Female students from outside Dhaka attended a day-long workshop and seminar sessions
4th-5th November, 2016. Dhaka - In an endeavour of changing the limits in education and career set on women and girls at such an intrinsic level, YES Alumni Bangladesh, under the U.S. Department of State, is executing a project, named 3.5 Billion Reasons, in which female students from outside Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, attended a day-long workshop and seminar sessions, paired with mentors and coached by trainers and speakers. Female students from grades 9 to 11 from Narshingdi, Netrokona, Munshiganj, Sylhet, Mymensigh, Chittagong; each pair of students were paired with mentors who are female students who are pursuing, have pursued, or are eager to pursue a higher education. Mentors include Tahseen Lubaba, a first year student of Law at University of Dhaka; Sumaiya Khan, a junior in The South Breeze High School; Tabassum Ahmed, holding a Bachelors degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST); Sumaia Sajjad, a student of marketing at North South University; Nafisa Nowshin Ahmed, an undergraduate student at BRAC university in Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Shatabdi Halder Uma, a B.Sc. student in Computer Science and Engineering at Uttara University; Nawar Fairooz, a student of literature at Independent University, Bangladesh; Daniella Pope, a BBA student at North South University; and Raidah Morshed, an A-level student and an intern at Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST). Speakers and trainers included, other than Mohammad Mustahsin Islam (YES’08), Sameirah Nasrin Ahsan (YES’07), Afroza Sultana (YES’06), and Nileema Khan. Sameirah holds a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University and has worked as HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) consultant in Hawaii, USA, for 3 years. She returned to Bangladesh to join as a Fire Safety Engineer for the Bangladesh Accord, and is pursuing a masters degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Afroza completed her B.A. (Honours) from University of Rajshahi. She developed a live weekly radio show called “Youth Voice” as platform for young people to share and communicate regarding problems they face. Nileema is a Career Counselor at DPS STS School Dhaka and is the founder of the institution for Experimental Learning Bangladesh. Following half a day of ice-breaking and socializing and an overnight stay at BRAC Learning Center in Uttara to allow some time for the mentors and mentees to warm up and get to know one another, the full-fledged workshop took place the next day. The workshop started with an ice breaking session and case studies of women and girls whose education are hampered by either circumstances or society. This allowed students to develop critical thinking and analysis skills and use it in everyday situations. The students also made their own Vision Boards and wrote letters to their future selves in a process of realizing and implementing practical steps in achieving their dreams. With games that helped identify how personal opportunities and circumstantial advantages vary with socioeconomic status, and skits arranged by mentees themselves with key themes of child marriage and education, the students learned how to recognize that struggles are individual for every socioeconomic situation, that tackling these problems isn’t necessarily the same for everyone, and that, irrelevant of how hard tackling them are, these are problems that need to be realized and solved for everyone. Students also heard stories from successful guest speakers, and had a session in an extensive breakdown of patriarchal agendas holding women back in society to help recognize that move against them better. The workshop was concluded with how to do an activity of their own at their schools to empower students and youth, which they are expected to complete within a month. This is expected to exponentially increase the number of students that this project can effectively empower - the session was conducted by Mustahsin Islam. The girls are given time till January, 2017, to establish clubs in their communities and then come back to the city again for their showcase. YES alumni Bangladesh members will help these girls facilitate their projects in their communities.