INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
#IWD2020 #EachforEqual
March 8, 2020

An equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender equal world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.

Nazma – Paramedic, SAJIDA Hospital

Nazma Akhter, 29, first got to know about SAJIDA Hospital’s paramedic course during a pregnancy in 2012. She was already poverty-stricken and battled every day to make ends meet due to her husband’s gambling problems. Her back was against the wall.

She somehow managed the money to enroll herself in the course and completed it in 4 years. She would not have time to pursue any other job to take care of the household and have to rely on her undependable husband for their livelihood. She would count the days to when she’d be able to give her children the financial comfort she yearned for.

Nazma, as soon as she finished her course, landed a job at SAJIDA Hospital and now works there as a nurse for the last 7.5 years. She takes care of her entire family with her salary and thrives to enrich her two daughters with education.

 

TASLIMA – Microfinance Beneficiary

Thirty-five-year-old Taslima Akhter had a knack for embellishing clothes as a pass-time. Residing in Rahmatpur with her small family of two children and husband, she was living a decent life. Taslima earned enough through her business at home to spend on herself first, and then some on her family. 

Taslima would bring cloths from clients, create her own designs, and bring it to life by embellishing them into beautiful dresses. Needless to say, her customers were very happy with her work and soon, orders came pouring in. To keep up with the growing demand, Taslima took a loan of BDT 20,000 from SAJIDA’s Microfinance program and set up a small workshop of women to help with the work. 

All was going well until suddenly her husband had an accident and fell completely bed-ridden. He could neither fend for himself nor his family. With no other way out, Taslima took matters into her own hands. She started financing the household with income from her business, including educating her two children and treating her husband. Although she had little left to herself now, Taslima felt more empowered than ever before. 

Presently, Taslima has around 35 women learning, developing and working under her. It has been ten years since her first loan and four years since she started her business. From then until now, Taslima has nurtured her passion into a full-grown business and created opportunities for numerous other women to grow out of their shells. 

FATIMA – Microfinance Beneficiary

Fatima’s world came crashing down the day she received news of her husband’s cancer diagnosis. With her toddler’s little hands clasped in her own shaking ones, Fatima came to terms with reality; she would have to face this all on her own.

At six, Fatima’s parents stripped her of her right to education so it would be easier to find a groom for her when the time arrived. Now, with no degree or support from either of the families, Fatima was struggling to make ends meet with two young daughters, and thousands to pay in bills for her husband’s treatment. Sadly, her husband never won the battle against cancer and after two and half years of struggle, left behind a grieving family of three helpless women.

Still, Fatima hadn’t lost hope. She instead took charge of her life. Fatima had decided that her daughters will receive all that was taken away from her – the right to education and freedom to make their own choices.

With her passion for work, sewing skills and the right connection, Fatima started her own business in the clothing industry. She hired people from the beginning to upscale her business and maximize profit, while empowering neighbouring girls through skills-training.

Today, 41 year old Fatima is a successful entrepreneur of multiple skill-based businesses; including the renowned Nakshikatha. Simultaneously, Fatima farms chickens, ducks and tends to a fishery. She married-off her first daughter after graduation and waiting completion of her younger daughter’s upcoming SSC exams. Fatima rose above the struggles of life and hopes to empower more like her be their own person – independent and resilient to the adversities of life.

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About International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is observed every year on March 8 as a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality.

International Women’s Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. This day is all about action, advocacy, unity, celebration and reflection. International Women’s Day has been occurring for well over a century – and continues to grow from strength to strength.

What is this year’s theme?

The theme for International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020 is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights. The IWD 2020 campaign theme is drawn from a notion of ‘Collective Individualism’ and is aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

What role does SAJIDA Foundation play?

SAJIDA Foundation, a woman-led organization, focuses greatly on ensuring gender-equality putting necessary emphasis on the issues centred around marginalized women. Over the last 27 years, SAJIDA has taken great strides to bring about meaningful and sustainable change in the communities, lives and well-being of those we worked for; especially women.

SAJIDA’s Adhunika Initiatives helps young women become financially and socially independent by giving them access to ICT training, important life skills education, scholarship support, psychosocial counselling, and awareness building on gender-based violence, reproductive health and breast cancer. At the same time Working with Women Phase II project focuses on mitigating gender-based violence for 3,500 RMG workers through numerous workshops, trainings and awareness sessions on mental and physical health.

PROSHOMON provides free maternal health services and 74 percent of its clients are women, while SAJIDA Hospitals aiding family planning, specializes in maternal as well as child health services and caters to at least 60 percent female patients.

On the other hand, Microfinance’s loan product Suchona offers a completely separate portfolio targeted solely towards women entrepreneurs. Amrao Manush Program specially offers women and girls night shelter, vocational training to aid inclusion in economic development, as well as day-care centres for working mothers. Under SAJIDA’s WASH for Urban Poor, women make up almost 70 percent of the beneficiaries and 80 percent of the overall beneficiary base.

As SAJIDA forges ahead with innovative and quality interventions for people from all strata of the society, we stand committed to always staying true to the values of family first, innovation and quality, dignity, equality, inclusiveness, empowerment of women, compassion, empathy, transparency and accountability. We carry forward our Founder Syed Humayun Kabir’s legacy of reaching out to those in need, not as an act of charity, but as part of our responsibility.

What can You do to ensure a gender-equal world?

An equal world is an enabled world. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. And collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world. We can actively choose to raise awareness on women’s issues, challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

Call out gender stereotypes, assumptions or bias
Call out gender stereotypes, assumptions or bias
Listen more openly to everyone and all genders
Listen more openly to everyone and all genders
Establish a woman-friendly or equal work environment
Establish a woman-friendly or equal work environment
Call out inappropriate behaviour as you see it happening
Call out inappropriate behaviour as you see it happening
Value your female peers’ contributions and achievements
Value your female peers’ contributions and achievements
Uplift each other through positive support and encouragement
Uplift each other through positive support and encouragement

Did You Know?

Why is Purple the colour for International Women’s Day?

Internationally, purple is a colour for symbolising women. Purple signifies justice and dignity. Green symbolises hope. White represents purity, but is no longer used due to ‘purity’ being a controversial concept.

How did International Women’s Day come to exist?

International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900’s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Following great unrest in 1908 caused by oppression and inequality towards women, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and voting rights.

In 1909, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.

Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.