Sunday, November 22, 2009

Good things happening in Bangladesh

Social movements have to begin somewhere. A few recent examples of laudable social movements can be seen in Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country where girls' and women's rights are steadily improving. Of course there are and will be setbacks. However, these examples are crucial in showcasing how struggles for social equity in places of heavy poverty are not impossible.

First in this interview, Irene Khan (former secretary general of Amnesty International) and Nicholas Kristof (author of Half the Sky) discuss how the United States has attempted to "build up" Pakistan by building up their military, and subsequently, how this has done little to improve Pakistanis' quality of life and image of Americans.

Conversely in Bangladesh, social movements pushing for social stability have revolved around equal education for girls, which over time have led to more women integrated in the business sector. Kristof and Khan stress that these gender imbalances are being rectified through official state policies within a largely Muslim country (listen in particular from about the 30-37 minute period of the interview).

One can see Bangladesh's efforts to battle instability through the improvement of boys' and girls' literacy here:

And in the Al Jazeera YouTube video, below, one can see a youth movement striving for children's
rights, most notably girls' rights not to be forced into arranged marriages.

For sociologists who spend an inordinate amount of time highlighting social problems without tangible models for addressing those problems, these are a few good examples that can be used to point out broad-based efforts promoting positive social change.

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