Special Reports

Two Muslim Women Felicitated For Their Services

Lucknow: Women empowerment is a derived maxim of our society. It was seen here in real life  on 17 September when journalist Kulsoom Mustafa and Professor Sabra Habib recieved Upbhokta Shree Award 2011 by Bharat Jyoti, an organisation engaged in elevating the downtrodden, destitutes and poor, by way of providing scholarships to underprivileged children for the last 25 years. The ceremony was held at the Muhammed Bagh Club, city’s most prestigious club.

"Maine journalism se ghar chalya hai," said Kulsoom and no doubt she has right for this rightful claim, as she is a word to reckon within Lucknow media circles. She had been a copy editor for the Times of India for 17 years before she took over as Bureau Chief of The Indian Express for three years, apart from a short stint with North Indian Patrika. Today, she is engaged as a correspondent for AFP along with providing consultancy to UNICEF. Contributions to BBC online, Women's Feature Service, which feeds newspaper and magazines in 40 countries, twocircles.net, Citizen News Service, Uday India magazine, Grassroots (Vidhura) etc. keeps her world going.

Kulsoom was born in a family with Iranian roots which goes back to the days of the Nawabs. She had been through the best of available education and took to journalism out of passion. She  lost her husband at a very early stage and had to toil along with two young children. She worked hard and established a niche for herself, got her children the best education. She would drive her car, do grocery, make breakfasts for her children and also would never let slip a deadline. This is despite the extensive traveling she undertakes to Delhi and to many parts of UP, by way of her involvement in an AIDS awareness campaign under UNICEF. This agenda gets through via the bi-monthly programme which she conducts under Media for Children. The programmes have been held in all the press clubs in UP apart from being held once at Patna Press club.

It was worth reckoning to find that once Kulsoom, while in Delhi Metro train, had been whisked of her finances, amounting to about one lakh. She was left stranded but she did not relent and lodged an FIR and kept sitting in Delhi Police Headquarters for hours on every visit to Delhi until recently when Delhi police arrested an organised gang of 20 women thieves who travel in woman coupe. "I have not as yet recovered my money but the journalist in me kept me going or else I would have just sat, decrying my fate like any other individual," she told  on the sidelines of the award ceremony.

Sabra Habib recollected as to how her father Syed Habibur-Rehman would let her be sent to Moscow and make her pursue post-graduation in Russian language. She later did her PhD from the same institution and came back to Lucknow University in 1981 to start as a teaching faculty in the Department of Russian Studies. Her book in Hindi script Aao Roosi Seekhein, published by Peoples Publishing House is a unique effort on the subject. No wonder she has also received Pushkin Award in Moscow in 1991 for her services to the language. Apart from this is also a recipient of the prestigious UP Ratna Award. She had been the chairperson of Minority Committee for Monitoring Education under the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, New Delhi. Sabra has penned around 10 books. Right now Sabra is Professor Emeritus at Lucknow University.

"I have delved myself into serving people in whatever the little capacity I have. I started an NGO, Natasha Polycraft and Education Center, in  1995 where I see that the needles in the small-small hands, which make the best crafts and designs, also find a pen and paper and make way for their inalienable right towards education," she said. Hats off to these two Muslim women.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 October 2011 on page no. 17

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