Respect for women in sculpture

Respect for women in sculpture

Poet Nazrul may have spoken about that day considering the environment at least 70 or 80 years ago. Today, in the reality of the 21st century, the position of women has changed a lot. Today, women have not limited themselves to providing ‘inspiration’ or ‘strength’ to men only by becoming ‘Vijay Lakshmi’. On the contrary, women are fighting along with men to snatch ‘victory’. Some of them are flying in the sky with fighter jets, while others are diving in the deep sea with submarines. In the forest, the jungle, the plains, the hills, the deserts, or the snow-covered areas, the sky is roaring with the sound of machine guns, missiles, drones or cannonballs in the hands of women. To take women further, memorials (Victory Pillar in the language of the poet Nazrul) are being built in the country today, where the outstanding contribution of women in war and peace is remembered with reverence. This respect for women is constantly giving them ‘motivation’ and ‘strength’ to go further.

Today’s topic of discussion……

1.Monument to the Women of World War II

2.Respect for women in sculpture in Bangladesh

3.Invincible Bengali

4.Vietnam Women’s Memorial

5.Virginia Women’s Monument

6.Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument

7.Some more memorials

★1.Monument to the Women of World War II


World War II is a stigma in human history. From September 1, 1939 to September 2, 1945, the bloodiest war in history lasted for six consecutive years. On one side of the war were allied forces consisting of Britain, America, Russia, China and other countries. On the other side was the German-led Central Force. Some other countries including Japan and Italy sided with the Germans. World War II and subsequent conflicts killed nearly two and a half million soldiers. Twice as many were injured. The list of missing is also very long. The number of injured and killed civilians is also in the tens of millions. The vast majority of those who died, both military and civilian, were brave, helpless, destitute, rich and poor, as well as women and children of various natures. The total number of troops on both sides in World War II was more than 70 million. Among these soldiers were a large number of women soldiers who took part in the oncoming war and the number of women soldiers who cooperated.


At the end of the Second World War, war memorials were erected in different countries of the world and special memorials were erected to commemorate the appeal of women. But in Britain itself, which led the war, no such monument was erected in the nineties. The issue was raised by Major David McNally Robertson, a British fighter in World War II. Then began a new war to build a memorial in honor of the women soldiers who took part in World War II. Attempts were made by Major Robertson and his colleagues to raise funds, including journalists, producers, members of Parliament and Speaker of Parliament, and Princess Royal. A number of organizations, including The National Heritage Memorial Fund and the TV show Who Want to Be a Millionaire, have come forward to raise funds.

The original sculpture, called “Monument to the Women of World War II”, was designed after the fundraiser. The sculpture is made of bronze, with a total height of 22 feet.The original sculpture is 16 feet high and 6 feet wide. The characters used in the book are imitated by John William Mill, a sculptor who made 17 sets of bronze garments worn by women warriors in World War II to facilitate their careers and work during the Second World War. The sculpture was officially unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II of England on July 9, 2005, marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The inaugural ceremony was attended by many members of Parliament, the Secretary of Defense, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and hundreds of retired women warriors. In the memory of the Second World War, various shapes of countries of the world are visible  Although the memorial was built, the Monument to the Women of World War in England, dedicated solely to the honor of women soldiers, is especially revered as a memorial of emotion and feeling. The sculptor John William Mill, the creator of this sculpture located in Whitehill, London, has also become immortal through this extraordinary creation.

★2.Respect for women in sculpture in Bangladesh

The religious and social views of most of the people of Bangladesh are against the construction of any kind of sculpture or physical reflection. In addition, sculpting a woman’s body is traditionally considered a daunting task. Nevertheless, many sculptors have come forward to show due respect to women. Sometimes in symbolic architecture, they have placed the image of woman directly in the same category with the image of man. Hamidur Rahman is one of them. Salam, Rafiq, Barkat, Jabbar, Shafiur and many others were martyred in the struggle to establish Bengali as the state language in 1952.

