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Ilina Sen (1951–2020)

A Passionate Teacher and Activist

Ilina Sen, teacher, author and activist has left behind a rich legacy of work and warmth that will continue to inspire women’s and human rights activists and students

On 9 August 2020, Ilina Sen, former professor and head of Advanced Women’s Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a former president of the Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS), died at the age of 69, after a decade of struggle with cancer, at her home in Kolkata. She was surrounded by her family, husband Binayak Sen, daughters Pranhita and Aparajita, her mother and a cousin. She is mourned intensely by a wide constituency of people, not only in the women’s movement and in the IAWS, but by many activists in human rights movements, trade unions in the unorganised sector and public intellectuals. She did not struggle “against” her illness, she lived with it. She frequently said: “I just want to...live!” And live she did, with enormous energy and serenity and a very gentle sense of humour.

I had known Ilina since the 1984 conference of IAWS in Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram) and had visited the Sens in Dalli Rajhara, Chhattisgarh, where they worked since 1981 with
the mine workers’ union, Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh (CMSS), founded by Shankar Guha Niyogi. Ilina worked with the women’s wing of the union and Binayak belonged to the group of doctors who helped to build up the Shahid Hospital together with the workers.

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Updated On : 3rd Sep, 2020

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