Tagged: South Asian women

Dame of the Day: Lúcia Lobato

Lúcia Lobato

Today’s Dame of the Day is Lúcia Lobato (November 7, 1965-). After earning her law degree, Lobato was elected to East Timor’s Parliament in 2001. During the 2007 election, she ran as the only female candidate. While she did not win the election, Lobato was later appointed Minister of Justice.

Dame of the Day: Tahmima Anam

Tahmima Anam

Today’s Dame of the Day is Tahmima Anam (October 8, 1975-). Born into a family of writers, Anam took up the family trade and earned an MA in Creative Writing. Her first book, A Golden Age, is loosely based on her parents’ relationship and takes place during the Bangladesh Liberation War. The sequel, The Good Muslim, made the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize longlist.

Dame of the Day: Lakshmi Sahgal

Lakshmi Sahgal

Today’s Dame of the Day is Lakshmi Sahgal (October 24, 1914 – July 23, 2012). After obtaining her medical degree, Sahgal left her native India for Singapore, where she established a free clinic for migrant laborers. During her time abroad, Sahgal became involved with the India Independence League. She established a women’s regiment, marched to Burma, and was arrested by the British army. (She was released after one year.) After India’s independence in 1947, Captain Lakshmi continued to see patients at her medical practice until she was 92 years old.

Dame of the Day: Zohra Sehgal

Zohra Sehgal

Today’s Dame of the Day is Zohra Sehgal (27 April 1912 – 10 July 2014). After watching her sister’s marriage fail, Sehgal vowed to pursue a career in acting instead of getting married. She studied ballet in Europe and, during his European tour, met choreographer Uday Shankar. Upon her return to India, Shankar offered her a spot in his touring dance company. This position kickstarted her 60 year career; Sehgal went on to star in dozens of silent and speaking film roles.

Dame of the Day: Zohra Begum Kazi

Zohra Begum Kazi

Today’s Dame of the Day is Zohra Begum Kazi (October 15, 1912-November 7, 2007). As a student, Kazi studied in India and England to obtain her medical degree and specialize in obstetrics and gynecology; she became the first Bengali Muslim female doctor of India. Yet in spite of her specialized field, Kazi went above and beyond to treat wounded students during the Bengali Language Movement and soldiers injured in the Bangladesh Liberation War. For her efforts in and out of the hospital, Kazi is considered the “Florence Nightingale of Dhaka.”

Dame of the Day: Clara Sumarwati

Clara Sumarwati

Today’s Dame of the Day is Clara Sumarwati (July 6, 1967-). In college, Sumarwati intended to be a guidance counselor. But when she graduated in 1990, she joined a mountaineering expedition team and scaled Nepal’s Annapurna IV. Six years later, she and a team of climbers reached the top of Mount Everest, making Sumarwati the first Indonesian woman and the first South Asian woman to summit.

Safecity: Documenting Street Harassment

We live in a data-driven society: to address a given problem, you first have to prove it exists. In the past year, organizations like Hollaback have drawn attention to street harassment through videos and social media campaigns. But statistically speaking, how prevalent is the problem? Who’s logging complaints? Sometimes, street harassment takes the form of an annoying catcall or a demand that a woman smile. But other times, it can be downright dangerous: United Nations Women estimates that, over the course of a lifetime, one in three women experience sexual assault.


Elsa D’Silva. Image courtesy of Impact Hub

Safecity founder Elsa D’Silva wants to change this statistic. In her native India, it is estimated that a rape occurs every 20 minutes. But with the guilt, fear, and shame often associated with street harassment, it is believed that many cases go unreported. D’Silva conceived of Safecity as a way for victims to anonymously report incidents and shed light on previously invisible crimes.


Image courtesy of Rising Voices

In addition to collecting reports, Safecity aggregates the data and highlight trends on a map. This visual reporting style helps women take precautions in high-harassment areas and provides evidence of the problem to lawmakers. Outside of the app, D’Silva and her team run sexual harassment awareness workshops to empower victims and shift the attitudes of men and boys. As D’Silva points out, India does not teach sex education, so Safecity also aims to change attitudes about sex, gender, and relationships.


Image courtesy of Tech in Asia

Currently, Safecity collects reports in two forms: on the web and via phone callback. However, the team is working on an app to allow more detailed documentation. Follow Safecity on social media to track their progress and learn about future initiatives.

Dame of the Day: Shamima Ali

Shamima Ali

Today’s Dame of the Day is Shamima Ali. Currently Ali heads the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and supports the Fiji Human Rights Commission. During the 2006 Fijian military coup, Ali spoke out against human rights violations committed by the interim government. In spite of the inherent risk, her vocal condemnation of the coup led to the release of several prominent human rights defenders. In 2007, the U.S. State Department presented Ali with the Women of Courage Award.

Dame of the Day: Ferial Haffajee

Ferial Haffajee

Today’s Dame of the Day is Ferial Haffajee. Haffajee began her career in journalism as a cub reporter for South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and worked her way up to editorships at the South African Broadcasting Company and the Financial Mail. In 2009, Haffajee became editor of Johanessburg’s City Press, making her the first Indian woman editor of any major South African newspaper.

Dame of the Day: Sunitha Krishnan

Sunitha Krishnan


Today’s Dame of the Day is Sunitha Krishnan (1972-). During her field work as a social worker, Krishnan developed relationships with sex workers in and around Bangalore. These relationships, along with her own history as a rape survivor, laid the groundwork for Krishnan’s career as an anti-human trafficking advocate. Krishnan co-founded Prajwala, an organization that rescues and supports sex trafficking victims and their children. She also lobbies the Indian government to shift their policies to a more victim-friendly focus. In addition to her hands-on work, Krishnan has also written 14 documentaries shedding light on AIDS, incest, and other social issues impacting the region.