“If women are given equal opportunity in education and economic activities, they will be able to contribute for the development of the society and will gain much confidence” said an aged man observing the shyness of female kid to get on the stag for memorizing poetry. He said, â€œThis kind of shyness is rooted in the society due to gender inequality.â€ Giving approval to the comment of the aged man, an indigenous women approaching on the stage said, â€œPatriarchal society is responsible for the backwardness and lack of rights and confidence of women in the societyâ€ She went on saying, â€œIf equal opportunity is provided both to men and women, real development will happen and could bring prosperity and welfare for village and stateâ€.
The above mentioned incident occurred at the Shahid Minar premises of Kalmakanda in Netrokuna district where BARCIK and local community jointly arranged a 2-day biodiversity and livelihood fair on 26 and 27 of September, 2012 with the participation of farmers, weavers, fishers, indigenous men and women, teachers, students, local administrative bodies, members of civil society and people of all stakes.
The fair was inaugurated by Upozilla agriculture officer Dilip Kumar Odhilary followed by a short discussion. The discussants, in the inaugural discussion said that such kind of initiative was the first time in the area. They have never seen this kind of fair where things associated with the entire life and livelihood of community people could be exhibited. Some of the discussants said that they have never seen such diverse things in their life and they are now happy to be lucky to have been witnessing such an important fair held in their area. The discussants urged BARCIK to continue facilitating people in this way so that they conserve biodiversity and contribute to combat climate change induced disasters. Among the discussants include Upozilla academic supervisor Tariqul Islam, secondary education officer F.M Abdul Wazed and Cooperative official Tapan Kumar Das.
On the other hand, during the men-women dialogue, the discussants, most of them comprised farmers and women, said, â€œWithout ensuring equal rights and dignity of men and women in the society, real development could hardly happen. Therefore, when development activities are implemented both men and women should be consulted and included in the implementation processâ€. They added, â€œWomen are the custody of all kinds of cropsâ€™ seeds and they play vital role in agro production and processing of the agro produces but they are rarely recognized as one of the decision makers in the family. This kind of hindrance should be removed to ensure that women have their right to say and to opineâ€. Farmers and women who participated in the dialogue urged the concerned authority to ensure the proper use and management of natural resources so that biodiversity could be conserved. In the same time they also demand to take initiative ensuring equal participation of men and women in all kinds of development initiative.
In the 2-day biodiversity and livelihood fair, nonetheless, both Bengali and Indigenous men and women who live there side by side exhibited and displayed several things associated with their life and livelihood which include: local resources, their use, classification and traits. However, about 300 types of local rice varieties seeds, local vegetable seeds, local fruits, medicinal plants, herbs, indigenous peoplesâ€™ musical instruments, ornaments, local agro materials, hand made foods, cakes, wetlands biodiversity, haor areaâ€™s birds, uncultivated food plants, vegetable produced in organic method, local varieties of fishes and crabs, snails, spiders, frogs, etc were exhibited in the fair which created the attention of people almost all stakes. The exhibited elements in the fair are today at the risk of extinction due to lack of use and conservation as well as the promotion and introduction of modern agriculture in the area. Hajong and Garo community brought wild and rare types of eggplants and tomato to exhibit in the fair. They have been conserving these types of vegetable through their own way of farming for a long time.
Among the activities done in the 2-day fair include debate competition, drawing, farmerâ€™s speech, quiz competition, drama staging and some other interesting and traditional activities of rural life etc. Including student farmers, women and even the audiences took part in the activities. It is mentionable that cultural function was staged during the 2-day fair to entertain the audiences where both Bengali and Indigenous peoplesâ€™ traditional songs and dances were performed.