Architect Hamidur Rahman has dedicated a pillar at the National Shaheed Minar in the heart of Dhaka to commemorate the mother of these young men and women who lost their lives prematurely. In this Shaheed Minar, there are four pillars standing high as a symbol of pride of the country. The talented architect has highlighted the middle of these pillars as a symbol of a mother. The upper part of the middle pillar is slightly curved and leans forward. This shows the innate tendency of Bengali mothers to keep their children in their arms. The 4 straight pillars standing straight on either side of the mother are like the four children of the mother who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom of language and country.

★3.Invincible Bengali

A sculpture commemorating the great war of independence of Bangladesh. Three heroic freedom fighters, one of whom is a woman, have found a place in this sculpture in front of Kala Bhavan of Dhaka University. The sculpture was created by sculptor Syed Abdullah Khaled, who is also a freedom fighter. In his architecture, the freedom fighter wearing a rifle on his shoulder is a reflection of the peasants, workers and common people of Bengal.  Representing the students is the figure of a freedom fighter wearing full pants and holding a rifle. And to highlight the contribution of women in the great liberation war, a sculptor of a woman freedom fighter wearing a sari has been created, carrying a medical bag or box hanging on her shoulder. Construction of the sculpture began in 1973 and was discontinued in 1975. On the Victory Day of 1979 (December 16), a sculpture named ‘Invincible Bengal’ was inaugurated. 12 feet high on a 8 feet altar, 6 feet wide and 6 feet in diameter, is considered a symbol of the pride of the invincible Bengal.

Sculptor Shamim Sikder has created a sculpture called ‘Freedom Freedom’ of Dhaka University. It is located on the University Road Road. Throughout the sculpture, fragments of the great liberation war of Bangladesh have been depicted. Collage-shaped figures have been erected on the altar of sculpture to commemorate significant moments like movement, struggle, violence against women, surrender of Pakistanis and triumph. And on the altar there is a group of armed freedom fighters, one of whom is a woman freedom fighter. The construction of this sculpture was completed on March 25, 1988. The war of liberation officially ended on 16 December 1971 with a great victory. However, despite the unpleasantness, it is true that the anti-government parties formed a movement against the later rulers with the title of ‘New Dictatorship’.

On March 13, 1992, a group of terrorists opened fire on an anti-terrorist procession of the Democratic Student Union. Central leader of Bangladesh Chhatra Union Moin Hossain Raj, who was leading the procession, was killed. The ‘Raju Sculpture’ was erected to commemorate this event and to pay homage to the memory of all those who sacrificed their lives in the anti-terror movement. Sculptor Shyamal Dutt, accompanied by his colleague Gopal Pal, held hands in a circle and painted the faces of seven protesting students and one student.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman spent a part of his captive life in Dhaka Cantonment. He and his accomplices were detained for some time in a building of Dhaka Cantonment on false charges of so-called Agartala conspiracy case. The Agartala Conspiracy Case Memorial Museum was later built in this building. Next to this museum there is a museum based on the liberation war, a mural and a sculpture called ‘Vijay Ketan’. Renowned architect and sculptor Hamiduzzaman unveiled seven armed freedom fighters in front of the museum in 2001. One of them is a woman freedom fighter who holds in her hand the symbol of our freedom and pride ‘Vijay Ketan’ or the flag of victory.

★4.Vietnam Women’s Memorial


From November 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975, a bloody war broke out in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for 20 long years. In this war, South Vietnam, backed by capitalist superpowers, took up arms against North Vietnamese armies backed by pro-socialist and communist countries. Behind this cover, on one side of this origin, were their allies, including capitalist America, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines. On the other hand, China, the Soviet Union and North Korea, which believe in socialism and communism, have formed an alliance to resist them. At one point, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia and some of the surrounding areas were occupied by French forces and turned into a French colony. Vietnam started a guerrilla war against France on 19 December 1946 with the support of socialist and communist countries. The first Indo-China war ended in 1954 with the defeat and withdrawal of France. Then American hegemony began in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Vietnam was then divided into North and South.

