Climate change is playing itself out in more ways than just hotter summers. Bangladesh has been experiencing it first-hand. For this country, millions of people coming together during the global #climatestrike holds incredible value.
Welcome to the Global South of today. Entrepreneurship is on the rise. Innovation is blossoming. Opportunities are endless if we can harness the power of youth. This November, we are bringing young activists together with policymakers, social entrepreneurs, and development practitioners for the 6th Annual Frugal Innovation Forum(FIF) - rethinking and co-creating solutions that scale opportunities for youth.
Worldwide, 103 million youth cannot read - 60% of whom are girls. The International Finance Facility for Education (IFFED) is a groundbreaking plan to tackle this crisis. When up and running, it will help millions of children go to school, and prepare millions of young people to enter the global workforce.
The radio is on full blast as we drive down the winding roads of north-eastern Bangladesh. News, music, discussions. As we come closer to Moulvibazar city, the young people we are travelling with turn up the volume even more. The dialect changes. Everything is suddenly in their local tongue - Sylheti.
For young girls hailing from disadvantaged communities, activities such as competitive sports not only encourage them to discuss sensitive health issues but also empower them to take up leadership roles in their societies. For women, participating in team sports also enables a sense of unity that helps them be seen as champions within their communities.
Engaging in sports intrinsically makes you more mindful about your body. You may start speculating how to be healthier – a good entry point for inquiring about your general well-being. For adolescent girls in marginalised communities, these questions can lead to discussions about more sensitive topics, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
In Bangladesh, far too many students do not get the chance to go to college. In a country where 30 per cent of the population are young (10-24 years), it remains evident that much of the potential remain untapped, and too many young voices go unheard. Medhabikash, a scholarship programme that funds meritorious and underprivileged students, offers a second chance at learning- the kind that transcends social and economic boundaries.
Imagine you have just received the result of your secondary school certificate exam (equivalent to GCSE O’Levels). Congratulations! You have been awarded the highest grades: GPA 5, securing more than 80 per cent in all the subjects. You and your whole family celebrate while you start planning to go to a top college. Future is all set! But what if you are an indigenous girl in a poor family of five like Laome? Or what if your father is unemployed and your mother takes care of you and your three siblings on her own like Habib’s family? The future does not look that bright now – it looks quite bleak.
Maria Ndagire is 17 years old. Her parents died when she was only four years old. “My uncle had to take care of us after our parents died, but it was not easy. He already had his own children to care for and did not earn that much money.” Ndagire almost gave up on life when the only brother she had, left home one day never to return again. She was able to go to school, only because the head teacher there was her aunt. But her losses did not make her lose focus.