Dr. Hameeda Hossain received her BA in literature and history from Wellesley College and her doctorate in history from Oxford University. Her career has spanned academic research, publishing and editing, as well as crafts development and advocacy for women, workers, and human rights. She has been consistently aligned with progressive causes and efforts, particularly on issues relating to secularism, civil liberties, and economic justice.
Dr. Hossain began her professional life as an editor with Oxford University Press in Karachi. She helped to co-found and served as the editor of the English language political monthly magazine, Forum, which played a critical role in raising awareness of the systemic inequities and discrimination suffered by the people of East Pakistan. Following Bangladesh’s independence, she joined the University Press Limited in Dhaka as an editor and also became actively involved in the rehabilitation of the women survivors of wartime sexual violence. Her efforts to develop and market local artisanal crafts led to the formation, in November 1974, of KARIKA (Bangladesh Hastashilpa Samabaya Federation Ltd.) This work, in turn, inspired her to write her doctoral dissertation at Oxford on the history of weavers in colonial Bengal, under the supervision of Professor Tapan Raychaudhuri. She has published widely on a variety of topics, including women’s experiences of the war, arts and crafts, the ready-made garment industry, women workers and human rights. Her publications in these subjects include No Better Option? Industrial Women Workers in Bangladesh, (1990, UPL, co-authored with Salma Sobhan and Roushan Jahan); The Company Weavers of Bengal: The East India Company and the Organization of Textile Production in Bengal, 1750-1813 (2010, UPL, and Oxford University Press, Delhi); and Of the Nation Born: The Bangladesh Papers (2016, Zubaan Books, co-edited with Amena Mohsin). In 2004 she co-authored Bangladesh’s Shadow Report for CEDAW and in 2010, the UN CEDAW Alternative Report on Bangladesh.
Dr. Hossain has attended major international women’s events in her capacity as a women’s rights activist, including the inaugural UN Conference for Women in Mexico City in 1975. She has been associated with several women’s and human rights networks in the Global South, such as Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, and South Asians for Human Rights. As a founder member and founder chairperson of the legal aid and human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra, she assumed responsibility for its research and advocacy programs. She is currently convener of the Sramik Nirapotta Forum (Workers’ Safety Forum), vice-chairperson of Research Initiatives Bangladesh, and a member of the board of the Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Foundation.