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 Kachi Kanchar 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 Kazi Mahboobullah 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. She is now the Chairperson of the We Can End Violence Alliance, Transparency International Bangladesh and The Blue Planet Initiative. Co-chair of the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission. Vice president of Bangladesh Paribash Andolon. Member of Protichi Bangladesh- a trust founded by Amartya Sen, Board member of BRAC University, Member of Asia Pacific Forum for Women Law and Development (Regional Network), Women Living Under Muslim Laws (International Network) and South Asians For Human Rights and among many others. She is an executive committee member of Chayannaut and also of National Robindra sangeet sammilon Parishad . She is leading the movement of National committee for saving the Sundarbans and Rukhe Daro Bangladesh. She is a Trustee Board member of CPD. She also acted as a Commissioner for the Rana Plaza compensation committee formed by ILO and the fund of Bangladesh.
She is married with one daughter. Her husband, two brothers and two sisters are also well known in their own professional fields and for social activism.
She writes in the dailies and periodicals on social, legal and gender issues. She has published a book on women’s legal rights titled “Manobir Nishanka 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 Chilam Kothay Jeno Nilimar 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 residing at House No. 15, Road 11, Dhanmondi R/A. her permanent address is Manipuri Rajbari, Sylhet-3100.