Breaking new ground for transgender women in society, Tashnuva Anan Shishir, already renowned as a model and social worker, is set to become the first-ever transgender woman to work as a news presenter on a television channel in Bangladesh.
She will be seen presenting a regular news bulletin for the first time at the private satellite television channel Boishakhi Television on March 8, marking the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Sharing her feelings with UNB on Friday night, Shishir said she is overwhelmed by the opportunity. Television news presenters are taken very close to their hearts by Bangladeshis, often becoming trusted voices on the strength of regularly appearing on screen and relaying information held in high regard, i.e. the news. If the aim is to normalise the presence of 'trans' folk in society, few positions could be more potent.
"I cannot express how overwhelming this is, for myself and my community. Individuals from my community have been bullied and harassed for long, and only exposure like this can help create room for the development of our people in the society," Shishir said..
Sharing her recruitment process, she said, "The audition and selection process was as normal and usual as it has always been for other presenters. The entire process was rigorous, and I am grateful to Boishakhi TV for selecting me."
"With this kind of positive approach and exposure for individuals like me, I believe our society will thrive towards community sustainability and community development," she told UNB.
According to the authorities of Boishakhi Television, they came up with this maiden initiative to mark International Women's Day on 8 March, alongside the Golden Jubilee celebration of independence.
Alongside Shishir, they also appointed a transgender woman in the entertainment department, who will star in a drama named "Chapabaz" to be aired on the same day.
Tashnuva has recently earned her scholarships in two categories to pursue higher studies in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), Brac University, along with Ho Chi Minh Islam, another iconic transgender woman in the country.
Also read: Transgenders celebrate their recognition day
Today’s Tashnuva challenged the identity of Kamal Hossain Shishir, her old self - and eventually came out as a trans-woman during her twenties, alongside starting her solo journey with social works, dance and theatre. She has been an active member of the renowned theatre troupe BotTala, and recently she has been signed for two upcoming movies including Anonno Mamun’s film ‘Koshai’ as a detective officer, and Syed Shahriar’s cinema ‘Goal’ where she will be seen as a football coach.
Previously she worked as the Case Management Officer in the Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) from June 2020, worked as the project officer in Bandhu Social Welfare Society and also worked in other voluntary projects before for organizations including Sangat - A Feminist Network, Roopban, Oboyob, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC), and as an Executive Officer for the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, among other things.
Between 5-6 March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in coordination with the Moheshkhali Upazila administration and other governmental bodies is conducting a “Safety at Sea” training for 200 boatmen based on the island of Moheshkhali, with the support of the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).
The Cox’s Bazar – Moheshkhali sea route is one of the most important routes in this region, used frequently by development agencies and tourists alike. Similar to Cox's Bazar’s mainland, the island of Moheshkhali is extremely prone to natural hazards such as cyclones. According to the District Administration, nearly a third of the 300,000 people living on the island are at risk.
“Seeing as the Moheshkhali– Cox's Bazar sea route is highly impacted by cyclones, we are grateful for this initiative of sensitizing our boatmen on sea safety,” declared Ashequllah Rafiq, Member of Parliament for the Cox's Bazar-2 constituency. “IOM has been very active in Moheshkhali, continuously assisting host communities. We can only hope more will follow suit and address the urgent needs of this remote island.”
Since 2019, IOM has been working in the Moheshkhali Upazila and its five unions on building the capacity of Upazila and union Disaster Management Committee (DMC) members, training close to 1,500 Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) volunteers on basic DRR skills and basic firefighting, and 150 host community volunteers on rescue training.
Md Mahfuzur Rahman, Moheshkhali’s Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) has applauded the initiative during the project’s inauguration on March 5. “IOM’s continuous support to the Moheshkhali Upazila has not gone unnoticed. Through this assistance, our volunteers have benefited from several much-needed Disaster Risk Reduction capacity building activities and our community has received hygiene materials to support us in the fight against COVID-19 when we needed it the most.”
Along with the Upazila administration, the local Fire Service and Civil Defense, Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP), Bangladesh Inland Water Transportation Authority (BIWTA) and Coast Guard also actively participated in the training.
“Several hundred boatmen are actively working on the Cox’s Bazar–Moheshkhali sea route, but they haven’t had access to any proper training on safety at sea so far. It is imperative for them to have access to this type of life-saving capacity building activity,” explained Patrick Charignon, IOM Cox’s Bazar Transition and Recovery Programme Coordinator. “We hope that this initiative will not only save lives but also have added value for the island’s tourism sector.”
The training was organized in two batches, for 100 participants each day. Members of the Upazila and Union DMC in Moheshkhali also participated in the training. After completing their respective module, IOM provided the boatmen with sea safety equipment.
As part of the training, the boatmen learned new concepts on different types of topics, ranging from DRR, basic firefighting, initial rescue, cyclone early warning system and behavior change in communication, to proper use of sea safety equipment (life jacket, life buoy, radium sticker, power bank and torch light).
“Today, I had the chance to learn things that I feel will be of great importance for my daily job,” said Rajan, one of the boatmen, after completing the training. “From now on, I am confident that I will be able to keep myself safe, but also the passengers I carry during my journeys at sea.”
