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Sultana Kamal

Biography of Sultana Kamal

Sultana Kamal is a Lawyer and Human Rights Activist. She was appointed as an Advisor to the Caretaker Government in October 2006 from which she resigned with 3 other colleagues in December the same year. From September 2001 to March 2016 she led one of the front line human rights organizations Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).


Sultana Kamal was born to a family that was engaged in progressive movements of the sub-continent since the days before partition. She got involved in the women’s as well as human rights movement almost automatically. Father Kamaluddin Ahmad Khan and mother Sufia Kamal both were in the forefront of the movements for intellectual freedom, freedom of thought and conscience in the beginning of their lives


Sultana was active in KachiKanchar Mela, Sangskriti Sangsad, Struggles for Cultural Autonomy and the ’69 mass upheavals as well as other social activism. She did Masters in English Literature in 1971 from Dhaka University. In 1971 she joined the Muktibahini and was one of the founders of the Bangladesh Field Hospital in Agartala for the freedom fighters. Sultana and her sister Saeeda were the two out of four women to get the CNC’s Special Commendation for their role in the liberation war. During her work with the women in post war Bangladesh, she felt the need to study law and became a lawyer with the hope to provide legal assistance to the disenfranchised, especially women. In 1981 she did Masters in Development Studies from Holland specializing in Women and Development.


Starting her career as a teacher, she worked with Bangladesh Tobacco Company in the legal department. Her next job was in an international voluntary organization from 1976-1980. She briefly worked for the Vietnamese Boat People in Hong Kong as the Legal Consultant with UNHCR in 1989-90. She received Ananya Top Ten award in 1995 and the John Humphrey Freedom Award of Canada in 1996 for her involvement in the human rights and women’s rights activities.


In 2017 she was awarded the life time achievement award by Begum Zebunnessa and KaziMahboobullah Memorial Trust. She is also recipient C.R Das gold medal (2012) and also Mother Teresa gold medal (2011). Sultana was a founder member of the famous drama group “Nagorik Natya Samproday” and has acted in leading roles in its earlier productions.


At present she is the Founder President of Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation (msf). In addition to that she is now the chairperson of the We Can End Violence Against Women Alliance and chairperson for Transparency International Bangladesh. She is also co-chairperson for the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission. She is a trustee of Freedom Foundation and Protichi Bangladesh founded by AmartyaSen, The Gandhi Ashram Trust, Rokeya Memorial Foundation, a national council member of Bangladesh MahilaParishad, member of Bangladesh UNESCO National Commission, The National Legal Aid Committee, The Blue Planet Initiative, member of Asia Pacific Forum for Women Law and Development (Regional Network), Women Living Under Muslim Laws (International Network), South Asians For Human Right and South Asian Partnership among many others.


She writes in the dailies and periodicals on social, legal and gender issues. She has published a book on women’s legal rights titled “ManobirNishanka Mon” translated into English under the title of “Her Unfearing Mind”. Her latest publications include “Manabidhakar, Rashtra O Samaj” (Human Rights, State and the Society) and ChilamKothayJenoNilimar Niche, compilation of articles written by her over the last twenty five years. She travelled to more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific, United States and Canada and Europe in professional capacity to address issues related to human and women’s rights. She lectured in various Universities including University of Toronto and Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Oxford University.


At present she is guiding a Consultant team to promote human rights culture across the country engaging youth to make them active citizen.