DHAKA -"Meena was not merely a cartoon character to me. She was my first teacher as I learned about the potential contributions that girls can make for the society if they are given equal opportunities like boys," said Rashida Akter, an employee of a private firm when her
observation was sought about the famous cartoon character "Meena".
"Possibly, it was 1993 when BTV started airing Meena. It attracted me more because of my age . . . Meena was 9 or 10 as I was," said Rashida who is now in her 30s.
You are now a grown up lady of two children, what would have happened to Meena if she would have taken birth in a lower-middle income family like you, Rashida said, "Meena could have become a highly educated professional woman and I am sure, Meena would have remained vocal about the rights of women."
Same question was asked to some other professional women and most of them are of same opinion- "Meena cartoon has helped to change discriminatory mindset about girls in the society."
Meena would have been a well-educated lady who would have continued her campaign against women repression in the society. They said eve-teasing, social unrest, drug addiction and militancy are the major problems in the society and suggested making more cartoons like Meena to create public
awareness about these social problems.
Fictional character Meena, who stars in the South Asian children's
television show, spreads messages against stopping child marriage and the practice of dowry, promotes healthy toilet use, sending girls to schools, equality between boys and girls and the right to education for the domestic workers.
"As Meena's role in the cartoon was mainly to create awareness among people of all level about discrimination against girl child, it is natural that she would have continued to play the same role at her grown-up stage," said Rebeka Rehman, a private bank official.
"I still try to watch Meena cartoon on TV and encourage my two children to watch it," said Rebeka who is a mother of two girls.
Like Rebeka, Rita and Mahmuda said they were attracted by the Meena
cartoon because it spread an important message that girls can play a vital role for the welfare of the society if the family, society and the state extend their cooperation.
"I was a regular viewer of Meena cartoon because Meena and two other secondary characters -- Meena's brother Raju and her pet parrot Mithu -- were going to school together and playing together to promote child rights," said Rita, a teacher of a private school.
Mahmuda said Meena cartoon played a very important role in promoting awareness against child marriage, child labour as well as social disparity.
"I think, Meena would have continued her struggle against all social
equalities, especially against repression on girls. Every society needs a Meena in real sense to continue movement for establishing the rights of distressed people of all level," said Mahmuda, owner of a boutique shop.
UNICEF developed the Meena Communication Initiative (MCI) as a mass
communication project aimed at changing perceptions and behavior that hamper he survival, protection and development of girls in South Asia.
In 1998, Bangladesh marked Meena Day on the national calendar because of its huge popularity and the day is celebrated every year.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)