the colonial rule of Pakistan is our Language Movement (Bhasha Andolon) of 1952. We all have heard the tales of our courageous language martyrs and students, however, till now there are not many records of the contribution that our brave women had provided and the struggle that they went through. It is true that our glorious language movement has ignited the fire of the liberation war of 1971, still and all, how the fearless women of Bengal have helped to ignite that fire is not discussed properly.
The nation pays heartfelt tribute to the Language Movement martyrs and heroes on Language Martyrs' Day on February 21 every year.
But very few programmes or events commemorate or even recognize the important role of the female protesters during the 1952 Language Movement.
Women actively participated in the movement at a time when society was largely conservative. Conventional historical narratives have overshadowed the heroic deeds of women.
Women's tasks included but were not limited to: Writing posters, Management of schoolgirls in procession, Later, women came forward to fill up the void in leadership when male leaders were imprisoned or had to go into hiding to avoid police arrest. Women were the first to defy curfew under section 144 on the fateful February 21st, 1952.
Dhaka University Associate Professor Mohammad Humayun Kabir, in his writing titled "Bhasha Andolon o Nari (Language movement and women)" mentioned that female participation in the movement started in the year 1948.
Quoting the then top female language movement leader Begjadi Mahmuda, Nasir said: "The female students were requested by History Department final year student Abdur Rahman Chowdhury to continue the language movement on the streets, as the male students were not being allowed on the streets by the then law enforcers.
"They male protesters were concerned that continuation of the situation could halt their movement."
The female students consented to the proposal and continue the movement on behalf of their male counterparts.
The female demonstrators were beaten by the police on the streets.
The women played two key roles in the movement, first in collecting funds, and then in attending demonstrations ignoring resistance from their family members.
Our nation and government should start to catalogue the role of the language movement leaders and activists and give full recognition to the brave women who have played a key role in the Language Movement of 1952. I pay my earnest tribute to all the martyrs and activists. Long live the revolution, the struggle, and our hard-won, beloved Bangladesh.