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Virtual Exhibition | 10 Quijotas of Bangladesh

Organised by Embassy of Spain in Dhaka and Bengal Foundation



Quijotas en Bangladesh

Cervantes was a distinguished Spanish writer best known for his novel 'Don Quixote'–regarded amongst the most notable works of fiction ever written. Don Quixote is depicted as a noble character in the story, in search of truth and adventure. The character behaved irrationally at times but was also considered wise and honourable; he spoke words of truth and was defined by his noble values and ideals. On the occasion of the 400th death anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes, we would like to remember the author by paying tribute to real life heroes – female Quijotas – in Bangladesh.

Embassy of Spain in Bangladesh

 


 

Amena Begum

Amena Begum claims to be a simple 'housewife', echoing countless women in Bangladesh. But the title of 'housewife', more frequently than not, has a greater meaning than just a 'stay at home' wife. Begum, a mother of three, is responsible for managing a herd of more than 20 cattle and is the primary breadwinner for her family. From modest beginnings, she now owns a house near Dhaka and sends her children to school using the income she earns from her cattle herd.

Amena Begum



Kohinoor Yeasmin

Kohinoor Yeasmin

Upon completion of her education in 1994, Kohinoor Yeasmin began working with Father Klaus Beurle at Tarango, an NGO based in Bangladesh. A German priest, Father Klaus Beurle first came to Bangladesh after the Liberation War, to assist in relief work in the northern areas of the country. He was deeply touched by the plight of the local women and looked for ways to help them. Father Beurle discovered that the local women crafted and sold simple shopping bags to earn a living. He began taking these bags back to Germany to be sold at local schools and churches. This was the beginning of Tarango.

Yeasmin took charge of Tarango as its Chief Executive officer in 2000. Today, after more than a decade since its inception, Tarango employs over 12,000 women in different areas of Bangladesh and produces various crafts items. The NGO works with some of the most marginalised women, providing them the opportunity to develop their skills through training and education on entrepreneurship, village savings, loans associations, micro-credit, income generation, and awareness of gender and human rights within communities, amongst others.



Syeda Rizwana Hasan

Syeda Rizwana Hasan has been a front runner in increasing public awareness on the dire effects of the practice of shipbreaking in Bangladesh, alongside being a leading voice for the environment. She spearheaded a legal battle that brought forth more government regulation along with increased awareness of the shipbreaking industry. Today, Hasan manages six offices and is one of the leading young lawyers enrolled with the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. She is also the executive director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a public interest law firm. Hasan was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2009 as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012 for her 'uncompromising courage and impassioned leadership in a campaign of judicial activism in Bangladesh that affirms the people's right to a good environment as nothing less than their right to dignity and life.'

Syeda Rizwana Hasan



Krishna Rani Sarker

Krishna Rani Sarker

The struggle of becoming a professional athlete requires immense dedication and skill, and it is especially true for a demanding sport such as football. In a country where society constantly discourages women from pursuing sports, Krishna Rani Sarker fought her way up to the captainship of the Under-17 Bangladesh National Women's Football Team against all odds. Sarker was selected for the Bangladesh women's team for the Asian Football Confederation Women's Championship qualification matches in 2014. She and her teammates have faced intricate challenges and earned the title of 'Regional Champions' at the Asian Football Confederation Under-14 Girls' Regional Championship in 2015.



Nazma Akter

Garments workers often depend on their job as a lifeline and are frequently forced to endure difficult conditions. But when working and safety conditions go overlooked, it could potentially have devastating consequences. Nazma Akter is the President of the United Garments Workers Federation and has been sincerely fighting for the rights of women workers for the past 27 years, across Dhaka and Chittagong. Akter strives to create awareness amongst workers about labour rights, occupational safety, personal health and hygiene.

Nazma Akter



Nishat Majumder

Nishat Majumder

An incredible multi-tasker Nishat Majumder possess a degree in accounting, works in a government job and is a home-maker. In April of 2012, at the age of 31, she embarked on an adventure that would forever mark her as the first Bangladeshi woman to climb the Mount Everest. She ascended the highest peak in world at 9:39 am on May 19, 2012.



Parvin Nasima Nahar Putul

Immense dedication and skill is expected of any athlete to reach professional levels, but the path is often much steeper for women. Bangladeshi women, more often than not, are discouraged to pursue sports. Breaking away from such social stigmas, Parvin Nasima Nahar Putul became one of the first generation of female athletes in the country. She is a former manager of the Bangladesh Women's National Cricket Team, and today Putul has dedicated herself to scout and help women achieve their dreams of becoming female athletes.

Parvin Nasima Nahar Putul



Shahana Afroz

Shahana Afroz

Shahana Afroz is considered to be a pioneer in the field of ultrasound and nuclear medicine in Bangladesh. She graduated from Dhaka Medical College in 1979, and left for India to complete her Master's Degree in Nuclear Medicine. Afroz returned to Bangladesh in 1986 and earned her PhD from the University of Dhaka in 2003. She has been a medical practitioner for over two decades and through her work, has helped broaden the understanding of nulcear medicine in the country.



Syeda Khanam

Syeda Khanam is the first female photojournalist in Bangladesh. Her interest in photography grew exponentially at an early age after receiving a Rolleicord camera from her sister. Despite not having any formal training in photography, Khanam began working for the newspaper 'Begum' in 1956. Her career choice was a difficult path for a woman at the time, but she struggled forward and has thrived in several national newspapers since then. Khanam covered many important aspects of the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, worked with the Oscar winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and has also captured portraits of many distinguished personalities including Queen Elizabeth, Neil Armstrong, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, amongst others. She received an award at the All Pakistan Photo Contest in 1960 and was honoured with the UNESCO Award for Photography in 1985.

Syeda Khanam



Tayeba Begum Lipi

Tayeba Begum Lipi

Tayeba Begum Lipi is a Bangladeshi artist and the co-founder of Britto Arts Trust. Essentially a multimedia artist, she is known to articulate themes of female marginality. Her sculptural works re-create everyday objects including beds, bathtubs, strollers, wheelchairs, dressing tables, and women's undergarments.

She is known to use unusual materials, such as safety pins and razor blades, in her work. This provocative choice of materials figuratively represents domestic violence in Bangladesh, as well as referencing tools used in childbirth in the more underdeveloped parts of the country. Receiving the Grand Prize at the Asian Art Biennale in Dhaka in 2004, Lipi first sprang to global attention at the Venice Biennale in 2011 with her sculpture of a bra made from stainless steel razor-blades. In 2002 Lipi co-founded the Britto Arts Trust, Bangladesh's first artist-run alternative arts platform dedicated to organising exhibitions, encouraging intercultural dialogue and providing residencies for local artists.