The United States first sent a team of military advisers to South Vietnam and prepared thousands of troops by sending all weapons and equipment. In contrast, socialists and communists created millions of guerrillas in North Vietnam. As the situation spiraled out of control, the United States began sending troops directly to Vietnam. At one point in 1969, the number of American troops in Vietnam reached about 5.5 million. A part of the American army was made up of women soldiers. In 1973, the number of these women soldiers was about 6 thousand. American women were primarily employed as nurses. However, many of them voluntarily fought directly in front of the battlefield. He also played a key role in controlling the movement of warplanes and establishing wireless communication systems on the battlefield. A sculpture called the “Vietnam Women’s Memorial” was erected in 1993 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in recognition of the contribution of American women soldiers to the Vietnam War. The sculpture depicts three female soldiers in military uniforms and a war veteran. The sculpture shows the wounded male soldier falling to the ground and another female soldier holding him. Although there are several memorials in the country, including The Wall, commemorating American soldiers who took part in the war in Vietnam, not just women. Diane Carlos Evans, an American woman nurse who took part in the Vietnam War, was upset. According to him, about 1100 American women soldiers took part in the Vietnam War and at that time there were 265,000 American soldiers in different parts of the world. Evan called on American women to make this contribution memorable and continued to lobby. Responding to her call, a group of women organizers, volunteers, feminists and charities came forward in 50 states of America.

For almost 10 years, from 1984 to 1993, Ivan and his associates continued to raise money and contribute to the sculpture. After all the arrangements and the approval of the authorities, an open competition was organized for the construction of the original sculpture. More than three hundred artists, architects and sculptors took part in the competition. Among them, New Mexico sculptor Glina Maxi Godari won the Best Sculptor award. Under his supervision, a 7-foot-tall bronze sculpture depicting three female and one male warriors was erected. The “Vietnam Women’s Memorial” sculpture was unveiled on November 11, 1993, in the presence of thousands of people, especially veterans of the Vietnam War.

★5.Virginia Women’s Monument


The four states of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in the United States are collectively referred to by the Americans as the Commonwealth. The women of the region played a vital role in the overall development of the region. A memorial has been erected in their memory in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The full name of the monument is ‘Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument’.  However, in short, this memorial is better known as the Virginia Women’s Monument.

The issue of construction of such a memorial came up in 2009. The Virginia State Assembly passed a bill or resolution in 2010 formally approving the construction of the memorial, and it was decided to create sculptures for women who have played a significant role in the development of the four US states known as the “Commonwealth”. An 18-member commission was formed to select the most deserving, exemplary and majestic women, like sculptors. The Commission is assisted by an organization called the Library of Virginia and Professors of Women’s History. Through the combined efforts of all, 12 women were selected from among the many possible women, whose sculptures deserved to be made. The people of Virginia went ahead with the plan to build a sculpture of these 12 people in this memorial in stages. Among the 12 are Indigenous women Anne Bruce Leon, Pamunki, Tribal leader Koka Kowski ‘, Frontier Indigenous women Mary Draper, Eng Glaces, fashion designer and writer Elizabeth Keckley, business leader Lodi Koppen Reverd Kilpen Hever, educationist Virgini. The studio e-IS, based in Brooklyn, USA, specializes in sculpting these majestic women. This organization makes sculptures of these women selected from 4 states one by one. In the middle of the memorial is a base made of granite and bronze. The names of different areas of the state of Virginia are engraved on this beige. There are two lovely benches on either side of the sculpture. Behind the bench are inscribed tempered glass or glass that will not break easily, the names of more than two hundred women who have made outstanding contributions in various fields, this glass wall is called ‘The Wall of Honor’.

★6.Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument


Suzanne Tooth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth KD Stanton are three American women activists. Among them Tooth was a black slave by birth. In 1826, he fled with his daughter to free his next generation from the shackles of slavery, and through court freed his son from the bondage of his white lord. She later dedicated her life to establishing women’s rights. Susan was an American social reformer, feminist, and front-line leader in the anti-slavery movement. At the age of 17, he started a movement against slavery and collected petitions against slavery from all concerned. 