Bangladesh recorded six more Coronavirus related deaths and 635 new cases in the last 24 hours until Friday morning, registering a rise in daily infection rate.
Some 676 people have recovered from the virus infections during the period, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Covid-19 fatalities have climbed to 8,441 and total infections to 549,184 in the country.
The daily infection rate stood at 4.63 percent which was 3.87 percent on Thursday. The overall infection rate slightly fell to 13.33 percent, which was 13.36 percent on Wednesday.
But the mortality rate remained at 1.54 percent for the past few days, the DGHS said in a handout. So far, 501,144 patients (91.25 percent) have recovered from the Covid-19.
Authorities have so far tested 4,119,031 samples, including 13,710 in the past 24 hours.
Bangladesh reported its first cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18.
Vaccination drive in Bangladesh
Bangladesh launched its nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive on February 7.
By Wednesday, 3,460,159 people received the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The second dose has to be taken between 8 and 12 weeks of the first one.
The government is providing the vaccine for free. It signed an agreement with India's Serum Institute for 30 million doses of the vaccine.
The institute will provide five million doses every month between January and June.
The people, who are 40 or above, can register for getting vaccinated at www.surokkha.gov.bd as the on-spot registration system has been revoked.
Besides, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that the age limit for getting the coronavirus vaccine will be revised once more vaccine doses are available in the country.
Global Covid-19 Situation
The global Covid-19 caseload was fast approaching 116 million until early Friday.
The total case count and death toll now stand at 115,584,230 and 2,568,083 respectively, as per the latest data released by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) on Friday.
Also read: Global Covid cases near 116 million
The US remains the world's worst-hit country, with 28,824,499 Covid cases and 520,226 deaths to date, according to the university's tally. The US death toll crossed 500,000 million on February 22.
Brazil ranks second worldwide after the United States in terms of the number of deaths from Covid and third in terms of the number of confirmed cases, after the United States and India.
The country has registered 10,793,732 cases and 260,970 deaths so far, as per the data.
Meanwhile, India’s total caseload has reached 11,156,923 with 157,435 fatalities, according to the latest figures.
The popular Joy Bangla Concert will return in 2022 as the celebration is put on a halt this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic, said Bangabandhu’s grandson Radwan Mujib Siddiq.
Joy Bangla Concert, the biggest concert for youths in the country organised every year commemorating the March 7 speech of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Radwan, the trustee of the ruling Awami League’s Centre for Research and Information (CRI), urged everyone to keep eyes on the official Facebook page of Young Bangla, the youth secretariat of CRI, for virtual celebrations.
Also read: Registration for Joy Bangla concert opens
He made the call in a post shared on his Facebook wall.
The concert making its debut in 2015 became part of the country’s pop culture and a household name in the live music industry, stitching the wartime patriotic melodies of Bangladesh with the western-influenced rock genre.
Last year, hundreds of thousands of youths converging on the concert ground could not believe their eyes when a holographic presentation on Bangabandhu displayed him coming alive on the stage with the same towering figure, baritone voice, and index finger moving back and forth that shook the repressive regime 50 years ago.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana attended the 2020-concert as a surprise.
Also read: PM attends Joy Bangla Concert
Then the concert rolled on with the thrashing metals and sweeping rocks by the iconic and rising bands of Bangladesh such as F Minor, Minar, Avoid Rafa, Shunno, Vikings, Fuad & Friends, Lalon, Arbovirus, Chirkutt, Cryptic Fate, Nemesis, Arekta Rock Band, Adverb, and Sin.
Last year, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman appeared before thousands of people during the Joy Bangla Concert at Bangladesh Army Stadium virtually through holographic technology.
Back on March 7 in 1971, Bangabandhu delivered his speech, now recognised by the United Nations as a memory of the world, in front of a sea of people, setting the tone for the country’s independence that led to the Liberation War and the birth of Bangladesh.
Dhaka may no longer be the world's most polluted city, but the densely populated capital's air quality still remains 'unhealthy'.
On Friday, Dhaka occupied the fifth position in the list of world cities with the worst air quality. The capital's air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 171 around 11.40 am.
The city of Karachi in Pakistan occupied the first place, while the second and third spots were grabbed by Beijing of China and Lahore of Pakistan, respectively.
An AQI between 101 and 200 is considered 'unhealthy', particularly for sensitive groups. Similarly, an AQI between 201 and 300 is said to be 'poor', while a reading of 301 to 400 is considered 'hazardous', posing serious health risks to residents.
AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, is used by government agencies to inform people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them.
In Bangladesh, the overall AQI is based on five criteria pollutants – Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2, and Ozone (O3).
Bangladesh has a subtropical monsoon climate characterised by wide seasonal variations in rainfall, high temperatures and humidity. Generally, Dhaka’s air starts getting fresh when monsoon rains begin in mid-June. The air remains mostly acceptable from June to October.
Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide. Breathing polluted air has long been recognised as increasing a person’s chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections, and cancer, according to several studies.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year, largely as a result of increased mortality from stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections.
Over 80 percent living in urban areas, which monitor air pollution, are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low- and middle-income countries most at risk.