• Thursday, Sep 20, 2018
  • Last Update : 07:18 pm

Brave, bold and change-making women

  • Published at 03:01 am March 8th, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:03 pm March 9th, 2017
Brave, bold and change-making women
[caption id="attachment_51106" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nasrin Sultana, 48 Warehouse inspector, Fire Services & Civil Defence Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune Nasrin Sultana, 48
Warehouse inspector, Fire Services & Civil Defence
Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Nasrin is a recipient of the President Award for her courageous service to people in disaster prone areas, fire victims, and fire control. 35 fire fighters work under her command at the Lalbagh Fire Station. Who is your biggest supporter? My elder sister Hasina Begum who gave me the courage to pursue my career. What is the biggest obstacle for you? I do not see any barriers. My job is risky but there is no room for excuses in my job. I am a fire fighter first and a woman second. Why this profession? Having the ability to save someone’s life is what made me become a fire fighter in 1984. There is also this sense of adventure which makes every day different and unique. How do you balance professional and personal life? My husband Yousof Ali is my support system, without him I would not be able to balance my personal and professional life. We have two sons and they all know that my work comes before everything else. They are the secret behind my success.
Fahmina is a staff officer at the Information and Technology Department of Bangladesh Navy and mother of twins. [caption id="attachment_51100" align="alignright" width="300"]Fahmida Mohsin, 33 Lieutenant Commander, Bangladesh Navy Staff officer of Information and Technology Department of Bangladesh Navy and a mother of twins Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune Fahmida Mohsin, 33
Lieutenant Commander, Bangladesh Navy
Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Who is your biggest supporter? My parents, they were both very supportive of my career choice. I saw my mother balancing a job and maintaining a family and realised that I could do that too. My father taught me to believe in myself and have courage. What is your biggest obstacle? It is having to spend so much time away from home. I have to be on call 24 hours a day and spend up to nine months at sea with mostly male colleagues. My supervisors are supportive and I have not experienced any gender discrimination. Why this profession? The orderliness of men in naval uniforms made me want to join the Navy. I also graduated with an electrical engineering degree from Buet. How do you balance professional and personal life? With the support of family. When my twins were only a year old I had to go to India for three months. My husband who is also a naval officer and my in-laws took care of our children. Without them I would not be able to balance my career and personal life.
Also Read- Watch: What Dhaka men would do if they were women
[caption id="attachment_51099" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nazia Afrin, 27 Flight Lieutenant, Bangladesh Air Force The first woman pilot to fly the Basic Trainer Transport Aircraft L410 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune Nazia Afrin, 27
Flight Lieutenant, Bangladesh Air Force
Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Nazia is the first Bangladeshi woman to fly the Basic Trainer Transport Aircraft L410 Who is your biggest supporter? My father (retd) Group Captain Ilyas Akhand. What is your biggest obstacle? I refused to let anything get in the way of me becoming a pilot. I focused on the goal and did not stop until I made it. Why this profession? I grew up dreaming to be a pilot just like my father. How do you balance professional and personal life? I have strict divisions between my personal and professional life.
[caption id="attachment_51098" align="alignright" width="300"]Sadia Binte Siddique, 23 Flight Lieutenant, Bangladesh Air Force Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune Sadia Binte Siddique, 23
Flight Lieutenant, Bangladesh Air Force

Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune[/caption] Sadia has been flying the helicopter known as Bell 212 for last two years which is mostly used for rescue and medical evacuation. Who is your biggest supporter? Coming from Barisal, one would not particularly have aspirations like mine but I had very progressively minded parents who supported my career choice wholeheartedly. What is your biggest obstacle? Men who think women should only be a housewife. It is a choice but women should be able to make any kind of career choices she wants and believes she can do. Why this profession? Being a pilot is exceptional. We also have very few female pilots in the force. I love the challenge and the adventure of being a pilot. How do you balance professional and personal life? Strict division between work and leisure time.
Parboti is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science and Sociology at North South University [caption id="attachment_51102" align="alignright" width="300"]Parbati Roy, 29 Lecturer, North South University Parbati comes from the indigenous Chakma community Courtesy Parboti Roy, 29
Lecturer, North South University
Courtesy[/caption] Who is your biggest supporter? My mother, my maternal aunties, my maternal grandparents and a family friend supported me during my higher education at Dhaka University which led to a scholarship in Australia that changed my life. What is the biggest obstacle for you? Overcoming parental disapproval and work place discrimination. My father was so conservative that he did not want me to come to Dhaka for higher studies. I had to break that barrier and prove independence. At my old work place, I did not get support because of being an indigenous woman. Why this profession? Beacuse my work environment is positive and supportive. How do you balance professional and personal life? With support from my family.
Afrosa is a transgendered woman who has been working in the makeup industry for the past 12 years [caption id="attachment_51103" align="alignright" width="300"]Afrosa Hasan Bindiya, 25 Hair and makeup artist, Deepto TV A transgendered woman who has been working in the makeup industry for the past 12 years Courtesy Afrosa Hasan Bindiya, 25
Hair and makeup artist, Deepto TV
Courtesy[/caption] Who is your biggest supporter? My mother and sister. What is the biggest obstacle for you? People’s judgement. My father made me move out of our house because of the gossip I generated in our building. When I was in school kids treated me different but I slowly grew to accept who I was. Why this profession? When I first moved in with the transgender community, I felt I had finally found my home. I was happy. But I realised that there was no respect in the work that we do. I went back home and overcame many obstacles to find a Pakistani beautician, Naznin Khan, who trained me and now I am self-sufficient financially. How do you balance professional and personal life? With the support of my mother and boyfriend.
[caption id="attachment_51104" align="alignleft" width="300"]Banchi Khatun, 42 A hawker selling cigarettes on the street, the breadwinner of her family Courtesy Banchi Khatun, 42
Hawker/ Courtesy[/caption] Banchi sells cigarettes on the street. She is the only person in her family with an income. With the money she earns, she pays for her husband’s medical treatment and tries to send her son to school. But she does not quit. She does not relent “I walk all day to sell cigarettes. After work, I go home to do chores, cook breakfast, lunch and sometime dinner.”  
Parvin is a street food vendor selling pithas to rickshaw-pullers, day labourers, and drivers on the sidewalk. [caption id="attachment_51101" align="alignright" width="300"]Parvin Talukdar, 35 Street food vendorCourtesy Parvin Talukdar, 35
Street food vendor
Courtesy[/caption] Her husband is unemployed but helps with the chores. “My workplace is not friendly and safe for a woman and I face many threats all the time.”