Her contribution to the establishment of women’s suffrage is everlasting. Susan’s comrade-in-arms and lifelong companion was Elizabeth, the socialite of women in New York, USA in 1848. She formed a big movement to promote political and religious positions and establish women’s rights. Elizabeth made America’s first declaration or convention to improve the status of women in recognition of her strong role.  The ‘Women’s Rights Pioneer Monument’ was set up in Central Park, Manhattan, New York, USA, to commemorate the contribution of these three women.

Manhattan’s Central Park was established about 173 years ago today. Until 2013, there was no female sculpture in this park. In the same year, fundraising for the sculpture in honor of women in the park began. About 50 million dollars was raised from various individuals, organizations, foundations and offices during this time. The members of Girls Guide also raised funds by selling their own handmade biscuits. Women public representatives from all walks of life extend a helping hand to their respective departments in constructing this sculpture.

After raising funds for five years, a proposal to build a sculpture was called in 2018. 91 sculptors responded. Meredith Bugman, an American female sculptor, was chosen from among them. On October 21, 2019, The New York City Public Design Commission approved Meredith’s planned sculpture. Then the work of making the original sculpture started. In order for any movement to move forward, one has to speak and call for movement and on the other hand one has to organize those who call or respond to the movement. Besides, writing is also important to make the movement successful. So the sculptor Meredith shows in the sculpture of three outstanding women the first John Tooth speaking, Susan organizing and Elizabeth writing. With permission to build, he first made a 9-foot-long mud sculpture. Then he poured molten bronze on the mud sculpture. At the end of the day, the work of making the perfect look is gone. He completed the construction of this sculpture within the stipulated 10 months. On August 26, 1919, women’s suffrage was established throughout the United States. That’s why every year on August 26, America celebrates Women’s Equality Day or Women’s Equality Day. The Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, a symbol of women’s pride across the United States, was inaugurated on August 26, 2019, to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of women’s suffrage.

★7.Some more memorials

In 1891, women in Melbourne, Australia, still did not have the right to vote. So in just six weeks, 30,000 women submitted their applications, claiming the right to vote. After almost 20 years of movement, the authorities were forced to give women the right to vote. However, in order to make the process of realizing this right memorable, those applications are attached to the cloth with glue and stored. The length of this cloth stands at 260 meters, which is kept in the Public Records Office in Melbourne. On the other hand, in commemoration of this movement, a special sculpture called ‘The Great Petition’ with a width of 210 meters was erected near the Parliament building in Melbourne. The sculpture was designed by sculptors Susan Hewitt and Penelope Lee-Err and created by an organization called Brick Knock. The sculpture “The Great Petition” was unveiled on December 3, 2008 to mark the centenary of the women’s suffrage movement there.

Jalango is now a mountainous area in Greece. On 16 December 1803, troops from the then Ottoman Empire occupied the Jalango area. At one point, about 60 women and children in a hill village were trapped. They realize that a chain of torture and slavery awaits them. So they choose death over surrender. As planned, the women climbed the steep hill with their children and sang and danced in the hills. At one point, they jumped one by one with the children from a height of 700 meters and embraced death.

This tragic episode is known in the pages of history as “The Dance of Jalango”. Many songs, plays and documentaries were made under this name later. In 1961, sculptor Jorge Django Lopoulos built a 18-meter-wide and 13-meter-high sculpture on the site, known as the Monument of Jalango. The sculpture features six women holding hands as well as the resistance to stand together, which inspires them to remain united in times of extreme crisis.

The question of whether women were eligible for the position of senator in the Supreme Court of Canada in 1927-28 depended on the interpretation of the word ‘person’. Five Canadian women leaders, social workers, judges, peasant leaders and the leader of the movement for equal rights have fought a legal battle against the legal interpretation that the term “person” refers only to men in a British-introduced law. They are Henrietta Moi Edwards, Nellie McClang, Lewis MacKinney, Emily Murphy and Irini Pearlby, respectively. The Canadian High Court recognized the merits of both men and women in interpreting the word ‘person’ under the courageous and strong leadership of these five struggling women. So in honor of the five women, the bronze ‘The Famous Five’ memorial was built in Calgary, Canada at the hands of female sculptor Barbara Peterson.

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