Women club inducts man as president

The campaign for women empowerment in recent years installed them in many positions which previously were meant for males alone, but the gender promotion offered at least one man in the country a unique "privileged" standing because of his wife's official status.

Wives of the male teachers of Jahangirnagar University had formed a women's club in 1982 earmarking the position of the forum for the wife of the incumbent vice chancellor.

After over three decades of inception, the club was virtually compelled to amend its constitution to replace the word "wife" with "spouse" after the appointment of Professor Dr Farzana Islam as vice chancellor of the public university.

Professor Farzana became the first woman to be the vice chancellor of a public university and simultaneously her husband appeared as the first man to take the charge of a women club as its president, initially with much hesitation.

"To tell you frankly, initially I felt nervous to be the only man in the club of women wondering how the women will receive me," vice-chancellor's spouse Akhtar Hossain told BSS.

A businessman and litterateur in personal life, Hossain said he was initially reluctant to take the charge also because the club's constitution earmarked the position for the vice-chancellor's "wife".

Hossain said he took the charge as three months later the word "wife" was replaced with "spouse" in the club's constitution.

"I enjoy the moment particularly when I am introduced as the Chairperson of a Women Club . . . I don't feel embarrassed as they (women) treat me as one of them," he said.

The club's general secretary Kamrun Nessa Kafi said their forum was visibly exposed to a difficult state when Professor Farzana was appointed as the vice chancellor but "we overcame it soon".

"Rather, the installation of a man as the president of Jahangirnagar University Women's Club made some of our works easier in running the forum," she said.

Another member, preferring anonymity, said previously the club was faced with some subtle problems linked to the groupings among women but "such problems largely disappeared with a male president's appointment".

Several members said under Hossain's stewardship a pre-primary school, run by the club, was elevated to the status of a primary school maintaining high quality while its one-storey building became a three-storey structure having a newly constructed boundary wall.

Hossain said he planned to take some more initiatives so its members could spend some quality and comfortable time in the club with better entertainment amenities.

"I am also trying to reduce gaps between men and women by taking initiative to make inclusive environment in the club," he added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)