January 17, 2021, 3:38 pm

Staff Correspondent

2020-11-24 14:06:25 BdST

Champions in turbulent timesBBC’s 100 Women list captures 2 BD women

Two women from Bangladesh have made it to the BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2020.

Rina Akter, a former sex worker & Rima Sultana Rimu, a member of Young Women Leaders for Peace in Cox’s Bazar

Rima Sultana Rimu, a member of Young Women Leaders for Peace in Cox’s Bazar, and Rina Akter, a former sex worker, have found their names among those who “are leading change and making a difference during these turbulent times”.

An 82-year-old Indian woman named Bilkis Banu is one of them as she was part of a group of women who peacefully protested against a controversial citizenship law and became the face of a long-running protest in New Delhi.

Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine, is also in the list.

The organisation Rima Sultana, a Cox’s Bazar school teacher, represents is part of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, that aims to empower young women from conflict-affected countries to be leaders and agents of peace, according to the report.

“Rima responded to the Rohingya refugee crisis in her community by advocating for gender-responsive humanitarian action. She organises gender-sensitive, age-appropriate literacy and numeracy classes for Rohingya refugees, and for women and girls in the community who lack access to education. Rima also uses radio broadcasts and theatre performance to raises awareness of UN Security Council resolutions, relating especially to women, peace and security, in her community,” The BBC writes in the citation.

She was quoted to have said: “I am determined to bring gender equality to Bangladesh. I believe in the power of women and girls to fight for our rights. We will succeed.”

As for the other woman from Bangladesh, Rina Aktter, The BBC writes: “When Rina was only eight years old, she was sold to a brothel by a relative. She grew up in the brothel, and later became involved in sex work. Now, she tries to help other sex workers to improve their lives.”

“During the pandemic, Rina and her team of helpers have served around 400 meals a week - including rice, vegetables, eggs and meat - to sex workers in Dhaka who have found themselves without clients, and are thus struggling to feed themselves.”

The BBC has quoted Rina as saying “People see our profession as demeaning, but we do it to buy food. I am trying to make sure women in this profession are not left hungry, and their children will not have to do this work.”

Sanna Marin, who leads Finland's all-female coalition government, and Michelle Yeoh, star of the new Avatar and Marvel films have also made it to this year’s BBC list.

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