The theme for 2019’s International Women’s Day campaign is ‘Balance for Better’, encouraging more balanced and equitable relationships between men and women for a better society. With that motto, Youth Talk 1.0, facilitated by Plan International Bangladesh, was held on March 7 at The Daily Star Center in Dhaka. The talk, which was organised under the Girls Advocacy Alliance project, focused on the youth’s perspectives on women empowerment in Bangladesh. Plan International is a development and humanitarian organisation that advocates for children’s rights and equality for women and girls among other things.
Ehsan Kabir, Communication Specialist, Plan International Bangladesh, hosted the event, where Orla Murphy, Country Director, Plan International Bangladesh, along with other guests, were present.
Taslima Yasmin, an assistant professor at University of Dhaka and a representative of UN Women, discussed the technical issues of Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and how Bangladesh is responding to this international treaty and its implementation. The government of Bangladesh’s reservations and limitations about CEDAW were discussed briefly.
Guest speaker Farzana Sultana, Development Advisor, Global Affairs Canada (GAC), signified Canada’s position in the international community as a changed state for women. She mentioned that previously, Canada lagged behind in women’s empowerment but now as the nation is excelling in many aspects, she believes that Bangladesh can also do so by following Canada’s footsteps.
A panel discussion moderated by Tania Zaman, Head of Child Rights, Plan International Bangladesh, involved four inspiring members from the young community. The discussion focused on the different barriers that women face and why they are afraid of raising their voices against the injustices in today’s world. Meghna Alam, a social activist and founder of Ekottro, a youth network, shared her ideas and views on the changes our society needs. She currently works as a member of La Via Campesina, an international peasants’ movement and the Secretary of IT at South Asian Peoples Forum-Bangladesh chapter. Alam is also a One Young World Ambassador and part of Professor Mohammad Yunus’s delegation to the Summit in Dublin, 2014.
Another member of the panel,Dolon Champa Dutta, a Media Studies and Journalism student at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), voiced her views on the role of media and positive journalism in creating a better society for women. Currently, Dolon is the Editor-In-Chief of ULAB’s campus-based newspaper, The ULABian. She is also the Research and Publication Head at CinemaScope, which is another campus apprenticeship programme, and she is the Deputy Station Manager at ULAB’s CampBuZz, which is the first official campus radio in Bangladesh. Dolon is also a professional dancer and singer, having received a national award for recitation as well. Other panel members included Shakawat Hossain, a staff reporter at Kaler Kontho and a graduate journalist of the National Children Task Force and Nibras Bin Sayed, a Media Studies and Journalism student at ULAB. The audience also participated actively in the discussion. Dolon recited a poem titled, Nari and two other students from ULAB performed an emotional song dedicated to women, at the end of the programme.