Author: Firdous Azim
The author presents the findings of her research to look at two dominant factors – religion and popular culture – that have affected women’s lives in Bangladesh in their search to give it meaning and form. This research stemmed from an exploratory paper five years ago, and sought to answer the questions: How are we to understand these ‘new’ women? What are the policy and programmatic interventions that are now required? How are they being articulated by women themselves? In short, what’s new in new women’s lives? In this paper presented to Pathways South Asia Hub Final Conference, 26-28 July 2011, first Azim provides a background on nation- and identity-building in post-colonial South Asia and then examines the position of women a hundred years on to see if there has been a ‘resolution’ of the nation- and identity- building issues, or what shape and form they have acquired since. The research found that religion, however it figured into women’s lives, was always empowering and was not seen as anti-modern or conservative. With regard to popular culture, they found that women viewers of TV were aware of social messages on TV and were critical of TV programming’s lack of diversity. She concludes with two photographs to illustrate how women have changed in Bangladesh.