New Delhi, Mar 13: Begum Hamida Habibullah, a name that became synonymous with philanthropy in Uttar Pradesh, passed away at home in Lucknow on Tuesday. She was 101. Begum Habibullah is survived by her son Wajahat, daughter-in-law Shahila, and her grandchildren. The funeral is slated to be held at 5pm in village Saidanpur, Barabanki, said a press release by the family.

Known best as the founder of Sewa Lucknow, a one-stop shop for Chikan garments, Begum Hamida Habibullah donned many hats in her life. Sewa Lucknow currently employs as many as 5,000 chikan artists, all trained and hired by the organisation.

Born on November 20, 1916, in Lucknow, Begum Hamida Habibullah was the daughter of Late Nawab Nazir Yar Jung Bahadur, Chief Justice of Hyderabad High Court. Most of her childhood years were spent in Hyderabad. Hailing from a privileged background as she did, Begum Habibullah took her education seriously. She completed her BA from Osmania University and was a gold medallist. She also took a teachers’ training course from Whitelands College (Putney), London.

Begum Habibullah was married to Major General Enaith Habibullah, the first commandant of National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla. Once he retired in 1965, Begum Habibullah joined active politics. She was an MLA from Haidergarh in Barabanki and handled portfolios of Social And Harijan Welfare and Tourism as early as 1971.

She served as an executive member of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee and All India Congress Committee. She also served as the president of Mahila Congress from 1972-76. She was nominated a Rajya Sabha member in 1976.

Another field that the begum focused on was women’s education and she was the president of Avadh Girls’ Degree College, Lucknow’s first English degree college, since 1975. She was also the president of Talimgah-e-Niswan College, a 3,500-strong school  that caters to the education of Muslim girls.

With her passing away, Lucknow may have lost a proponent of women empowerment but her legacy will live on.