Pakistani author, rights activist and a leading member of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) Dr Rubina Saigol passed away in Lahore on Friday.
The news was shared by WAF’s chapter on Twitter.
“With profound grief and sorrow, WAF Lahore regrets to inform that our beloved Rubina Saigol has passed away. Will honor her memory and carry on the struggle. May you rest in peace & power Rubi!” the tweet said.
Saigol’s colleagues, activists and academics paid tributes to her distinguished career on social media.
Former PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar wrote on Twitter that Saigol’s death carried deep personal significance. He mentioned that she was a petitioner in the Supreme Court against internment centers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa awaiting hearing since December 2019.
Academic Umair Javed wrote about the impact of her scholarly work. He described her as an “author of unmatched, incisive work on Pakistani education, nationalism, and culture, and a tireless activist for gender rights.”
Digital rights activist Nighat Dad described Saigol’s passing a huge loss for the feminist movement in Pakistan.
Talking to The Friday Times, one of Saigol’s students shared that, “Many years ago at one point in my life when I was confused about what feminism stands for and if it is in contradiction with Islam, Rubina Saigol helped me get the clarity that I needed. I wrote an email to her and asked the questions that had been troubling me. My confusion was due to my family background where asking questions was not encouraged. She immediately responded to my email and sent me various resources to help understand the phenomenon. Looking back, I think my questions were rather stupid. But she had the grace not to insult me and tried to reason with me. She will be sorely missed.”
Dr Saigol has authored numerous books and papers in both English and Urdu. Her scholarly work published in national and international research journals focused on feminism, educational discourse, nationalism and counter-terrorism.
Many of her publications were made mandatory readings for undergraduate and graduate courses by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Besides being a senior member of WAF, she was on the advisory board of Simrogh, a nonprofit organization on women’s rights.
She held a PhD in Education and Development from the University of Rochester and an MA in Development Psychology from Columbia University.