Girls’ Rights Advocate, Shah Vashwati (Asian Girl Ambassador)


Shah VashwatiShah Vashwati Madhurima is a 17-year-old Bangladeshi student and girls’ rights advocate. She was 2012’s Asian Girl Ambassador. She works with NUK (Nari Uddug Kendra), a national organization that promotes gender equality, human rights and the personal empowerment of women and girls. Shah serves as the NUK Student Forum general secretary in her home district of Kishorganj.

Through her involvement with NUK, Shah has helped increase girls’ self-confidence and deliver them from dangerous situations. Some of her biggest accomplishments are preventing four marriages that involved child brides, helping three women from poor families avoid paying a dowry and also protecting four girls from sexual harassment and molestation.

Discussions with family to prevent child marriage

Shah and the NUK

In 2009, Shah received karate training through the NUK’s Sports and Physical Activities for Women’s Empowerment project. Sports are used by NUK to empower girls and give them more self-confidence, and karate lessons obviously help young females defend themselves against violence.

During her karate program, Shah received instruction on gender equality and women’s rights, and she now uses what she learned to help others.

Shah explains that women in her country can face verbal, physical and sexual abuse in the home and in the community. Many girls do not understand that their lives are worthwhile and that they are entitled to the same rights as men. Child marriages and domestic violence is common, and harassment of girls and women is common.

Thanks to Shah, and brave women and girls like her, there is hope that the situation in Bangladesh can improve. (By Andrew Crosthwaite)

To view Shah’s presentation on Slideshare, click here.


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