With the tagline, 'Empower our women, bloom our nation', the social welfare organisation Solace intends to address gender-based discrimination through important conversations. Founded by Zainab Tanzim and Reesha Ahmed, the organisation has taken several initiatives to uplift the lives of underprivileged women and other communities. "After losing both my grandmothers in a span of six months, I was feeling very lost. Through this organisation, I wanted to help people," Zainab shared. Solace has provided aid to more than 4,000 individuals so far.
The organisation works closely with women's issues. According to the founders, large wage gaps, tokenistic representation in the workplace, lack of job opportunities and ignorant ideas about female healthcare are some of the many issues that women have to deal with. "Majority of underprivileged women experience domestic abuse and those who decide to take a stand have little to no help available. We hope to be agents of aid by providing a safe space to inspire such women," Zainab said.
In February 2020, Solace's team raised BDT 90,000 to help the victims of the Banani slum fire. With 35 young volunteers, they distributed packets of rice, lentils and potatoes among the slum dwellers. During the initial days of the pandemic, they conducted the virtual event, 'Help from Home', to inspire people to prepare meals for rickshaw pullers and homeless individuals. "We distributed cooked meals and handed out food packages until the third day of Eid," Zainab said. Through this initiative, they were able to feed over 2,000 people on the streets. Moreover, they supported 50 families during Eid by providing them with relief packages, along with monetary donations.
Solace also organised a virtual bake sale in August and all the proceedings of the event were used to purchase reusable sanitary napkins for the flood victims in Sylhet. As far as their annual events are concerned, they plan on continually organising their winter wear distribution drives over the next few years. Solace is currently participating in the collaborative project, 'Usshotar Khoje', with TransEnd, The Dhaka Apologue, Ekhoni, Unstitched Women's Tapestry and ProjectDebi, in order to help transgender communities. "Using our collective donations, we are distributing blankets among impoverished transgender individuals," Zainab added.
They are using their social media platforms to raise awareness and help educate people about several gender-based issues. By covering the incidents that women encounter, Solace is shedding light on the problems that either do not receive substantive media attention, or do not have meaningful constructive discourse due to the prevailing stigma.
In the long run, the organisation intends to make education more accessible, and build a safe learning environment for young women and girls. They hope to impact the employment rates of women, by spreading awareness regarding healthy work environments. Solace also aims to educate more women about the importance of menstrual hygiene and give them access to proper, sustainable menstrual hygiene tools.
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