ARROW for Change – Intersections: The Politicisation of Religion and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Country Profile on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Rights: Bangladesh
Nasreen, former Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) member, died on 24 April 2006 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She was one of the women activists that ARROW co-founders Rita Raj and Rashidah Abdullah most admired when setting up ARROW. Nasreen's analysis, insights, courage, and fresh perspectives dazzled them at the International Health Meeting in Manila in 1990 and she was invited to become a founding PAC member, remaining so until 2001.
Nasreen was a tireless, passionate activist and helped shape the Bangladeshi women's movement and civil society. After studying in the US, she joined the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, then Helen Keller International, and finally Action Aid as Country Director. For almost 20 years, Nasreen also worked with the women's NGO Naripokkho, for whom she had coordinated both the Women's Health and the Safe Motherhood Teams and founded a national campaign against acid violence. Nasreen was also a regular advisor on gender issues to the Government of Bangladesh, playing a critical role on the government delegation during ICPD in Cairo and at the ICPD+5 Meeting in Bangkok. We remember her very fondly both for all the wonderful activist work she did, as well as for her beaming smile, incredible warmth and beauty.
Sunila Abeysekera was a formidable voice for human rights in Sri Lanka, Asia and internationally. Her work was based on principles of feminism and human rights, whether it was grassroots level activism or advocacy in regional and international fora. Sunila passed away in September 2013 after a long battle with cancer, and we at ARROW deeply mourn her loss.
Sunila’s contribution to human rights, especially women’s rights, is widely recognised. She received the UN Secretary General’s Award for Human Rights in 1998, was nominated for the One Thousand Women for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and got the Human Rights Defender Award from Human Rights Watch in 2007.
Sunila was a member of ARROW’s Board of Directors from 2011 until she passed away. In 2012, Sunila co-authored an ARROW publication, Reclaiming and Redefining Rights— Guidance Series: Analysing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), with Amy Lynne Locklear.
Sunila’s unfailing spirit, commitment and numerous contributions to the women’s rights and human rights movement including ARROW, would be always remembered and valued by us. She will continue to inspire us. Farewell with much love and respect, Sunila!