The ceremony was hosted this week on the Facebook page of the HerStory Foundation
The HerStory Foundation's Incredible Read-Aloud Fellowship, a year-long leadership program for the students of Dhaka University and IUB (Independent University, Bangladesh), has ended with a virtual graduation ceremony.
The ceremony was hosted this week on the Facebook page of the HerStory Foundation, a not-for-profit that creates innovative content for development, with a focus on gender equality, youth empowerment, and women's rights.
HerStories chronicle the lives of important female personalities of Bangladesh, providing a range of different role-models for children and fostering a sense of pride and possibility, in girls and boys alike, according to a press statement.
In the program, 15 fellows were selected from a pool of over 60 applicants, trained to deliver the HerStories, an illustrated children's book featuring the female role models, in engaging and powerful ways.
HerStory fellows were linked to partner classrooms in under-privileged Bangla-medium schools where they performed the HerStory Read-Aloud on a monthly basis, equipped with the tools to empower their audience and lead discussions. The aim of the program was to foster gender awareness through storytelling and community engagement.
The graduation ceremony opened with a performance by the Ghaashphoring Choir, directed by Armeen Musa.
Former adviser to the caretaker government Rokia Afzal Rahman, who is also one of the supergirls featured in the book, was the chief guest in the ceremony.
Congratulating the graduating class, she said: "It's vital that we dream big and aspire for great heights. When I see this generation dream big and encourage children to do the same, I know that for generations to come - we are passing on the right message."
The commencement speech was delivered by Marina Tabassum, architect and supergirl from the HerStories series.
She said: "Being featured in the HerStories series has been a great honour for me, because I remember how as a child, my father would read me stories of inspiring characters that really impacted me and how I led my life. To have these fellows take on the challenge of reading to children, and helping them dream big and aspire to greater heights is a commendable feat," she added.
Standard Chartered Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Naser Ezaz and IPDC Finance Managing Director and CEO Mominul Islam were present as guests of honour. Neela Akter from Dhaka University was named valedictorian of her class.
Launched in September 2019, the team of 15 "Incredible Fellows" was tagged in a classroom to read-aloud HerStories and discuss gender, future thinking, and life planning with young listeners. Through the simple act of the read-aloud, fellows fostered respect and motivated young listeners.
Founder and Executive Director of HerStory Foundation Zareen Mahmud Hosein said: "Through the simple act of sharing stories, readers open up the minds of young listeners to possibilities and alternative models of the world, where girls and boys have the power to make their own stories."