In Rangpur, Bangladesh, a group of Active Citizens planned a Social Action Project (SAP) named ‘Jaago Ognishikha’ after discovering that the women of Begum Rokeya University are suffering from insecurity at every moment. The current situation of women in the country is not a hidden fact either. They are far behind in the sectors of empowerment and skills development. Moreover, the problem of eve-teasing and harassment is ever prevailing. Using the skills developed through their training, this group of youth leaders designed activities to raise awareness about security laws, increase the spontaneous participation of women in the leadership field and create a safe campus for women through self-defence training and awareness-raising programmes. As it is a common problem throughout the country, the Active Citizens of Begum Rokeya University wanted to do their part on a local level to ensure the grander impact.
Based on their initial baseline survey, where about 100 women of Begum Rokeya University participated and shared their views, the youth leaders created a ‘Gender Club’ along with a committee for managing the operations of the SAP. Through a study circle held on 14 November 2019, they discussed the concept, types and prevention of sexual harassment, and organised a class campaign, attended by around 50 university students, where they talked about, ‘The Empowerment and Security of Women’.
The project also celebrated ‘International Mother Language Day’ on 21 February 2020 with an open discussion, where the participants expressed their unspoken views and thoughts concerning the empowerment and security measures of girls on the campus. With the poster display campaign, quotes of some influential people on the importance of women’s empowerment got highlighted to convey a strong message.
Concerned about the current insecure environment for women, ‘Self-defence’ training started from 27 February 2020 to train women different defensive skills to protect themselves. The group of youth leaders also planned to organise online competitions for the university female students, where they can share their life stories, helping everyone to understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, aims and struggles. Moreover, to spread awareness about the security laws and application procedure to the authority, a handbill, as well as video documentation of the journey of the SAP, are next in line to be realised.
The project members celebrated the International Women’s Day 2020 with rallies and debate competitions. Currently, with over 500 students connected through their online page ‘Gender Club’, the team is hopeful that their attempt will encourage more campus students to take similar initiative contributing to a vaster effect.