It was marked by No Passport Voice, a non-profit with an engaging and aesthetically exquisite event at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh on 11 October 2019.
This event was hosted by the founder of No Passport Voice and the Dhaka Chapter Chair of ALL Ladies League (ALL) Barrister Fatemaa Waariithah Ahsan along with the co-founders of No Passport Voice, Barrister Prianka Ahsan and Barrister Priya Ahsan.
Ms Mia Seppo, Resident Coordinator of UN in Bangladesh as the guest of honour, Ms Tahera Yasmin, Operation Manager Rule of Law, GIZ and Barrister Tania Amir, advocate supreme court of Bangladesh, Farzana Chowdhury CEO and Managing Director of Green Delta Insurance Ltd, Former Ambassador and one of the finest diplomat of Bangladesh Mr Suhrab Hossain graced the event as special guests and speakers. Dr Sangeeta Goswami, President of Mind India, Ms Radhika Goswami Director of Agora, the Space and Barrister Fatemaa Waariithah Ahsan held a panel discussion on the importance of cultural techniques to help raise social awareness.
Among other distinguished guests, the event was charged with youth energy Jhohan, the Guinness World Record holder for holding the most head stalls with a football who started the event with a brief show of the magic he creates, the captain and two members of the Bangladesh National Women’s football team, Priota, the flag girl and Raba Khan, a social media influencer and the only youth advocate of Unicef from Bangladesh.
The event was opened by Barrister Fatemaa Waariithah Ahsan who was the keynote speaker and welcome address. Ms Ahsan also recited a forwarded message from the Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr AK Abdul Momen who was the chief guest in the occasion and has sent best wishes to the No Passport Voice team and also mentioned about the advancement of Bangladeshi women across the globe.
Ms Mia Seppo started her speech by reading out a joint statement by various UN agencies which spoke about supporting girls by amplifying their voices and stand by their rights. She also mentioned about the significant progress Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in fighting gender disparities.
She further said Girl power is not about being tougher than the toughest man in the room, it is about compassion, empathy and kindness. She ended the speech by a message from the UN Secreatry General Antonio Guterres which said “Girls are organising a leading movement to tackle issues such as child marriage educational inequality, violence etc as the theme of this year’s discoursed they are proving to be Unscripted and Unstoppable”.
“It is important to mentor a girl during her transitional period from being a teenager to an adult”, said Ms Tahera Yasmin. Ms Yasmin also spoke about how the whole conversation turns to protecting a girl once she suddenly physically grows up. She called it a killer notion. “We cannot change the statistics of young girls getting married unless we change the way we look at young girls. Often their lives change overnight, and we no longer look at them as young girls but as young women”, she said.
We need to modify the colonial laws not just to restrain child marriage but to abolish it said Barrister Tania Amir. She further mentioned the dysfunctional nature of the laws relating to child marriage for making child marriage a civil act and not a criminal one.
The keynote speaker and the host of the event Barrister Fatemaa Waariithah Ahsan said ; “International days are a reminder for us of our social and economic responsibilities as conscious citizens of the country and of the world. Discriminatory abortions against female foetuses, child marriage, sexual trafficking of girls, sexual assault, discriminatory wages, denying property rights, denying education for girls, denying proper medical facilities, discriminatory employment opportunities, issues with water and sanitisation are all real problems around the globe and not just in the developing nations. My duty as the Chapter chair of ALL is to represent Bangladesh in the worldwide web of women and create a circle of sisterhood from Bangladesh to the world.”
“What surprises me is that women at this day and age no matter how successful they are sometimes do not know their own rights for eg, they do not know their own inheretence rights” said Ms Farzanah Chowdhury.
“The education and awareness shall start from home”, said Mr Suhrab Hussain
Barrister Prianka Ahsan highlighted the importance of changing our mentalities towards gender biases and said “toys are much gender biased than ever before, domestic toys for girls and spaceships for boys, this need to change”. She also said gender biasness also comes from women as they do not understand their worth because of certain kind of upbrining. We should encourage enough men around us to fight gender biasness and bring up their daughters as gender neutral she added.
In the youth segment, Barrister Priya Ahsan also one of the hosts of the event presented a paper on girls’ education. She spoke about the improvements in girls’ enrolment/retention at primary and secondary level over the years but the lack of functional literacy among them. She also mentioned a direction by the High Court of Bangladesh directing the Government to form specific rules to assess answer scripts of students with disabilities in all public examinations.
“This direction is particularly important as although Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act 2013 and the draft Education Act 2013 cover aspects of educational needs of disabled children (including girls), but none mentions anything about how they should be assessed”, she said.
The event was partly sponsored by Dhaka Bank Ltd, Doreen Power and Debonair Group and supported by IKAN health London, International School of Stories USA, B Lotus USA, MegaCosmos, Global News network, NewsAge, Mind India, Asian News Channel and World News 24x7.