Women on the move
Samia Afroz RAHIM and Firdous AZIM
One of the most striking things in Dhaka city today is the presence of a large number of women in public places. Even in the 1980s the streets and square of Dhaka seemed to be under the exclusive occupation of men. The Pathway of Women’s Empowerment Research Programme set about to record contemporary images of women and to bring to public attention the changing position of women in our national life. Hence we called for a competition among amateur photographers to make a photo-documentary of our changing cityscape. After a short training, this group of mainly young and surprisingly male, photographers went out with their cameras and came up with some splendid and evocative photographs. We chose 55 of these photographs to mount an exhibition that toured the country. At every location, group discussions were held with students, garment factory workers and journalists. These photos elicited a number of interesting observations, such as comments on the wide variety of jobs that women do and how men and women walk the streets together in equal strides. It also generated discussion on women’s position, need to work and expressed the demand for more such displays and such discussions. The exhibitions helped to counter the image of a conservative, male-dominated society in which women are subordinate and largely invisible. In a modest way, this exhibition did make an impact in the refashioning of women’s images.
Firdous Azimis a Professor of English at BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her research interests include postcolonial and feminist literary theory. She is a Lead Researcher in the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Research Programme, South Asia, based in BRAC University.
Samia Afroz Rahim is a researcher with the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Research Programme, South Asia, based in BRAC University. She is also the Communications Officer for the Programme.