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Women in Bangladesh: Celebrating Rujina

Every year, March 8 marks International Women’s Day – a day highlighting the achievements of women across the globe.

Here at Islamic Relief, we’re celebrating the achievements of Rujina, an inspirational woman from Bangladesh.


A difficult start: Living with a disability in a rural community

Rujina is from a small conservative rural village in Bangladesh.

When she was just two years old, she suffered a high fever and lost the feeling in both of her legs. She was then diagnosed with Polio.

The Polio affected her ability to walk, with her muscles severely weakened. Unable to walk in a straight line, Rujina is now classified as disabled.

Living with a disability, Rujina was afraid to leave her home for fear she would be taunted by members of her community.

Most disabled people in our society face social exclusion from their family and community…Students made fun of my condition, but I was lucky to have parents and teachers who cared for me. (Rujina)

With this support and her hard work, Regina excelled in school and received an academic award for being the highest achiever in her school.

However, when she got to college, things became more difficult and she ended up leaving her course:

It was a dark time for me. I quickly became reluctant to step outside for fear of facing people who made fun of me and my condition… I sank into deep depression…

Despite her difficulties, Rujina was determined to work towards a brighter future. And that’s where we stepped in.


A life-changing opportunity: Community leader and gender equality advocate

Rujina successfully applied for a role as a village motivator, as part of Islamic Relief’s project to provide employment opportunities to women in the area, as well as promoting women’s empowerment.

As part of the project, Rujina also received training around leadership.

With her newly acquired skills and confidence, Rujina was awarded the prestigious ‘Joyeeta Award’ by the Bangladeshi government, celebrating her tremendous contribution to women’s education and empowerment.

Today, Rujina has overcome her fears and is now a community leader advocating for gender equality. SubhanAllah!

Achieving the award has been my greatest achievement. Islamic Relief taught me that having a disability is not an obstacle for achieving one’s dreams.

If you are determined, sincere and work hard, you can achieve your goals. That is why I was able to make my parents proud.

Islamic Relief further continued to support Rujina, offering her a position as a community mobiliser.

In this role, she is responsible for managing six support groups for women and running awareness sessions around women’s rights on key issues such as gender-based violence and early/forced marriage.

Rujina also went on to complete her studies and has now attained a postgraduate degree. Her parents are, of course, very proud of their daughter:

It is nice to see my daughter succeed despite her physical condition. She was determined that nothing would stop her…I have never been more proud to be her parent… (Rujina’s father)

Thanks to her determination and hard work, combined with the support of her family and Islamic Relief, Rujina has completely transformed her life. She now dreams of supporting other women to become leaders too:

Women face many challenges in our society and being disabled exacerbates their situation even more…

My parents have given me the tools [I needed] and I will continue to pursue my dream of becoming a qualified teacher who teaches the next generation of young girls and women to be self-sufficient and become leaders…

Alhamdulillah – such amazing achievements. Thank you for supporting Rujina and many more women like her.

Rujina is one of countless women across the world who have transformed their lives through our women’s empowerment projects.

Women and girls account for an astonishing 70% of the world’s population living in poverty. Here at Islamic Relief, we’re helping to lift them out of poverty by supporting them to forge long-lasting livelihoods and become financially self-sufficient.

Help us to continue our vital work to change the narrative around women’s empowerment and ensure vulnerable women can gain agency over their lives.

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