Just three weeks ago the Nari Jibon center in Dhaka, Bangladesh was announced as one of five recipients of the first round of Rising Voices outreach grants. The grants, which provide small amounts of funding to groups and individuals who spread citizen media to communities not represented online, will in this case help Nari Jibon integrate blogging into its Bangla, English, and computer classes.
Nari Jibon was founded in Dhaka by Professor of Sociology Kathryn Ward in 2005. The project provides literacy courses and on-the-job training for young Bangladeshi women so that they can empower themselves and find jobs in sectors other than domestic labor and the garment industry.
Already, the young women at Nari Jibon are using the tools of citizen media to document the world around them. They have started two blogs: in English, Bangladesh from our View and in Bangla, Our Stories. You will find a review of Bangladeshi cinema, a portrait of the life of a rickshaw driver, and, most recently, the story of a lower-middle-class girl who is now a sex worker.
Understanding, Caring, and Staying Involved
Let me be frank. You cannot visit these blogs and expect the New Yorker or any other top-rate publication. This isn't media consumption, this is direct communication.
So why should we care? Why should we invest the time to understand more about their lives? to compare their lives with our own? to initiate dialogue?
I can only attempt an answer with another question: why should we care about anyone? Why do we communicate with anyone? Why do we follow the lives of celebrities and our neighbors? And why can't we choose to make young women in Dhaka our neighbors as well?
At Global Voices we do an amazing job building bridges between blogging communities that tend to form around a shared region or language or even political viewpoint. But we don't always offer the background information and context so that an outsider can understand and take part in those conversations. That was the goal of this podcast: to tell the story of Bangladesh, how it gained its independence, how the lives of women have changed over the past several decades, and how blogging can play an instrumental role in empowering the voices of Bangladeshi women. We also get to know the voices of those bloggers who keep us informed about Bangladesh here on Global Voices. They are:
- Rezwan Islam, Global Voices’ Bangladesh contributor
- Ahmad Tariq Karim, former Bangladesh ambassador to the US
- Shafiur Rahman, documentary filmmaker of Bostribolikara and blogger at Imperfect World
- Ferdouse Oneza, blogger at Adhunika
- Kathryn Ward, Founder of Nari Jibon
Mentioned links and relevant posts:
- Photo gallery of Nari Jibon's current students
- Photo gallery of Nari Jibon's cyber cafe
- Rezwan's review of Nari Jibon's outreach program
- Audio samples from musician Brian Walker (background music)
- Rezwan on the Concert for Bangladesh
- Documents related to Bangladesh and collected by Shafiur Rahman
- 5 minute clip of Shafiur Rahman's documentary Bostrobalikara: Garment Girls of Bangladesh
- Review of first ever Bangladeshi bloggers meetup in February, 2006
- “Eve teasing” on Wikipedia
- “Where Women Enjoy More Freedom, East or West?” by Ferdouse Oneza on Adhunika Blog
- Video montage of Adhunika's IT training program for women