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Unlearning gender

  • Published at 05:32 pm December 5th, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:01 am December 11th, 2017
This year, ' Bonhishikha – unlearn gender', an organisation that believes that gender stereotypes and roles constrain the potentials of individuals by holding them back, is staging the play It's a She Thing again, based on the experiences of women in urban Bangladesh. This week, we sat with Syeda Samara Mortada, coordinator of Bonhishikha, to talk about the issues they'll be covering and their future plans.

What are some of the issues that you will focus on in this year's play? What is going to be different this year?

We will be doing the same show as last year, but for a different crowd. We will be conducting the show at the American Club because of security issues, so our audience this year will mostly be expatriates and the members of the club mostly. We started off with Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologue, and then we moved onto the plays by collecting real life stories from people around us, mostly focusing on the urban crowd. Last year, we came up with a Bangla production of stories called Nari Nokkhotro. Basically, the organisation is working towards gender equality and also provides space for rebukes and discussions related to these and other issues such as gendered violence, domestic violence and women's rights. We want everyone to take stands against gender violence, be it men, women or children, and come together to have discussions regarding this. We also want to uphold women's issues and want people, especially men, to take part in these discussions.

Are you focusing on women from diverse backgrounds, or just women from one section of society?

We will be developing stories focusing on minorities and workers from next year. Although this year, we have one story which will focus on garment workers. We have eight to ten stories which will mostly focus on urban women – their stories and the difficulties faced by them.

Was this year's play influenced by the #metoo movement, which happened recently?

We have tried to find influences after the #metoo movement. So there were men who were saying “We don't belong to that group of men who are perpetrators,” and because of this, we wanted to highlight these men who are part of society. We know them and grew up with these men, and we want them to finally speak up for women and say that “Yes, women are not as privileged as we are, we're not violated as often as women are, and we accept it.” So we have tried to have discussions around that, and covered audio/video content regarding the #metoo movement.

If you were to organise the same kind of play for people living in rural areas, how would you like to approach them?

As rural issues are completely different from urban issues, I think it would have to be completely different. To start with, we would have to concentrate on women living in the rural areas, as we portray real life stories in a way that is presentable and accepted by the people. We would have to research the difficulties faced by these rural women in the country. What are your plans for next year? Hopefully, if everything goes well, we would like to expand and take these shows to cities like Sylhet and Chittagong, and emphasise on the problems in those cities.

Organisers and performers

Tasaffy Hossain (Founder) Syeda Samara Mortada (Coordinator and Performer) Rumana Habib (Director) Mayeesha Azhar (Coordinator and Performer) Samina Yasmin (Performer) Roshni Kapoor (Performer) Namira Hossain (Performer) Nayela Akter (Performer) chenoa chowdhury (Performer) Anika Karim (Performer)