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Bangladeshi Teen Stands Tall at U.N.
Dolly Akter told the General Assembly how she helped people in her Dhaka slum
Golam Mustofa Sarowar (Golam)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-12 15:07 (KST)   
Bangladesh took center stage around the world last week. One of the country's most famous men and a young teenage girl from a Dhaka slum, addressed the world from different parts of the globe.

On Dec. 8, Dolly Akter a 17-year-old girl from Rupnagar slum, addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. On Dec. 10 Prof. Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

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Dolly was asked not only to represent Bangladesh but children all over the world at the Special Commemorative Event to celebrate UNICEF's 60th Anniversary on December 8.

"I have always dreamt of coming to New York, although I must confess that I never imagined speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations or joining this wonderful celebration of UNICEF's 60th anniversary," said Dolly Akter while addressing the Assembly.

An active agent of social change like the Nobel Laureate banker of the poor Muhammad Yunus, Dolly along with a dozen peers, brought about some positive transformations in the Rupnagar slum -- an abode of some 2000 families -- within a span of few years.

She along with others formed a club to help improve living conditions in the neighborhood as part of a project on Environmental Sanitation, Hygiene and Water Supply, which was launched in 2000 and is supported by UNICEF. It was one of several clubs funded by UNICEF to help promote environmental sanitation, safe water supply, community health, hygiene and cleanliness.

"We went door-to-door to teach our neighbors about the links between good hygiene and health...The results of introducing these simple changes in behavior were greater than we could have imagined," she told the U.N. General Assembly, and invited the gathering to take a stroll down the narrow lanes of Rupnagar to see the positive changes.

These changes encouraged the group to take on new challenges and set their sights on issues that influence girls' lives in particular -- child marriage, the practice of dowry, and education.

"If girls like us can come together to achieve so much in such a short time, just imagine how much more can be done for children and families everywhere," said Dolly Akter, urging other teenagers and adolescents like her to join forces.

She also congratulated UNICEF for all it has done for children in the past 60 years and especially thanked the organization for enabling a small band of girls from Bangladesh to realize their potential as active proponents of social change.

This year, The State of the World's Children, UNICEF's flagship publication, focuses on the status of women, and how gender equality will move all the Millennium Development Goals forward, and how ultimately investing in women will produce a double dividend -- advancing the rights of both women and children.

The Bangladesh launch of The State of the World's Children will be held on Dec. 18 in Dhaka, where, among others, Dolly Akhter is likely to be present before all to narrate her experience.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Golam Mustofa Sarowar

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