LAHORE: Eminent scholar, educationist, feminist and human rights activist Rubina Saigol passed away in Lahore on Friday. Her niece Nida Usman Chaudhry confirmed to Dawn.com that Saigol had contracted the coronavirus and was under treatment for the last 10 days.
“With profound grief and sorrow, I regret to inform that our beloved Ruby khala has passed away. Please pray for her,” Chaudhry said in a tweet.
As news of her death spread, condolences poured in from politicians, journalists and activists who paid rich tribute to Saigol.
PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of her passing.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted that Saigol’s “work on gender, nationalism, human rights and education has inspired three generations of activists and academics”.
The Women’s Action Forum (WAF), of which Saigol was a senior member, too expressed its grief and sorrow.
“She has left a huge mark on us all and touched many lives. [We] will honour her memory and carry on the struggle,” the WAF tweeted.
The Aurat March Lahore team said Saigol had been a “feminist giant”, adding: “Her contribution to the Pakistani and South Asia feminist movement and thought is unmatched. We will miss her marching among us each year.”
While expressing sadness at the educationist’s death, columnist Nadeem Farooq Paracha paid tribute to her services.
“A brilliant scholar, she was one of the first academics to fully explore and dissect the impact of myopic ideologies on the curriculums of Pakistan and India.”
“The human rights world has lost a great fighter today,” said journalist Munizae Jahangir.
Academic and columnist Umair Javed noted that Saigol had been an “author of unmatched, incisive work on Pakistani education, nationalism, and culture, and a tireless activist for gender rights”.
“We are undoubtedly poorer today in her absence,” he added.
Calling her a “giant of the women’s movement in Pakistan”, researcher Ammar Rashid recalled that Saigol had “helped a generation of scholars & activists understand the relationship between state, gender & nationalism, themes so central to today’s feminist & progressive movements”.
“Dr Rubina Saigol was one of the most brilliant and kindest people I met. Big loss to the progressive movement,” said activist Ammar Ali Jan.
A prominent feminist, educationist and activist, Rubina Saigol completed her MA in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University in 1982 and her PhD in Education and Development from the University of Rochester in 1989.
Over the course of her career, she wrote multiple research papers in Urdu and English and authored and edited several books including The Pakistan Project: A Feminist Perspective on Nation & Identity and Contradictions and Ambiguities of Feminism in Pakistan: Exploring the 4th Wave.