A significant percentage of the population of Bangladesh consists of youth and women, and without the inclusion of more than half of its citizen, a country cannot progress. In order to empower the youth and women in strengthening the country's development, Tanjila Mazumder Drishti, a social activist from Bangaldesh, has been organising and coordinating social development projects focusing on youth and women for the past seven years.
Drishti, currently pursuing her Masters degree in Globalisation, Business and Development at IDS, University of Sussex, thinks by empowering women, we shape a pathway for an entire household to move out of poverty. “It is more than just empowering an individual. Patriarchy will slowly and steadily be won against at the grassroots level by empowering the women of the family,” says Drishti.
Along with women, it is essential to inculcate the future of the country - the youth, and since 2011 Drishti has been persistently working to run appropriate youth development initiatives to produce young leaders, who acquire more than merely marketable skills. In 2014, due to her work, Drishti was chosen to lead Noble Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus's Youth Delegation to One Young World Summit 2014.
Representing Bangladesh in various international summit and the Commonwealth, Drishti believes that we, Bangladeshis, come across as a resilient group of people, which is why we have the potential to fight crisis including child marriage, unemployment, refugee crisis etc. Drishti, who is a Bangladeshi herself, and her never die spirit created opportunity for 35 talented female garment workers out of more than 2000 garment workers to pursue higher education under AUW Support Foundation's women empowerment project, 'Pathway for Promise'. When Drishti was interviewing the workers, one particular woman named Sabina Yasmin, stole her heart with her answer on why she should be selected for the programme. Yasmin said, “If you give me opportunity, I will study and make sure I work for the sisters in my garment.” This inspired Drishti to work with those who have faced the struggle and know the sector better. Yasmin has completed first year of her bachelor education now and is in the process of launching her own menstrual health awareness campaigns for female RMG workers.
People, whom we are working for, should be working with us to help us understand their narratives and come up with better solutions. However, from Drishti's experience, she has seen that these people's voices are hardly incorporated in the city plan. Drishti worked as the youngest regional manager of BRAC in 2015, leading regional operations of the Urban Development Programme. According to Drishti, in order to mobilise young people and women in urban slum areas, we have to make the urban poor people an active part of the urban governance.
During her time with BRAC, Drishti ran her very own initiative of door-to-door campaign against child marriage in rural Bangladesh between 2014 and 2015. She realised that, a lot of women were not aware of the health risks of early pregnancy and, mothers were surprised and concerned about their daughters’ lives. However, since we live in a patriarchal society, a lot of women who resisted were harassed. Inclusion of fathers, therefore, is really important to stop child marriage.
Recently, in April 2018, Drishti attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London as a youth representative of Bangladesh, where 53 nation heads of Commonwealth countries came together to discuss future strategies for their countries. Drishti says, travelling is an integral part of working in the development sector. For a young woman like Drishti, it was challenging to step out of home and keep on working for the people of her country. She thinks, there is still an unspoken resistance towards young female leadership as a result of the deep rooted patriarchy in our society, and we need to change that together as a society.