Icchedana, a drama series about a group of Bangladeshi adolescent girls who triumph over gender stereotypes and society’s restrictions, marks its highly-anticipated return to the small screen on Wednesday.

Icchedana, a show jointly created by UNICEF and the ministry of women and children’s affairs, will be broadcast on BTV at 9:30pm every Wednesday from 14 September, 2022.

It will also be televised on Asian TV at 7:30pm every Sunday from 25 September 2022 and ATN Bangla at 11:20pm every Tuesday from 27 September 2022.

Season 3 of the show continues the story of Tanzila, her all-girl football team and their community as they strive to make their own way, to avoid child marriage and to realise their ambitions.

“Girls and women in Bangladesh have so much to contribute to society, yet they are being held back by discrimination and harmful practices. Icchedana highlights positive practices and encourages adolescent girls to thrive and fully participate in life. It is crucial to end child marriage and ensure that gender equality becomes a reality,” said Md Hasanuzzaman Kallol, secretary to the ministry of women and children’s affairs.

In Icchedana, adolescent girls from the fictional village of Haathmathali overcome the pressure to submit to early marriage, confront sexual harassment, and find ways to manage their menstrual hygiene.

Season 3 features storylines about mental health, bullying and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on adolescents. The series highlights the need to invest in girls’ education, and the importance of encouraging young people to speak out on policies that affect them.

“Too many girls and women in Bangladesh suffer from discrimination, abuse and violence because of harmful social norms and practices. But change is possible. Icchedana is a celebration of what girls can achieve, and a call to each of us to join the fight for gender equality,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF representative to Bangladesh.

Girls in Bangladesh face many barriers to achieving their full potential. Fifty-one per cent of women were married before they turned 18.

Married girls are over four times more likely to be out of school than unmarried girls, to the detriment of their health, well-being, education and career prospects. Child brides are more vulnerable to domestic violence, and their children less likely to thrive.

“It is important for girls in Bangladesh to have a positive role model they can identify with. Tanzila shows that change is possible, and that girls can overcome adversity to win respect and equal treatment, especially if we are united and support and encourage each other,” said actress Priyam Archi, who plays the lead character Tanzila.