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Celebrating Women's Human Rights Defender Ila Pathak

Written by: Cristina Chahine

As WILPF commemorates the life of pioneer Ila Pathak, she is remembered for her activism and her work to eradicate the oppressive standards set by others for women.

Ila Pathak a professor with a PhD in Indo-English Literature and a Bachelor's in Law brought to the forefront issues plaguing women in India, such as honour killings, dowry, rape and female foeticide. With her commendable and effective work she held the following positions: Co-founder of Ahmedabad Women's Action Group (AWAG) in 1981 and former President of WILPF India and Vice-President of WILPF International. Her longstanding involvement with AWAG has positively contributed to the lives of women, forming steps towards shaping a framework in India and internationally that protects women's rights. Her work with AWAG in the state of Gujarat established a 24-hour helpline and counselling service in connection with the District Superintendent of Police.

Ila's international reach and activism was felt worldwide as an inspirational and strong leader. Secretary General of WILPF Madeleine Rees states: “Ila epitomized what WILPF stands for. She was a woman who was committed to peace and non-violence, who was passionate about rights and equality, who worked tirelessly for justice and did so with a gentleness which was demonstrative of her inner strength. She gave us much to inspire and motivate us and whilst we celebrate her life, we will also miss her, her warmth, her smile and her kindness. Ila, we thank you!” Programme Director of WILPF, Maria Butler, made the following statement, “We will miss her. May she now rest in peace and may she help us to live as she did.” As we thank Ila for her contribution to women's rights activism, we leave you with the following remarks, as made by Ila: “Who has time for tears and tantrums? There is much work to be done.”

To read more on Ila Pathak's legacy, click here.