Star Lifestyle wishes its readers a Happy Women's Day and hopes that the cue for revisioning social perceptions will receive wider mileage.
Since 1911, governments, civil society organisations, corporate and educational institutions and media outlets around the world have been celebrating International Women's Day on 8March every year. Each year the United Nations declares an annual theme that is the central focus of events commemorating this day and in 2014 the theme is 'inspiring change', encouraging advocacy for women everywhere in every way.
In Bangladesh, as with the rest of the world, International Women's Day is observed to celebrate the social, political and economic advancements of women. Over the last few years, Bangladesh has performed consistently well on indicators of women's development -- achieving equality in primary school enrolment rates, increasing women's participation in the workforce and making significant progress in improving women's health.
Despite these gains, challenges remain in achieving gender equality. Discrimination against the girl child exists from an early age and girls are taught to tie their self-worth to their physical appearances and potential husbands. Daughters are considered burdensome by many, especially if they are dark-skinned; the bias towards light complexions is one that is present in all sections of society. The issue is compounded by an influx of skin whitening products on local and regional markets and a band of popular celebrities endorsing these products as their personal determinants of success.
Recently however, the movement against the fair skin complex has found voice in exciting new initiatives such as the 'Dark is Beautiful' campaign organised by Indian NGO, Women of Worth and championed by parallel cinema actress Nandita Das.
This year, in keeping with the theme of inspiring change, Star Lifestyle too advocates a shift in the social consensus that fair is beautiful. Our Centrefold this week explores the reasons behind the fairness fetish in the subcontinent and highlights the importance of campaigns that challenge this notion. On Page 9 we have an ode to ebony, followed by an interview on Page 12 with women's empowerment icon Bibi Russell on the challenges and successes of her career.
Star Lifestyle wishes its readers a Happy Women's Day and hopes that the cue for revisioning social perceptions will receive wider mileage. Change begins at home and if we cannot raise our children to believe that they are equal irrespective of gender or skin tone, we have failed to instil in them the sense of acceptance that they require to reach their full potentials.