BY DR SHABNAM CHOUDHURY
It was truly a celebration of womanhood. The Yamin Hazarika Woman of Substance Award 2017 started with the rendering of the National Anthem.
Economist Swabera Islam delivered the welcome address welcoming all the guests and the awardee for the year, Moloya Goswami. She said Moloya Goswami besides being an actor was a teacher and truly deserves the award. She welcomed Dr Amarjyoti Choudhury, noted academic and poet, who was the chief guest on the occasion and Jyotirmoy Chakravarti, IPS who was the Guest of Honour. Padmashree Eli Ahmed was a special guest on the occasion.
The Yamin Hazarika Woman of Substance Award 2017 was instituted by Women’s Hub, a collective of women professionals in memory of Late Yamin Hazarika, who was a 1977 batch DANIPS (NCT of Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Police Service) officer.
The event was sparked off by a panel discussion on the theme, “Where are the women in science?” which was moderated by Sabrina Iqbal Sircar, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Cotton College State University. The panelists included Narayan Sharma ,Assistant Professor Environmental Biology and Wildlife Sciences, Cotton University, Ramie Husneara, from Assam University Diphu Campus, Mayuri Chabukdhara Assistant Professor, Cotton University, Hamida Aktara Hoque, Mathematician and Nahid Islam, Guwahati-based Psychiatrist.
The panel discussion delved on issues related the under-representation of women in the field of sciences. Ramie Husneara says it depends on perception rather than on intellectual capability. Women are expected to devote time choosing subjects required into the field that would be helpful for women. She says parents should be encouraged to encourage their daughters to go out of their way and go to higher education.
Narayan Sharma cites an example of Purnima Devi Barman who won the green Oscar Award. (Barman was a panelist last year). He says young girls require push from fraternity so that such examples can motivate the young girls.
Dr Nahid Islam said researches show that after particular time the female students opting for science subjects come down. Number of factors such as psychosocial system we are brought up in is responsible. Gender biasedness has been there since time immemorial. She cites an example of Madam Curie who was not allowed in French Academy of Sciences because she was a woman. She was even denied for Nobel prize for long the reason that she is a woman. Dr Islam says because of gender disparity the female students opt for non-clinical subjects in postgraduate level rather than clinical subjects even in Medicine. She says as a Psychiatrist she feels good as it is an amalgamation of both Arts and Science.
She mentions about her mentor Dr Dipali Dutta as an inspiration who single-handedly happened to set up the Psychiatry department in Gauhati Medical College despite of odds she faced as a woman.
She referred to studies which reported that women are multi-taskers whereas men have more grey matter so they are able to focus on one task. Females brain is more adept to identifying people and their better communication abilities hence they can be better teachers and better caretakers. Viso-spatial abilities are seen to be better in men. That is why they like subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry. Thirdly, there is this gender-biased mindset that men are better in the Sciences. She says that being a woman and that too being in Sciences, she feels women can do very well by being very feminine and still strive for success. Of course, men around the women should understand her calibre and be supportive.
Hamida Aktara Hoque, a mathematician enlightens with the discrimination faced by women in the Northeast. She talks about her own experience and the resistance she faced. She wasn’t allowed to go for Advanced Mathematics for her class 10 board examinations by her family inspite of being very good in Mathematics. Then there was no looking back for this gritty girl from a remote village. She has now completed her Phd in Mathematics from Gauhati University, being the first from her village to do so.
Mayuri Chabukdhara then speaks about how and what are the factors for discrimination of women in Science. She says financial condition could be one and then family background could be another as it depends on support from parents. She says girls are insisted to go for jobs at young age because of low socioe-conomic status. Most of the women are encouraged for marriage leaving behind studies which leads to push from society for child care. She says awareness program should be held at a larger scale to motivate people to overcome all challenges.
Then Sircar ended the discussion saying it largely depends on us to ungender many things right from home to ideas to occupation. It is an incessant process not based on people not on men or on women but on individual to individual. The panelists were presented potted plants by the members of the Hub as a token of gratitude for their participation.
Syeda Juneina Ahmed a writer herself introduced Padmashree Eli Ahmed as an eminent writer, poet and novelist with an amiable nature. Padmashree Eli Ahmed has added many feathers to her cap. She made Assam proud by bagging the Padmashri in 2017. Juneina Ahmed said besides all this she also excelled in embroidery and other works.
Padmashree Eli Ahmed was presented a stole and a beautiful basket created by inmates of Central Tezpur Jail. It was sent by Women’s Hub member Nayama Ahmed who is posted as an Assistant jailor.
Padmashree Eli Ahmed while speaking recounted her fond memories with Lakhyadhar Chaudhuri father of Amarjyoti Chaudhuri, who had once told her to keep smiling and spread happiness. She says she has been smiling since then. She stressed on keeping our language alive and that is why she spoke in Assamese while receiving the Sahitya Akademi Award. She ended her speech with her own poem.
