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Supporting your daughter’s dream

This Changemaker Photo Story is produced in close cooperation with Red Orange Media & Communications Bangladesh. Photographers: Sabuj Miah and Md. Nafiul Hasan

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Tags: Hello i am

Meet Ayub Hossein, a religious leader in a conservative village, who struggles to keep his daughter in school.

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I will educate my daughter, I will support her in fulfilling her dreams, no matter what.

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Ayub Hossain is one of a kind in his village. Patriarchy and traditional gender roles are supported by male and female members of the community. Fathers usually choose marriage over education for their daughters. Religious leaders in most cases promote traditions and the ruling social norms and gender roles. Ayub defied all these and chose to support his daughter’s dream.

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Ayub is a father of two, respected in his village as an elder and a pious man. He lives a quiet life with his wife and two children.

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Tanzina is busy completing her higher education. She dreams of completing her study to support her family. Tanzina also teaches other children in the neighbourhood. But in the eyes of her community she is an economic burden to her father.

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I want to study more, to earn my own bread and help my family in future.
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Neighbours put a lot of pressure on Ayub and his family. They tell Ayub to do what everybody else does, to follow the customs of his parents and elders, to respect tradition and marry Tanzina off. That will provide her a good life with her husband.

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But Ayub stands firm. He knows that it will be difficult to find a husband for his daughter when she gets older, in particular after she turns 18.

It’s a matter of time only, for my daughter to achieve her goals. I won’t let any interruption happen such as marriage on her way to become self- dependent.
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Ayub’s determination seemed to stop the pressure from his neighbours. But not for long. When they saw his resolve in having his daughter educated, they came up with a new solution. Why not marry her off and let her continue school after her wedding?

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Decisions regarding a girl’s education and marriage are not made by the girls or the parents alone; these decisions are made jointly, and are influenced by social norms in the community. Women and girls often have less access to education, because of traditional gender roles, according to research by UNICEF.

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Ayub is a respected religious leader in the community. People listen to him and follow his steps. Going against tradition and customs, defying deeply rooted gender norms, is a huge task for Ayub. His social standing was diminished when he decided to keep Tanzina in school and not marry her off.

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Keeping Tanzina in school became even more difficult when she got harassed by boys in the street. Most people consider marriage a useful way to keep girls secured, and as solution for harassment as well.

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Ayub has not given up. His daughter will complete her education and get married afterwards. Meanwhile Ayub found the Hello, I Am programme working in support of girls on issues like child marriage in his village. He found the programme to be really effective and timely. So he decided to join Hello, I Am.

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And now he also tells others to educate their daughters. He convinces them to let their daughters go to school. To let them leave the house and do other work apart from house work too.

If you have a daughter, support her dreams.

Hello, I Am was a four-year programme working toward a supportive social environment in which young people in Bangladesh, especially adolescent girls and young women, can make informed choices about and enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights. It aims to realize a society in which girls and boys are equal, where girls and women have the same rights and chances as boys and men. The programme is led by Rutgers and implemented in collaboration with PSTC, RHSTEP, DSK and BBC Media Action Bangladesh.

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