I started my journey with gender based violence prevention and sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy since 2006 as a young advocate. For my passionate advocacy in preventing child marriage and gender based violence against women and children, I was nominated as one of the 100 global young leaders by Women Deliver in 2013. Further, for my advocacy on SRHR of young and adolescents, I was appointed as the Bangladesh Country Coordinator for International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP). In 2015 at the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) meeting, I raised the issue of opening a 'youth working group', and currently I am leading that working group as Youth Chair. Besides, I was the Co-Chair of the Advocacy and Accountability sub-committee of ICFP 2015/2016.
Being a law student my concern was mostly about human rights and gender issues of youth, and I explored that my law background can support advocacy regarding access to contraceptives of young men and women in Bangladesh and beyond. I understand legal knowledge is a strong support in working on policies that affect young people's sexual and reproductive health and rights. I realized family planning is not all about contraceptives, but about rights of people over taboos and stigmas.
Family planning is typically understood in my environment as all about use of contraception and commodities, and an issue only to be handled by health professionals. I tried to transform this typical understanding into the learning for youths 'how to plan life' in the light of SRHR, and integration of basic human rights including plan for educating girls to prevent child marriage. I have been protecting hundreds of girls from child marriage through training up youth groups in Bangladesh.
In typical Bangladeshi society young people especially young women face taboos and stigmas around access to contraceptives, and hygiene commodities. Young men face huge shame when they need a packet of condoms that can be purchased from nearby stores. Unmarried couples face stigma, and married women must wait for their husbands to bring contraceptives home, while it remains unimportant for males to remember in most cases ! So I fight taboos that stop young people plan families and their lives.
Apart from my own NGO, I work with International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP), Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, a member of Expert Advisory Community of FP2020, and Inroads global network. I believe by next 5 years my continuous advocacy will create a 'common space' for young people in conservative societies in Bangladesh to speak out for their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gain knowledge to fight stigmas and take Family Planning decisions on their own.