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India: Loss of Sulabha A. Donde, strong trade union leader and force for progress for women and trade unions

Education International is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Sulabha A. Donde, Senior Vice President of All India Primary Teachers’ Federation and Chairperson of the Women’s Network of her union, a leader who has played a vital role in the struggle for the equal treatment of girls and women in education in her country.

The death of Sulabha on 3 June is an irreplaceable loss for the All India Primary Teachers’ Federation (AIPTF), Education International (EI) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Teachers Federation (STF). She will be remembered for the tremendous contributions she made to the field of women’s equality and progress in their profession and in their unions. A leader in her field, Sulabha’s spirit and determination were powerful and her reach was wide.  She raised awareness of the persistent challenges and injustices facing young girls in India. Her proposed solutions were always well-argued and researched. 

To AIPTF President Sh. Ram Pal Singh, “the loss of Sulabha A. Donde creates an irreparable vacuum that teachers around the globe mourn heavily”.

“We in the Australian Education Union (AEU) are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of our dear sister Sulabha,” AEU Federal Secretary and EI President Susan Hopgood echoed, adding that “Sulabha has been a guiding light and mentor to many as she has stood up for equality for women and opposed injustice and discrimination with incredible courage.”  

“She has played a leading role in the AIPTF’s women’s network and the AEU will always be grateful for her guidance. Sulabha will be greatly missed across the region and beyond,” Hopgood stressed.

EI Chief Regional Coordinator Anand Singh, in a message to the APTF, said, “On behalf of the Regional Committee and the Secretariat, I wish to express my sincere condolences to you and all the colleagues in AIPTF”.

“The way we know her, Sulabha was a strong women, full of life, always very focused and determined. She was instrumental in mainstreaming gender in AIPTF, and she always raised gender issues,” he mentioned.

He also remembered her as “a person who could light up a room with her smile. Though she was quiet and never sought to bring attention to herself, everyone loved her for her positive outlook.” 

“Her contributions of long dedication and selfless service to AIPTF and Education International will not be forgotten,” he stressed.

On behalf of Education International, General Secretary David Edwards, extended sincere condolences to Sulabha A. Donde’s family, friends and colleagues. He stressed that, “she will never be forgotten and will remain close to our hearts as a treasured member of the EI family.”