Ankita Islam Becomes First Transgender In Bangladesh To Pursue MBA
The prestigious public education institute of Bangladesh, Dhaka University, was once called the Oxford of East. Stalwarts like physicist Satyendranath Bose taught the students at this University once, and the students also played a crucial role in the liberation of Bangladesh. The University has again come under the spotlight for setting an example for the world by promoting gender equity and inclusive education.
As a step towards building an inclusive Bangladesh, the University has provided full scholarship support worth 3.5 lakhs (taka) to the determined and hard-working student Ankita Islam, who comes from the small village of Nanduria in Tangail, Bangladesh. The scholarship support was given to Ankita after she successfully qualified for the entrance examination for the MBA programme.
First Transgender Of Bangladesh To Pursue MBA
After defeating all the odds, she has become the first transgender woman in Bangladesh to pursue MBA at Dhaka University with scholarship support. The University’s financial aid helped her achieve this feat as she comes from a marginalised community and has always lived a life of financial hardship.
Hochemin Islam, trans rights activist of Bangladesh, who is also the first transgender nurse in the country, played a crucial role in helping Ankita achieve this feat. Hochemin is the Transgender Goodwill Ambassador of the noted NGO of Bangladesh – No Passport Voice, and also the country lead of the South Asian Young queer Activist Network or SAYAN, which is a South Asian platform working on gender rights.
After Ankita cleared both her written and viva for the executive course on MBA from Dhaka University in December 2022, the course fees became the biggest challenge. She has been an exceptional student since her initial days as she completed her graduation in Mathematics, despite facing extreme bullying and gender-based violence. However, she never made herself weak and infirm because of her gender identity.
Know How Hochemin Inspired Ankita & Others
Ankita was greatly inspired by Hochemin, who is considered to be the face of the transgender movement in Bangladesh. In the past, Hochemin fought a long battle with authorities while pursuing her Master’s programme at BRAC University on Public Health to create equal opportunity at corporate and government organisations for transgender people.
Hochemin’s effort opened doors for many transgender people at BRAC Bank for the first time. Ankita, among a few other transgender people, gave an online interview during the pandemic and her personality and passion attracted the human resource department of BRAC Bank. She was among the few who got the call to come to Dhaka for an in-person interview in 2021, but it was nearly impossible for her to manage finance to travel to Dhaka and stay there till the completion of the entire process.
Some candidates decided to stay overnight at the bus terminus despite the risks. To help others in the challenging situation, Hochemin supported them with staying arrangements in Dhaka through the NGO- No Passport Voice. Breaking all prejudices and stereotypes, Ankita and a few other Transgender people qualified to work at BRAC Bank, which became an inspiring story in Bangladesh.
These incidents created precedence not only for Bangladesh but for the entire South Asia and the global community at large, sending a message of equality- transgender people in no way lack the quality and determination compared to the mainstream population.
Ankita’s Journey To Dhaka University
After clearing her entrance exam for the MBA programme, the course fee became the last hurdle. But the support received by Hochemin changed the entire scenario for Ankita. Hochemin tried to make the authorities understand gender equity and its importance if the country wants marginalised communities to access rights around education and health.
But both of them had to come back empty-handed from the Dean of Arts and Dean of Business with the reply that no such provision of fee waiver exists for marginalised communities. Following this, Hochemin reached out to the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University, Dr Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, over a phone call and requested an in-person meeting. Noting down the strength in the voice, the Vice Chancellor invited them for a meeting in his chamber.
At his chamber, Hochemin made a passionate and powerful argument for a scholarship for Ankita, narrating her exceptional academic journey and the challenges faced by transgender communities in such situations. The Vice-Chancellor immediately took action by calling the university deans. He directed them to do all the required paperwork, allowing Ankita to get the full course fee as a scholarship.
The courageous step taken by Ankita and Hochemin will change the course of the civil rights movement in Bangladesh. The Vice Chancellor of the University will also be remembered for his contribution and steps toward setting an example of gender equity and inclusive education.
Mrs Fatima Bedum is an Author for Lakkars Magazine, the North Zone Head of India and the Chief Editor of Lakkars Magazine for the articles.