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In Pursuit of a Better Tomorrow...

Tashmina Rahman's picture

On September 17th 2011, six youth delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan & Sri Lanka met for the first time in Washington D.C to attend the ‘World Bank & IMF Annual Meetings 2011’. Though it was the first time we’d seen each other, it felt as if we had known one another for a long time! This was all thanks to our numerous Facebook, Skype and e-mail conversations that took place prior to our final meeting in the U.S.A, which allowed us to recognize the one thing that we all had in common: The aim and drive for socio-economic progress & development in our countries and region and the strong belief that South Asian youth are the key to bringing about the positive change!

The meetings kicked off with orientation sessions held separately by both the World Bank and IMF. These sessions allowed me to get a better understanding of how the organizations work and how they have evolved with time. Through these sessions, I got the opportunity to get introduced with youth delegates from African and Arab Middle Eastern region as well! We all came from different countries and with different experiences, and through these interactive sessions with WB and IMF staff, we got the opportunity to not only share our thoughts on various socio-economic issues, but also clarify our concerns through questioning the staff!

One of the sessions that I enjoyed most was the ‘Think Equal Open Forum’, which included an expert panel including the World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Nike Foundation CEO Maria Eitel and others. Watching videos of women and hearing messages from participants from around the world and listening to debates on what are the crucial factors to promote gender equality, all boiled down to asking myself : What does EQUAL mean to me?

Hence, the meetings were not only informative but thought-provoking!

However, the most exciting session would have to be the South Asian youth delegation meeting with the World Bank South Asian Region Vice President, Country Directors and other high officials! We got the great opportunity to speak and share our thoughts and insights on key youth related issues in the region. Prior to this meeting, we had a session with the World Bank South Asian region staff, to whom we showcased our youth related development activities and discussed on ways to involve youth in the development process. At the end of these sessions, I believe what became apparent to all of us, especially to the South Asian youth delegates, is that despite the economic, social or political conditions of our nations, when it comes to youth related issues, our problems were alike, our aspirations were the same. Hence from the discussions we had, the realization came that we need to work not only within our own countries but as a region to tackle issues like youth unemployment, gender inequality, malnutrition etc.

Our realization became stronger following the two main events that took place, firstly, the launching of the ‘More & Better Jobs in South Asia’ flagship and secondly, ‘Ensuring Nutrition & Food Security for Results in South Asia’. Both these sessions helped us to get a look into where our countries stood as well as where we were as a region on these issues!

‘The World Bank & IMF Annual Meetings 2011’ has been the most exciting week of my life! What it has taught me is tough to summarize, because I feel this experience does not end here; it has only given me the inspiration to pursue greater work in my country and region, which I believe will bring along with it many more teachings! And at the end of the meetings, I believe that what this experience has created is magical --- it has transformed the six youth delegates from six countries to one South Asian Youth Delegation! And this is the greatest thing that I have taken from this entire experience--- the understanding that despite race, color, gender, religion or any other discriminatory factor, we, the youth are above it all when it comes to working together in hopes of pursuing a better tomorrow for our countries, our region and our world.

My heartfelt thanks to all World Bank Staff, youth delegates and every one affiliated with the meetings for making this experience inspirational and phenomenal! I truly believe that this experience will be cherished by the South Asian youth delegation as a launch to greater work in the region!

Comments

Submitted by Sohag on
It seems that your Tomorrow... is certainly better but tomorrow of Bangladesh is uncertain

@ Sohag, I completely understand your concern regarding the future of our country. People are used to always reading and hearing negative news or stories or experiencing such, that they have become 'uncertain' or pessimistic about Bangladesh's future. But, I always like to look at the positive sides to many of our problems, e.g, the huge growing demand for energy is certainly an indicator of economic growth. Other than this, compared to a decade ago, we have growing women labor force participation, higher school enrollment, a boosting private sector, a reduction in poverty by 8.5%, a satisfactory 10 yr average GDP growth of 6.5%, despite natural disasters and other shocks. And yes, we have problems, and we are struggling as a nation. But look how far we have come post 40 yrs of independence. We still have a long way to go, but we are heading toward it and I see the potential of the youth of this country taking it there. Through social media, I am sure you are aware of the many active youth & volunteer organizations, working without any political affiliation, selflessly at the ground level! So yes Sohag, I CERTAINLY see a better tomorrow for myself because I choose to be optimistic and have faith in the people and believe Bangladesh is going to develop, maybe slowly, but eventually.

Submitted by S. Akhtar Mahmood on
As a fellow Bangladeshi, I share Tashmina's optimism about our country. One important reasons for this is the spread of the entrepreneurial spirit among Bangladeshis, once known as a nation more interested in the comfort of poetry and music than the risks of doing business. This spirit is now evident even among poor women in Bangladeshi villages - a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit a village in northern Bangladesh where a group of rural women have gone into the business of prodcuing and marketing high quality seeds. Buyers are now coming from other dsitricts, some having heard about them through a program in a private TV channel and establishng contact through their mobile phones. This spread of entrepreneurship, facilitated by the leaps in communication, opens up enormous opportunities. But the government needs to act fast and create a congenial environment. And it will do so, if people in society craete a strong voice for entrepreneurship. Perhaps, Tashmina and others in her generation will join in creating that voice! S. Akhtar Mahmood IFC

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