Abbotsford’s One Billion Rising event added a powerful voice with the recent inclusion of women’s rights advocate Rumana Monzur. The event, co-presented by the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley took place at Thunderbird Civic Plaza and The Reach Gallery Museum on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2014.
Monzur made international headlines in June, 2011 after being brutally assaulted by her husband in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Enraged that his wife planned to return to further her education at the University of British Columbia, he attacked her to the point of partially blinding her, all while their daughter watched, horrified.
The fact that attempts to save her sight were unsuccessful hasn’t deterred Monzur, who returned to Canada and now lives on UBC’s campus with her daughter and parents. Monzur is using braille and audio recording devices to study law, following up on her master’s degree in political science.Her commitment to education and unwillingness to concede in the face of incredible adversity made Monzur an ideal keynote speaker for Abbotsford’s International Women’s Day event says Sharanjit Sandhra, coordinator of UFV’s Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies (CICS). According to Sandhra, who invited Monzur to participate, she exemplifies the challenges that led to the creation of the global activist movement called V-Day that grew into One Billion Rising events across the world. “For Rumana to have experienced such violence and aggression and come out not with bitterness, but with a renewed sense of spirit and drive to succeed is something that would motivate anyone,” says Sandhra, who is co-organizing the March 8 event.
“We at the UFV Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies are very proud to be a part of the annual International Women’s Day and the One Billion Rising celebrations because such events serve as reminders that underneath our different cultures, backgrounds, and overall life experiences, there is a narrative that women all over the world share. This event is about empowerment and encouraging young girls and women to achieve to their fullest potential. That is what a woman like Rumana reminds us all to do.”
In addition to the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies and Girlkind, other event partners included: The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford, The Fraser Valley Coalition for Women, Abbotsford Community Services, Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley, Christine Lamb House, and The International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy.
Abbotsford’s One Billion Rising event was a great success with over 100 community members participating. Rumana’s speech was very well received as she was full of such positive and vibrant energy. In addition, Deputy Chief of Abbotsford Police Services, Rick Lucy spoke about the Abbotsford Police and its goals to eliminate domestic violence in our communities.