Giving a voice to Bangladeshi youth

Through partner organisation CCD Bangladesh, Active Citizen Masha Al-Airin Khan started a radio show to give a voice to Bangladeshi youth.

She gained skills in public speaking, planning and communication, self-confidence. 

In Bangladesh, a third of the population are under the age of 18. That’s over 50 million young people who will shape the Bangladeshi society of tomorrow. A group of young people from Rajshahi felt strongly about starting an initiative in their own community to allow young people’s voices to be heard.

Through Active Citizens training, ‘we identified malnutrition, dropping out of school, early marriage, eve-teasing [sexual harassment], drug addiction, suicide and the dangers of getting involved in student politics as areas that affect young people in Bangladesh’ says Masha. ‘It’s often the case that these issues aren’t discussed enough in the home or in the public sphere.’ They held meetings, discussed different ideas and decided to start a live community radio show where they could raise awareness on social issues affecting young people in the area.

Putting plans in place

With the positive support of the director of CCD Bangladesh and the chief co-ordinator of Radio Padma 99.2 FM, four Active Citizens participated in a weekly show called Youth Voice, broadcast every Friday at 18.00 for one hour, reaching 60–70,000 listeners.

Their first show was broadcast on 4 October 2013 with a facilitator and programme co-ordinator of Radio Padma hosting.

‘With every show, we are getting a huge response – that inspires us a lot more involved in community development.’

‘The first topic was eve-teasing,’ says Masha. ‘During the show we tried to educate people by explaining the issue of public sexual harassment of girls and women through examples.’ The second show covered suicide, where Active Citizen Mahmud spoke passionately about how the community can help vulnerable young people.

Ten radio shows have been broadcast so far and each time more Active Citizens are taking part. Through Youth Voice, they are creating a group of people who want to bring about change to their community, improve welfare and help others in difficulty.

The impact of the show

‘We received a number of calls after our first show on eve-teasing and an even bigger response after our second show. People are not only becoming aware of the problems around them but they want to work with us