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Defending Women’s Rights in Bangladesh

This article is a revisit to when the CSC Alumni in Bangladesh held a workshop in 2018 to support International Women Rights Defenders Day. Keep reading to find out more about the day and how the association helped empower victims of gender violence.

To mark International Women Rights Defenders Day, on the 29 November 2018 the British Council Bangladesh organised a workshop as part of the 16 Days of Activism for Violence against Women and Children, to support women to speak out against gender violence. Over 100 women and adolescent girls who have been victims of gender violence attended the workshop held in Dhaka at the offices of Tarango, an NGO which works towards establishing a just and poverty-free society by organising and training disadvantaged women in Bangladesh, and is managed by CEO and Commonwealth Alumnus Kohinoor Yeasmin (2009 Professional Fellows, Education and Governance, Rights of Women). The workshop was facilitated by Commonwealth Alumni Saudia Anwer (2014 Shared Scholar, MSc Environmental Change and International Development) and Farhana Sharmin (2010 Professional Fellow, Public Health, University College London).

Participants left their handprints on canvas beneath the statement '16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children'

Participants left their handprints on canvas

Sessions were delivered for 130 working mothers and daughters on career planning and how to resist harassment. Saudia, who currently works with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provided suggestions for women working at Tarango on how to effectively plan their future given their limited resources and educational background. She provided information on different career help programmes offered by the UNDP and other government agencies which can assist them in taking charge of their finances. Farhana, who works with the World Health Organization (WHO), conducted a session on fighting harassment, a common occurrence in the lives of the women at Tarango and their adolescent daughters. She emphasised that no matter the difficulty, mothers should not refrain from sending their daughters to school for fear of harassment. She also outlined different government and legal channels available to help these women fight against harassment.

The talks were followed by a Q&A session. Attendees greatly appreciated the information provided and shared that they felt more confident about standing up to harassment. The younger girls also felt inspired to pursue their education despite various socio-economic challenges.

The programme also included an art competition. Thirty girls took part in this and drew pictures under the theme of a violence-free family, society, and city. After lunch, Kohinoor expressed a note of thanks to the alumni who had volunteered to conduct the sessions and shared her hope that attendees would benefit from the knowledge gained. The event ended with a cultural performance delivered by victims of gender violence, and subsequently prizes were distributed by alumni to the winners of the art competition and the dance performers.

All the participants left their handprints on canvas to say, ‘No violence against women and children’.

Photos from the event are available on CSC Flickr

If you are a Commonwealth Alumnus and would like to find out more about CSC events and activities taking place in Bangladesh, please contact alumni@cscuk.org.uk

You can also get involved in the local alumni association in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Association of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows (BACSAF), which is coordinated by Rafiqul Islam (2005 Professional Fellow, University of Nottingham).

Photos on flickr

@commschols on Twitter

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