On the 8th March, spanning across the globe, many countries celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women. Whatever your perspective, despite undeniable and vast progress, many women and girls still face gender-based issues each and every day. We must remember and recognise that there is much more which has to change to ensure an equal, bright and safe future for young girls of today.
The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. In Bandarban town both women AND men marched together through the streets in celebration, ranging from school children, NGO employees to local dignitaries.
The face of women here in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is represented through many and varying forms. Some wear nijab and others bhurka, with indigenous women bathing at dusk in the local pond, swimming, splashing and laughing with delight.
Most however work hard while facing restrictions and prejudice of some kind, just the same as their sisters in other parts of the world. Even so, I do see great strength, passion and talent in the women here, which I feel sure will continue to move things forward, shaping a more empowered life for those generations yet to come.
While walking back to the office from the march today I stopped to speak with some local marma women, one of whom asked me to take her photograph. I find her strong and dignified image fairly representative of the indiginous women living here in Bandarban.