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Imam, Akhter


Imam, Akhter (1917-2009) educationist, feminism activist, was born on 30 December 1917 in her maternal granfather's house at Narinda in the old part of Dhaka Cit. Her mother was Manjura Banu.

Akhter Imam took her early education from Eden Girl's High School and Intermediate College, Dhaka. She passed Matriculation in 1933 and Intermediate in 1935 from that Institute. She completed her Honours in Philosophy in 1937 from Bethun College in Calcutta, under the University of Calcutta. For having secured the first position among girls with honours, she was awarded Gangamani Devi Medal by the University of Calcutta. She did her Masters in Philosophy from the University of Dhaka in 1946. She was granted a government overseas scholarship from the Bengal Muslim Education Fund and so in 1952 she did her Masters again in Philosophy from University College London and in 1963-65 pursued further research in Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, UK.

Subsequently she served as assistant teacher, lecturer and professor at Eden School and Intermediate College for Girls, Eden College from the middle of the 1940s up to March 1956 when she joined Dhaka College on transfer, as professor. She was the first women professor and head of department in Dhaka College. On 01 September 1956, she became the first permanent Provost of the first women's hall of the University of Dhaka- Women's Hall (presently, Roquiah Hall).

For several years since 1953 she was a part-time teacher at the department of Philosophy of the University of Dhaka. In 1968-69 she became its head. She was the first female head of the department and first female teacher of Philosophy in the University of Dhaka.

On invitation from unicef and various governments and organisations, she attended many international seminars, visited a host of institutions and toured many countries.

In 1968 she was the first woman to be elected General President of the Pakistan Philosophical Congress at its 15th Session. She also served one term as its Treasurer and Secretary. She was the first Convener of the Presidium of Bangladesh Philosophical Society and then a member of the Bangladesh Philosophical Congress. She was President of the 'Bangladesh Lekhika Shangha' for three years. She was also the President of Hemantika, an organisation for the welfare of senior women citizens of Bangladesh.

The struggling life of Akhter Imam can be a guide to many. She lost her husband at the age of only 25 having three little daughters. She got little support from her parental home and virtually no support from her husband's family. Valiantly she took the responsibility of the family and built it on a strong foundation.

Akhter Imam has written scores of essays and book both in Bangla and English. Her noted books: Galpo nay (1970), Katorupe (1974), David Hume on the nature of the self (1976), yeman dekhachhi teman Vebachhi (1981), Pholosopical papers (1984), Roquiah Halle Bish Bachhar ((1986). Her writings depict her keen observation power about people, discriminatory behavior and existing prejudices of the society towards womenfolk.

In recognition of her contribution to the society she was awarded `Roquiah Padak-2002'. In 1976 Dhaka University Alumni Association ceremonially honoured her on the occasion of its 75th founding anniversary. In 1998 on the occasion of golden jubilee of India's independence, Kolkata International Society for International Studies and Research conferred on her special reception and Memorandum as a struggling and renowned writer. She died in Dhaka on 22 June 2009. [Rawsan Ara Firoz]