Author Archive
Media Blackout: Why Is the World Not Acknowledging Shahbagh?

Media Blackout: Why Is the World Not Acknowledging Shahbagh?

When I was a little girl, I always wanted Bangladesh to be famous. I did not like that whenever people asked me where I was from I would have to explain, “Bangladesh, this tiny country on the East of India.” Why could people not just know where my Motherland was? At the age of 18...
The Female Factor: Bangladesh Protests Break Boundaries

The Female Factor: Bangladesh Protests Break Boundaries

It is over a week now that crowds refuse to die down in Shahbagh Square in the heart of Dhaka, Bangladesh. While most of the “western media” has either ignored the swelling numbers of ordinary Bangladeshis joining the movement, others have wrongly labeled it as a mass demand for capital punishment. This is perhaps the biggest misconception about...
India’s Tipping Point: Death of Rape Victim Sparks Global Outrage

India’s Tipping Point: Death of Rape Victim Sparks Global Outrage

The brutal gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old female medical student in India has prompted outrage and horror around the world. The physiotherapy student was tortured and raped by a group of six men on Dec. 16 armed with a metal bar on a private bus in New Delhi. She died from her injuries in a Singapore...
The Silence of a Laureate: Ethnic & Religious Tensions Rise in Burma

The Silence of a Laureate: Ethnic & Religious Tensions Rise in Burma

When I was growing up in Bangladesh, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi never ceased to amaze me. Burma is right next door to us geographically, but as a little girl all I understood about the military junta in Burma was primarily through pictures. I just could not wrap my head around what kind of threat...
Women Only: Saudi Arabia Further Segregates Society

Women Only: Saudi Arabia Further Segregates Society

The fight for Saudi women’s rights has been well-documented in the press, especially the high-profile protests women’s rights activists launched on the heels of the Arab Spring in hopes to win the right to drive in the Kingdom, the only place in the world where women are legally not permitted to get behind the wheel. This observation...
International AIDS 2012 Conference Wrap-Up: The Good & The Bad

International AIDS 2012 Conference Wrap-Up: The Good & The Bad

The historic XIX International AIDS Conference ended last Friday, but just how historic were the results it managed to achieve? As far as funding goes, the US, whose funding was actually decreasing, made two funding announcements. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced over $150 million in new US initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS, adding an additional $80 million...
$5 Million to Address Sexual Violence Against Children–A Drop in PEPFAR’s Bucket?

$5 Million to Address Sexual Violence Against Children–A Drop in PEPFAR’s Bucket?

As the XIX International AIDS Conference draws to a close tomorrow, the United State’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has announced a $5 million grant for the Together for Girls(TFG) partnership–designed to address violence against girls and boys. U.S. Global AIDS coordinator Eric Goosby says funds will go to “support countries’ responses to...
Beyond the Ban: The Importance of AIDS 2012 Being Held in the US

Beyond the Ban: The Importance of AIDS 2012 Being Held in the US

When I was a little girl growing up in Bangladesh, my sisters and I were obsessed with England’s Princess Diana. We used to spend hours studying any pictures of her we could get our hands on, try to get our hair cut like hers, and attempt to get our local tailor to make us dresses...
Join the AIDS 2012 conference free in DC or online!

Join the AIDS 2012 conference free in DC or online!

Join thousands of activists in Washington, DC or online this week for the 2012 International AIDS Conference! You can find information about in person registration here, but there is also a parallel and FREE “Global Village,” where advocates and activists from around the world will gather, have booths, hold workshops, and share ideas. Some workshops...
Fortnight of Failure? Catholic Bishops Fail to Rally Support

Fortnight of Failure? Catholic Bishops Fail to Rally Support

Since the end of last month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have been busy rallying up their base to come out and defend their “religious liberty.” A series of events, spanning over two weeks and dubbed the ‘Fortnight of Freedom,” were planned and publicized to parishes and diocese across the US in an attempt to...
Women’s Rights Key To Effective Global AIDS Response

Women’s Rights Key To Effective Global AIDS Response

A new report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, an independent body of former world leaders and top legal, human rights and HIV experts, released on the eve of the London Summit, has labeled the global response to the AIDS epidemic as “stifled.” The ground-breaking account, “HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights...

Egypt’s Veiled First Lady: Clues To Where Women Fit Into New Egypt?

Everybody wants to know where women fit into the new Egypt. After an electrifying revolution, leading to the end of President Hosni Mubarak‘s three decade long dictatorship, the “women question” awaited the country’s first democratically elected leadership. The world watched as Egyptian women, young and old, Christian and Muslim, fought alongside their brothers, slept next to them...

The Best Place To Be a Woman: A Conversation With Monique Villa

Canada is the best place to be a woman, and India is the worst according to a new poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation. The legal news service launched a global poll of experts this week ranking countries for women in the G20, putting the US, which “polarised opinion due to issues surrounding reproductive rights and affordable healthcare,” in sixth place. Access to healthcare...

1971 Rapes: Bangladesh Cannot Hide History

The post- Liberation War generation of Bangladesh know stories from 1971 all too well. Our families are framed and bound by the history of this war. What Bangladeshi family has not been touched by the passion, famine, murders and blood that gave birth to a new nation as it seceded from Pakistan? Bangladesh was one...
Mother’s Day: A Matter of Life & Death

Mother’s Day: A Matter of Life & Death

As a Bangladeshi woman, I could not have felt more fortunate when I decided to give birth in America. It was a natural choice for my American husband and I. After almost a decade working to ensure US foreign policy protects women’s reproductive health and rights, I was well-aware that every year, approximately 529,000 women and girls...
What Does Seven Billion Mean for Women?

What Does Seven Billion Mean for Women?

The UN has projected that the world’s population will reach 7 billion today, a scary milestone amidst increasing global political and economic instability. More people will only place increased pressure on our environment, on the world’s habitats, forests, and resources such as water. But how does investing in women’s rights tie into slowing the world’s...
A Beating for a Phone: Women Struggle to Access Mobile Technology

A Beating for a Phone: Women Struggle to Access Mobile Technology

People are always shocked to learn how widespread and easily available mobile technology is in “developing nations” like Bangladesh, Kenya, and Afghanistan. When my husband visited my city of birth, Dhaka, last year he could not believe how many people had cell phones in a country where more than half of the population cannot access...
US Assistance to Global Health Programs: The Battle Continues

US Assistance to Global Health Programs: The Battle Continues

The recent hostile budget process targeted women’s health programs globally as much as it did domestically. International family planning was targeted for a 40% cut and UNFPA funding eliminated in the House majority proposals alongside a total elimination of Title X and Planned Parenthood funding. The final amount approved for FY 2011 by Congress for...
Virginity Tests: Time to Let Gender Out of Revolution's Closet

Virginity Tests: Time to Let Gender Out of Revolution’s Closet

There is no doubt that the recent revolution in Egypt got the wheels of the Arab Spring rolling. But just as quickly as women flooded the corners of Tahrir Square and the streets of Cairo in the hopes of a democratic Egypt, their voices were sidelined. This is not uncommon. Even in conservative countries, we...
Starting the Engine: Saudi Women Drive for Their Rights

Starting the Engine: Saudi Women Drive for Their Rights

The spirit of the Arab Spring broke the steel gates of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today as one by one Saudi women started their engines, defying the country’s notorious ban on women driving, the only place  in the world where women are not permitted to drive. Today’s protest is the culmination of an online...