Ahmed, Begum Badrunnessa

Ahmed, Begum Badrunnessa (1903-1980) social worker and an activist of the women empowerment movement. Begum Badrunnessa Ahmed was born in 1903 in a landed family of Paril-Nawadha under Singair upazila of Manikganj district. Daughter of Muazzam Hussain Khan, Badrunnessa (alias Mati Bibi) lost her parents in childhood and was brought up by her maternal grandfather Nurul Islam Khan, the zamindar of Paril. She was married to Moslehuddin Ahmed, a businessman in Calcutta.

In Calcutta, Badrunnessa associated herself with some organisations working for the promotion of female education and the welfare of Muslim society. She came in close contact with personalities like Shamsunnahar Mahmud, Anwara Bahar Chowdhury, Hasina Morshed, begum sufia kamal, Begum Shayesta Ikramullah and others. She was a member of the Managing Committee of Abdullah Suhrawardi Girls' School (1930) at Mirzapur Street, Calcutta. An active member of the Mirzapur Mahila Samiti, she took interest in organising cultural functions.

Badrunnessa Ahmed showed immense courage during the Calcutta Riot of 1946. Having intelligence that the Hindus had assembled at Sraddhananda Park to attack the Muslims of Mirzapur Street, she along with a few of her female compatriots stood on the crossing of Mirzapur Street and Harrison Road in a black veil and with a white flag in her hand. huseyn shaheed suhrawardy and Kiran Sankar Roy hurriedly rushed to the Spot to avert any clash, and a peace committee was formed.

After the partition of India, Badrunnessa moved to Dhaka in 1951 and settled at Gandaria. She launched the Gandaria Mahila Samiti with the female elite of the locality and established Gandaria Primary School and a Social Welfare Centre. A patron of art and culture, Badrunnessa turned her residence into a centre of cultural activities and a rendezvous of artists. She was the founder-member of the bulbul lalitakala academy (formerly Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts).

Badrunnessa was actively associated with a number of organisations such as All Pakistan Women Association, Pakistan Shishu Kishore Council, Pakistan Samaj Kalyan Sangstha, Manikganj Samiti etc. In recognition of her services to the society, she was awarded the insignia of Tamgha-i-Pakistan. She, however, renounced this honour during the mass upsurge of 1969. Begam Badrunnessa died in Dhaka on 20 April 1980 and was laid to rest in the Azimpur graveyard. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]