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June 04, 2018

Happy Birthday, Nurjahan Begum! We celebrate the trailblazing journalist and Editor of the subcontinent's first women-centric magazine: Begum.

The groundbreaking magazine was founded by Nurjahan's father, Nasir Uddin, a seasoned journalist, in 1947 during a very conservative political climate in Bengal. As a parent, he gave a lot of his time and effort to ensure that Nurjahan was given the best possible education, in and out of school. This was a radical move at a time when a daughter’s education was considered unnecessary at best.

Nurjahan went to the legendary Sakhawat Memorial School, built by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. It’s wonderful to see how one Supergirl influenced another. Thanks to Begum Rokeya’s relentless effort to establish the first school for Muslim women, Nurjahan was able to live out her full potential, and likewise, she paved the way for many other women. As the Editor of Begum, she gave women the opportunity and courage to write, take photographs and illustrate. The magazine acted like an older sister to its readers; offering consolation, knowledge, and inspiration.

She also established the Begum Club –a nurturing common ground for many women to share stories and know-how. A number of female writers emerged from the club and could connect with their audience through the magazine. Among many awards, Nurjahan Begum received the Begum Rokeya Award in 1995 and the Ekushey Padak in 2011.

On her birthday, we remember her for her remarkable courage to advocate women's rights and help other women in their creative, public and personal aspirations.

| Painting by Naima Haque |