Two Bangladeshi women are named in the list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2020 revealed by the BBC.
Rina Akter, a former sex worker, and Rima Sultana Rimu, a teacher, are the two Bangladeshi women.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rina and her team of helpers have served around 400 meals a week – including rice, vegetables, eggs and meat – to sex workers in Dhaka who found themselves without clients, and struggled to feed themselves.
“People see our profession as demeaning, but we do it to buy food. I am trying to make sure women in this profession are not left hungry, and their children will not have to do this work,” the BBC quoted her as saying.
Rima is a member of Young Women Leaders for Peace in Cox’s Bazar.
This programme, part of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, aims to empower young women from conflict-affected countries to be leaders and agents of peace.
Rima responded to the Rohingya refugee crisis in her community by advocating for gender-responsive humanitarian action. She organises gender-sensitive, age-appropriate literacy and numeracy classes for Rohingya refugees, and for women and girls in the community who lack access to education.
She also uses radio broadcasts and theatre performance to raise awareness of UN Security Council resolutions, relating especially to women, peace and security, in her community.
“I am determined to bring gender equality to Bangladesh. I believe in the power of women and girls to fight for our rights. We will succeed,” she said.
This year 100 Women is highlighting those who are leading change and making a difference during these turbulent times.
The list includes Sanna Marin, who leads Finland’s all-female coalition government, Michelle Yeoh, star of the new Avatar and Marvel films and Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine, the BBC reported Monday.
And in an extraordinary year – when countless women around the world have made sacrifices to help others – one name on the 100 Women list has been left blank as a tribute.
How were the 100 Women chosen?
The BBC’s 100 Women team drew up a shortlist based on names gathered by them and suggested by the BBC’s network of World Service languages teams.
BBC was looking for candidates who had made headlines or influenced important stories over the past 12 months, as well as those who have inspiring stories to tell, achieved something significant or influenced their societies in ways that wouldn’t necessarily make the news.
The pool of names was then assessed against this year’s theme – women who led change – and measured for regional representation and due impartiality, before the final names were chosen.
BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year.
They make documentaries, features and interviews about their lives, giving more space for stories that put women at the centre.