Shamim Hazarika mother of late Yamin Hazarika was also felicitated with a gamosa. Parul Debi Das, who was the first female IAS officer from Assam was also felicitated on the occasion.
Nellie Ahmed Tanveer the Managing Trustee of Maria’s Public School, and a member of Hub and a close relative of Yamin Hazarika talks about how gritty and determined was Yamin Hazarika. She, being a close associate of Yamin Hazarika recalls her extraordinary persona and introduced the life of Yamin Hazarika.
Reshma Shah, an Education Consultant introduced the awardee for the year 2017, Moloya Goswami as a daughter, sister, student, teacher, wife, mother, radio artiste and an actor. She spoke about Moloya Goswami’s contribution in social causes through her work and films. Moloya Goswami was the first Assamese actress won the National Film award for Best actress in 1992 for her performance in the Assamese film Firongoti.
Award and Felicitation program of Moloya Goswami followed with Yasmin Hazarika presenting a gamocha to her. Dr Amarjyoti Choudhury presented the silver salver to Moloya Goswami. The bouquet was presented by Tanzeema Ali and the basket by Afrida Hussain.
In her acceptance speech, Moloya Goswami paid tribute to Yamin Hazarika sayng that this is not only memorable but also a precious moment for her to receive an award in memory of Yamin Hazarika. The reason being that the award conferred to her is in memorial of a lady officer who belonged to Police department. She applauded her ability to crack the UPSC examinations in those times and pursuing it as a profession, as it was difficult for a lady to move ahead that too in such fields in those times.
Moloya Goswami then described Yamin Hazarika as a trendsetter during those times and that she should be an inspiration for upcoming young girls. She stressed on how education is important to create awareness among young girls. She says that the award conferred to her is indeed a matter of respect and she hopes to carry forward the respect bestowed on her so that the world should come to know about Yamin Hazarika.
She then spoke about completion of 25 years of winning the National Award for her film Firongoti. She ended her speech enacting a small role from her film Firingoti .
Dr Amarjyoti Choudhury delivered his speech saying that he is a feminist. He narrated an incident during 1956-1957 when he visited his grandmother in Dibrugarh who was a member of the Mahila Samiti. That night the president of the same samiti Chandra Prabha Saikiani came over to stay with them. That night the two ladies were talking about ways to get rid of kitchen from women and he unknowingly put his hand on theirs in affirmative. He then says that women possess such immense strength that if they occupy the higher positions in any job the surely usher in a change in the society. He applauded Womens Hub for organizing such an event to commemorate such a brave and courageous woman like Yamin Hazarika.
Dr Choudhury said women are strong both physically as well as mentally as he cites an example how his mother carried a very heavy bag full of 35 kilograms of rice all by herself. He speaks about women empowerment through education and he believes Women’s Hub is doing a great job in providing much needed recognition to women in different fields by organizing such an event every year.
Teresa Rehman, the managing director of Thumb Print Magazine said that people even in 20th century did not think about preserving the work of women. She started exploring the untold stories of women. Rehman says it was a daunting task gathering information about late Yamin Hazarika. She believes that it is because of the rare steps taken by trendsetter of that age that women of the present generatuion have been able to do things differently and may her extraordinary story continue to inspire people of many generation.
Mehbooba Begum a member of the Hub introduced the Guest of Honour Jyotirmoy Chakravarty. In his speech, he said that to work for women or their cause is not easy, since women constitute larger portion of the world. While talking about the woman of substance he feels the women who all have struggled for some passion or for some belief that they have been following is not easy. He believes that each and every member of the hub possess the quality of being the woman of substance because they could think or incept such an idea. Moving forward with the idea and taking part in it is in itself a big thing.
Another quality of a Woman of substance is that they can share that among others. He believes the effort put in by the members of the hub will not go in vain and can be shared among the whole society. He recalls his encounter with Yamin Hazarika twice in Delhi. Once while he was a student and she was serving as a DANIPS officer at some event when he interacted with her, he was charmed by her extraordinary brave spirit.
Dr. Shabnam Choudhury, a Dental Surgeon, anchored a book release session of two bright authors of the hub Dr. Shabnam Akhtar Ahmed, Pathologist, GNRC Hospitals and Rehna Sultan, a Phd Scholar at Gauhati University. Dr. Shabnam Akhtar Ahmed’s book ‘Ananya Sanchita’ in Assamese and ‘A Legacy Of Love’ in English was released by Jyotirmoy Chakrabarty. Rehna Sultana’s book ‘Char Chaparir Loka Jiwan Aru Bhasha Sanskriti’ was released by Moloya Goswami.
Salma Hussain a young member of hub spoke about the handmade badges created by a lady from Chaygaon. Nazia Sultana another member of the hub proposed the vote of thanks. Tinat Atifa Masood, the anchor for the evening, along with other hub members brought the curtains down to the whole event with the Jatiya Sangeet (State Anthem).
Dr Shabnam Choudhury is a dental surgeon.