Bangladesch: Beggzadi Mahmuda Nasir

We wanted to establish a college where girls from all religions would get quality education in a sound atmosphere.

— Beggzadi Mahmuda Nasir

When Beggzadi Mahmuda Nasir began her work on women's education in 1950, women in Bangladeshi society had nil space in public life. Coming from a liberal and educated family, Beggzadi had an advantage. Since she believes that education is essential to women's status, the deplorable condition of women's education disturbed her. Pursuing a dream with remarkable single-mindedness, Beggzadi set up the Central Women's College in 1956 and the Central Women's University in 1993.

Beggzadi Mahmuda Nasir was born in 1929 in undivided Bengal into a highly educated and liberal family, giving Beggzadi opportunities that few women of her time could count on. Studying at both Calcutta and Dhaka universities, she started her career in 1951 as a lecturer in English at Kumudini College, Tangail, Bangladesh. But teaching alone left her discontented: she firmly believed that the status of women in society would change only through the education of large numbers of women. In 1956, she founded the Central Women's College (CWC) in Dhaka. While friends and family were very supportive, funds barely trickled in. And then there were the bureaucratic barriers to cross. The college, however, flourished. In 1993, she founded the Central Women's University, the country's first women's university, in the campus of the CWC. From 1956 to 1992, she was the principal of the CWC, continuing as vice-chancellor of the university from 1993 to 1999. She is today chairperson of the institution's board of trustees. Beggzadi was also the first woman member of the Syndicate of Dhaka University. She has received several state awards, was decorated by the Women's Federation for World Peace (Bangladesh) in 2001, and is a life fellow of the prestigious Bangla Academy. Beggzadi has spent 55 years working to promote education for women. With the odds-traditional and patriarchal-stacked against her, she convinced people that education is the route to women's liberation, and the primary condition for world peace.

Central Women's University