“Every feminist is a good person. If you want to be a feminist, you need to become a good human being first.” – Rayhan, 20, a first-year student of Government Titumir College.
Omar Faruque Rayhan (20), popularly know as Rayhan lives with his family of 6 at Porabosti, a slum in Dhaka. While growing up, Rayhan witnessed and learned the culture of Porabosti, a society where people believe in religious and social taboos, and was not sensitised about gender equality. Rayhan socialised with traditional practices throughout his life and this is how he has shaped his belief and mindset. By engaging with the various NGOs over the last few years Rayhan felt that there was something wrong with his belief. He then started to question himself. The self-reflection led him to engage as an active young volunteer with NDBUS- a partner organisation of ActionAid Bangladesh.
In October 2017, NDBUS nominated Rayhan together with other young people in his community to Global Platform Bangladesh to participate in a one-week training on feminism, advocacy and accountability. The training opened his mind, further, to question the traditional norms and stereotypes.
After completing the training, Rayhan self-initiated a series of campaigns and awareness raising events in his locality on feminism, women’s rights and gender equality. Through the support of NDBUS under the Young Feminist Future Project, Rayhan and other volunteers then formed a youth group named Jubo Jagoron Dol and he was elected as the president of the group. But the path was not smooth. He was mocked, humiliated and teased along his way, however, these could not stop him. Rayhan was confident with his passions and he kept continuing with his mission with the support of Young Feminist Network, Global Platform Bangladesh (GPB) and NDBUS would back him and his group in their initiatives. Rayhan had to fight in his family for continuing study of his sister.
Rayhan proudly calls himself a feminist and promises to do his best to fight for the rights of women and girls. He continued to fight for gender equality, and is confident that change will happen soon in his community. Rayhan also realised that he needs more feminists activists to transform the society.