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A worthy goal

  • Published at 12:42 pm May 19th, 2018
Women Football
Photo: MD MANIK

It is the so-called social norms that determine to what extent a girl can dream, what she should desire and what her limits are.

In Bangladesh, women’s football has been coming up, predominantly with the success of our national girls’ team. Muslim women have been occupied in sports since Islam's beginning in the early 7th century and Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) races with his wife Aisha. Modern Muslim female athletes have accomplished success in a variety of sports, including volleyball, tennis, association football, fencing, and basketball. In the 2016 Olympics, fourteen Muslim women won medals, taking part in a wide array of sports. However, the fact is that Muslim women are underrepresented in athletic arenas, from school and amateur sports to international competitions. Causes may be cultural or familial pressures, the lack of suitable facilities and programs, and religious restrictions. Muslim women have seen sports as a tool for empowerment, working towards health and wellbeing, women's rights, and education.

Recently, there was a Women's Football Tournament in Bangladesh, organized at the Nagaswari College ground in Kurigram on March 8, 2018 with the participation of Romana Sporting Club. And there was also a protest and rally by the leaders of the Bangladesh Islamic Movement against the tournament. The protesters gave a memorandum to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer demanding to stop the tournament. Joint General Secretary of the Islamic Workers Movement GMM Ansar Ali Roy, Upazila President Maulana Abdus Shafi, Secretary Maulana Rafiqul Islam and others spoke at the rally.

If we look around, we see that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has hosted some of the most important association football tournaments. A number of Muslim female footballers have been prominent players for various UEFA national teams in Western Europe. These include Fatmire Alushi (née Bajramaj), who was a world champion with Germany at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China and a two-time winner of the UEFA European Women's Championship (2009, 2013), and French national team player Jessica Houara-d'Hommeaux.

We should not allow the misogynistic mentality of our society to stop women from accomplishing their dreams. It is the so-called social norms that determine to what extent a girl can dream, what she should desire and what her limits are. 

When will we understand that conventional family values, ethics and moral principles are not meant to be taught to a girl only to fend off a girl's aspirations in life? Rather, the girl should be taught to face the challenges in her path by developing her self-belief. Every woman has her own story of struggle. To make a woman capable of fighting against this hostile environment, it is her family who can make her see the opportunities of self-empowerment. Again, it is her family that should teach her that she has to earn the respect, honour and freedom to pursue her life, aspirations and career.

We must condemn this society that gives these people the right to demand the stopping of women's activities in the name of Islam. Islam is not a game to play; it is a religion of peace, equity and justice.

Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed is Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and a Research Assistant at Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs