"I Belong" a conference and exhibition on feminism ties together a collaboration between DW Akademie and Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, fostering exchange amongst students of journalism and feminists from diverse professions, furthering the discourse on contemporary societal questions of feminists in Bangladesh.
The event series took place in a hybrid format with various on-site and online events, from 6 through 13 March 2022, reads a press release.
What is the role played by women in religion and its portrayal in the media? Who belong to a minority in the country or society that we are living in? How do we deal with this imposed challenge on an interpersonal level? What role does gender play in religious contexts and what does it means on a societal level?
From a feminist standpoint, an online panel approached these questions, focusing on the voices of experts that by choice or default belong or are perceived to belong to a certain religion, reads the release.
Sudeshna Biswas in conversation with Muktasree Chakma Sathi, Huda Jawad and Farah Naqvi was in the pursuit to understand their personal perspectives of how they see themselves in this context, but also how they think they are perceived by the public.
As the battle lines have shifted in the last six to seven years, there has been a conscious attempt globally to demonize the religious minority. With religion and patriarchy going hand in hand, organised power structures have propelled the mainstream media to closet individuals to particular identities.
In the realm of this patriarchal narrative, embedded is cultural racism with religious minorities being demonized, labeled, and lynched. The way in which the rise of Islamophobia in the face of white supremacy harbors a certain disdain towards Muslim women, similarly the secular assumption that women of faith under the perception of organized religion that is seen to be a patriarchal construct purports the narrow mindset that all women of faith are puppets and that they have no agency, reads the statement.
When the Hijab is not seen as a marker of emancipation, infantilizing women's choices like that is equally what feeds into media narrative. As does boxing an individual into their genders and religious identities.
"That is why identity conversations are vital in our world and respective societies because structural identities carry enormous power unless we are willing to engage with the structures of power determined entirely around who you are and where you come from, the communities you belong to", reads the release.
"The holder of privilege and power are equally important for us to shift that balance and that means equal access to all the fruits of democracy and the nation and equal opportunity to construct images. The power of the media to determine whose image is seen to be regressive, which community is backwards needs to be acknowledged", it adds.
And that is why we must work towards urging the media to reflect on our stories and our own realities, to cultivate a network of support with feminist journalists to cover issues relevant to women and showcase the lived reality of women away from the narrative of women being saved from a hyper masculine narrative, reads the statement.
It adds, "We must think about how we can make the media more feminists and inclusive in all forms? We want change as women, regardless of what faith they belong to. Once all our chains are free, we are truly liberated. We need to stop jumping into saving women unless they are asking to be saved. There is a power in representation so that is a space that needs to be fought for to be really embraced."
The panel discussion is being broadcasted on Goethe-Institut Bangladesh's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O57FM0Lpv68&t=10s&ab_channel=Goethe-InstitutBangladesh