From 26 to 28 May 2022, we celebrated WOW Virtual Bangladesh 2022, the second edition of WOW Virtual Bangladesh online festival celebrating women, girls and other communities in the country.
This year through WOW Virtual Bangladesh 2022 the British Council along with our strategic partners Mongol Deep Foundation and CCD Bangladesh have achieved in fulfilling our aim to “Celebrate the Indomitable” and continue our support of safe spaces for dialogue, celebrate the achievement of women and girls, include men and other genders in conversations to enable change and work towards better understanding that gender equality benefits everyone.
Day 1 started with Umme Habiba and her dance performance to ‘Baadh Bhengey Dao’, a powerful song composed and written by Rabindranath Tagore. The inspirational song calls everyone to break barriers of all sorts of imprisonment of the mind and body, embrace the new and rejoice in liberation. Shirin Akter, the renowned Olympic athlete and former fastest female sprinter of Bangladesh shared her valuable thoughts and experience in WOW Bites segment. We enjoyed Baul Shah Abdul Karim’s famous songs that depicts the complex strife between love and pain performed by 94-year-old Bangladeshi folk music artists from Sylhet and Ekushey Padak winner, Sushma Das. WOW One-on-One was graced by a conversation between Jenny Sealy MBE (CEO and Artistic Director, Graeae Theatre Company) and Esha Yousuf (Film Producer, Actor and Theatre Artist) discuss being leading women in theatre and disability arts. The celebration for the day ended with WOW Bites from Alpana Rani Mistri, Farmer and Bangabandhu Krishi Award winner, who shared stories of her support to thousands of local farmers by teaching them methods of storing seeds of various vegetables.
For the second day, we had a panel Discussion moderated by Sakib Bin Rashid (development professional and influencer) discussing ‘What does it mean to be an ally?’ and talked about public opinions, how men can be allies in contesting gender discrimination, how to challenge the prevailing narrative with Sabeena Akhter (Writer/Editor and Senior Programmer at the WOW Foundation), Sharmin Rahman (Head of Corporate Branding and Engagements at Grameenphone), Naveed Mahbub (Founder and CEO of Naveed's Comedy Club) and Dr. Rumana Dowla (Founder of Palliative Care and Supportive Care Foundation) In our Pop-Up Performance we saw Dholeshwari Opera, inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, dramatises the damaging psychological effects of ambition on those who seek power through any means. This adaptation was performed by Tropa Majumdar (playing Noyontara, inspired by Lady Macbeth) and Pantha Shahriar (playing Murad, inspired by Macbeth). The story slowly unfolded through the female lens to portray Noyontara’s internal struggles and her journey as the troupe’s famous but aging lead actress.
On our concluding day, we organised Muppet video by Sisimpur on 'Unwanted Touch' through our Under 10’s Feminist Corner. This segment was showcased for limited time only. On WOW Bites we talked with Sanjiboni, Officer in BRAC Bank, Transwoman. On Pop-Up Performance segment, established dance group Colours of Hill performed a celebratory song depicting the beauty of the traditional Sangrai festival of the indigenous people. Sangrai is the name of the New Year celebration of the Bangladeshi Marma and Rakhine ethnic groups, where they say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new year. We also had the opportunity to listen Dr. Salma Sultana, Veterinarian and Researcher, one of top 100 Asian Scientists for innovation in veterinary treatment in our WOW Bites segment. Our WOW Virtual Bangladesh 2022 ended with WOW One on One where conversation between Sara Zaker (Co-Chairperson of Asiatic 3sixty, theatre actor and director) and Sonia Bashir Kabir (Founder of SBK Tech Ventures and SBK Foundation) took place about being women leaders in media, tech and the corporate world.