Women, who showed their courage, struggled and succeeded in different fields of the country, made a solid promise of moving ahead on the strength of their own capability following the path of honesty and truth.
Senior and accomplished women lauded them. The warm bond between the younger and the older generation filled the event organised in the late spring afternoon marking the International Women’s Day.
Prothom Alo organised the event Monday at Dhanmondi’s Chhayanaut Shangskriti-Bhaban auditorium with the support of City Bank's specialised service for women 'City Alo'.
The event started at 4pm with the song 'Anondoloke Mongolaloke' in artiste Rezwana Choudhury Bannya’s voice while the digital screen at the back of the stage sparkled with lights. All the guests present at the auditorium sang along.
Prothom Alo associate editor Shumana Sharmin moderated the event. It was filled with musical performances, stories of the courageous, protesting, successful and struggling women in their own words, honouring them and speeches of the guests.
It began with a musical performance by mother-daughter duo Nashid Kamal and Armeen Musa. The mother sang Kazi Nazrul Islam’s ‘Sukhno Patar Nupur’ while the daughter sang the original Turkish song that inspired the poet to create this song. Later they performed folk song, ‘Bhromora Re’.
Five accomplished women shared stories of their life struggles, hobbies and success. Prothom Alo has published some of their stories recently and stories of the others will be published in the special Women’s Day-issue.
Theater artiste Mohsina Akhter said, she simultaneously works as an actor, director, stage designer and lighting engineer. She works hard seven days a week.
She remarked, you have to prove yourself with your own capabilities. Still, you get to hear many negative comments. She’s moving ahead with courage without paying heed to those words, she added.
Female biker Sadia Yasmin Chowdhury said many don’t want to accept the fact she rides a motorbike despite being a woman. She gets to experience many interesting experiences also.
When stuck in traffic jam on the roads of Dhaka, sometimes traffic police or bikers next to her calls her ‘brother’ habitually. Then when she takes her helmet off and says, 'I am not a brother', they get flustered completely.
Freelancer Dina Mree from Tangail shared how she became successful as a freelancer after leaving her nursing job. All her family members including her husband are involved in the medical profession.
She too followed them after completing formal education in nursing. But she wanted to try something independently. Although her family objected at first, she trained and began freelancing quitting her job.
Uber driver Moriyam Akhter shared her struggles in life. She had a business of her own which closed down in the corona period. She incurred huge losses. She then contacted Uber and started working as a registered driver with them.
Many used to be surprised seeing her drive in the beginning. In Moriyam’s word, “People used to stare as if she was a deer at the zoo.” But she didn’t give up. Now she earns Tk 3,000 to 3,500 daily.
She shared a funny incident when a commuter travelled from Nikunja to Dhanmondi in her car. The passenger was so pleased, he bought her a kilogram of sweets and gave her a tip of Tk 500.
She said, “There’s nothing called a small or big job. Many of us do jobs abroad that we feel ashamed to do here. I respect my job and I’m free.”
Lamiya Ashraf Mowla is a young Bangladeshi astronomer working at US space research organisation NASA. She was on the team that worked on the first photograph taken by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
She said, “Astronomers have to work at night. For space observation one has to climb on top of the mountains or move to remote places. Women in our country face many obstacles when it comes to that.”
“Women face innumerble barriers in many fields. To realise their dreams, women have to break free of those obstacles and move forward with courage,” she continued.
Salma Akhter, country's first female football referee making it to the AFC Elite Panel, showed similar attitude. She said, it feels good to have come this far. But the path wasn’t easy. She dreams of refereeing Asian matches in the World Cup.
Seniors greeted these accomplished women with flower bouquets.
There were human rights activist Hameeda Hossain, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad president Fauzia Moslem, former caretaker government advisor Rasheda K Chowdhury, first female president of Institute of Chartered Accounts Bangladesh's Parveen Mahmud and beautician Kaniz Almas Khan among them.
Rasheda K Chowdhury congratulating those women said their success and courage to overcome obstacles will inspire others.
Then the setting changed entirely. Face of a girl face appeared on the digital screen. The face, etched on the heart with grief and love, is familiar to all now.
Sarah Islam, the girl who died of an incurable disease, too early, had donated her organs prior to her death. Sarah's donated organs have been transplanted and the recipients have recovered.
Sarah's mother Shabnam Sultana came on the stage. Holding her tears, she talked of her brave daughter. She said she has returned to her job again.
Prothom Alo managing editor Anisul Hoque presented her a bouquet of flowers.
City Bank additional managing director Mahia Juned sharing her experience said she has two daughters and she gives her girls freedom of pursuing anything they wish.
Then again, she doesn’t want them staying out past evening for there are many reasons to be worried in the society. This condition of the society must be changed, she added.
Then a triumphant mother Syeda Ratna came on stage. She along with her son staged a protest to save a playground in Panthapath area.
There was a series of incidents back then. The mother-son duo was taken to the police station. Syeda Ratna however stood her ground till the last.
She also shared her experience. You have to stand against injustice courageously. You’re sure to win, if you move ahead with courage with rational demands.
Female leader and researcher Maleka Begum along with handicraft expert Monjulika Chakma honoured her.
While speaking, Maleka Begum said these incidents of women's struggle and protests are very encouraging. Firdausi Qadri, a Bangladeshi Magsaysay Award winning scientist also came on the stage.
Prothom Alo deputy editor AKM Zakaria, youth programme head Munir Hasan, online head Shawkat Hossain and news editor Razib Hassan thanked them all.
City Bank managing director and chief executive officer Mashrur Arefin said that City Bank is delighted to join this celebration of Prothom Alo.
60 per cent of all violence against women occurs within the family. They keep silent being a victim of repression. Women should be the first to address this. This situation will change only if they themselves are vocal, he added.
Then, two foreign nationals, accomplished women in Dhaka, second secretary (politics) of the British High Commission, Doyin Adele-Shiyanbola and United Nations Women Country Representative Gitanjali Singh were greeted with flowers by Prothom Alo executive editor Sajjad Sharif and Prothom Alo English Web head of content Ayesha Kabir.
Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman took to the stage towards the end of the programme. He said, “The world is moving forward. As per the theme of this year's Women's Day, we want to move ahead with gender equality in digital technology.”
“This event is to appreciate those who have risen from lower class of the society, have struggled and protested with courage,” he added.
The entire event was dedicated to women's courageous role and indomitable morale.
As part of that, Matiur Rahman called brave girl Fulpori Khatun, who was recently tortured at Kushtia’s Islamic University and protested it, on stage with her father Ataur Rahman, mother Taslima Khatun and brother.
They came on the stage with Prothom Alo Kushtia correspondent Towhidi Hasan.
In a tearful voice Phulpari Khatun said, the torture she had to endure after only four days of taking admission is unspeakable. She wished no students be subjected to such torture in Bangladesh as well as nowhere else in the world.
Fulpori's father Ataur Rahman said, “I encouraged my daughter to protest. I told her we live honestly and walk on the path of truth. And, that is our strength and courage.”
Then Barsha Rani, an Adamya Medhabi from Taraganj in Rangpur came on the stage. She is now teaching at a government high school after completing her master's on BRAC Bank-Prothom Alo Trust scholarship. Plus, she has cleared BCS written exam this time. While sharing her life struggle she thanked Prothom Alo for the support.
The event ended with songs by Priyanka Gope. Head of cultural programme at Prothom Alo Kabir Bakul greeted her with flowers.
Priyanka performed songs like ‘Aji Notun Roton’ and ‘Ami Bonful Go’.
The event ended on a positive note hoping for a better future with the song ‘Amra Korbo Joy’ pp ' We shall overcome'.