December is Victory month. It is the month when we recall the sheer courage of the thousands upon thousands of Bangali men and women who risked their lives for an uncertain but worthy notion of an independent nation – one where they can live as free people.
But the reality is, only some of us get to live as free people, while the rest are still constrained by social and institutional barriers.
That group makes up half of our population: They are the women of Bangladesh.
Although thousands of women played a significant and invaluable role in our country’s liberation and independence, Bangladeshi women today are often treated like second-class citizens.
But, dispelling all erroneous notions regarding women’s abilities or intellect, a group of highly successful women professionals and activists spoke up in favour of equal opportunity at a discussion on Friday.
These women are leaders in their respective career fields and they believe that women today must also overcome their own, internal disempowering beliefs that they have been conditioned to believe due to centuries of entrenched social attitudes, norms, and practices -- and try to be the best they can be.
During Pakistani rule, all Bangalis experienced what it is like to be treated as an inferior, to be oppressed, humiliated, and even harassed. With victory came freedom from such treatment for most, but not for all.
Many women still experience harassment on a daily basis.
As unjust and painful as that period in our history was, it should instill some empathy and inspire compassion among Bangladeshi men to also show their support for women’s rights and equal opportunity.
So, in the spirit of freedom, let’s come together to promote victory for all Bangladeshis, not just any particular group.