What is women’s day? asks Aklima

Ferdous Ara

With two kettles settled on the stove, Aklima, 25, dished out small packets of biscuits and cakes.
Running a roadside tea stall in the capital’s Hatirjheel area, with little investment and education, was not easy at the beginning, said Aklima, whose husband abandoned her six years back.
‘Discrimination between the girl and boy child starts from the family and generates all other violence in society,’ said Aklima on the eve of International Women Day celebrated each year on March 8.
With a blank look on her face, she asked what women day was. ‘Women are born to be tortured and dominated, each and everywhere.’
Ranu, 25, a domestic help working in the capital’s Mirpur area said ‘until or unless men change their domineering attitude, independence of women will be impossible’.
She said ‘me and my husband earn the same, but there is no accountability of his expenditure, which I have to provide’.
Showing a scar mark on her forehead, Ranu said ‘If I could read more and refuse to marry at the age of 15, I think I would be financially solvent now’.
Mita Akhter, 19, works at a readymade garment factory in the capital’s Jurain area. ‘Women are deprived at home, at work place and in society,’ she observed.
She said ‘I have never heard of women day but heard about women’s rights on television. These are valueless words to people like us’.
Women want respect and support from family, from their better half and from in-laws, to be able to express their potential, said Mita.
She said there were twelve men and women in the sewing section, but for payment of overtime work, women get less than men for equal amount of work and hours.
‘The line man harasses me everyday either by using abusive words or physically assaulting me. But I have to accept it as I need this job to run a five-member family,’ Mita said.
A flower seller, Zahanara, left her house in Narsingdi with three daughters after her husband’s sudden death.
Women need to be more aware and they should raise their voice to protest at any sort of violence, she said.
In the beginning, people who bought flowers from me tried to cheat me, but now I have managed to learn everything. With my income, my three daughters are studying in schools as well, said Zahanara.
Office cleaner Shaheda, 40, works from morning till evening. With her Tk 5,000 salary, she supports a five-member family.
‘Not only women day, but even Eid day is not for poor people like us. I want to provide rice with egg to my four children, that is what I want as my right,’ she said.

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