Syeda Saiyidain Hameed is a feminist and writer, who is widely recognized for her engagement in public affairs and social issues, especially concerning women. She was Member of the Planning Commission of India from 2004-2014. As Member, she worked in the areas of Health, Women and Children, Minorities, Handloom and Handicrafts, Micro Medium and small Enterprises and the Voluntary Sector.
Dr. Hameed was born in Kashmir. She completed her BA from Delhi University in 1963, and traveled to Wisconsin and Hawaii, United States of America, to complete her MA. She completed her Ph.D. in literature from the University of Alberta, Canada in 1972.
She was appointed lecturer first at Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. A few years later she served as sessional lecturer at the University of Alberta, Canada. The next ten years saw her Executive Assistant to the Minister of Advanced Education and Manpower Govt of Alberta, and Director of Colleges and Universities for the provincial government. Returning to India in 1984, she devoted herself to writing and social activism, at the same time serving as a Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. In 1997 she was appointed Member National Commission for Women. In this position she toured the country and wrote extensively on atrocities and injustice faced by Indian Women with the objective of fulfilling the mandate of NCW, namely, making systemic changes.
She has engaged with several Indian and international civil society organizations in initiating path breaking changes. She is founder of organizations such as Muslim Women’s Forum, Women’s Initiative for peace in South Asia (WIPSA), South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.
Some of the the organizations with which she is associated:
- Muslim Womens Forum: Founder
- National Foundation of India: Chair
- The Hunger Project: Global Board Member
- Action Aid Governing Board Member
- Population Foundation of India Governing Board Member
- Jan Vikas GB Member
- Centre for Social Justice GB Member
- Sahrwaru A Women's Resource Centre: Chair
The outcome of her work has been several published works some of which are translations from Urdu to English.
- Letters from Prison (Translation of Mohammad Yunus' Qaidi ke Khat) from Urdu to English, 1986
- Facts are Facts (Translation of Khan Abdul Wali Khan's memoirs from Urdu to English), Vikas Publications, 1987
- India's Maulana: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (4 volumes) commemoration volumes for his centenary, ICCR, 1988
- Quilt and Other Stories: Translation of Ismat Chughtai (Tahira Naqvi), Kali for Women, 1988
- Rubaiyat-e-Sarmad, ICCR, 1991
- Parvaaz Translation of 20 Century women writers of Urdu short stories (Sughra Mehdi), Women Unlimited, 1992
- Iqbal Poet Patriot of India (Translation of SMH Burney's Muhibbe Watan Iqbal) from Urdu to English. Vikas, 1993
- A Dream Turns Seventy-five (Kushwant Singh), Allied Publishers 1995
- The Contemporary Relevance of Sufism, ICCR, 1993
- Islamic Seal on India’s Independence: Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, OUP Pakistan, 1994
- Voice of the Voiceless: Status of Muslim Women in India (also in Hindi and Urdu), National Commission for Women, 2000
- Zakir Husain: Teacher Who Became President. A Commemoration. ICCR, 2000
- Journey for Peace: Women's Bus of Peace from Delhi to Lahore, 2000
- Shanti Parasmoni: Women’s Bus of Peace from Kolkata to Dhaka, 2000
- They Hang: Twelve Women in My Portrait Gallery, Kali for Women, 2002.
- Musaddas-e-Hali (Ebb and Tide in Islam) Verse translation of Maulana Altaf Husain Hali's Magnum Opus written in 1867. Harper Collins, 2003
- My Voice Shall be Heard: Status of Muslim Women 2003, Muslim Women’s Forum, November 2003
- Beautiful Country Stories from another India (Gunjan Veda), HarperCollins, 2012
- Maulana Azad, Islam, and Indian National Movement, OUP India, 2014
- Bread Beauty Revolution: Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (Iffat Fatima), Tullika Books, 2015
- A Life in Education: K G Saiyidain (Zakia Zaheer), Pan Macmillan, 2015
- Shahkar e Adaab: Selections from Classic Urdu Literature, Rekhta Books, 2016
- Gold Dust of Begum Sultans (Zakia Zaheer), Rupa Books, 2016
Born to be Hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: Triumph and Tragedy