How many futures do we have? How many alternatives futures can we imagine for ourselves, and the world at large? 17 HerStory fellows set out to address these questions at a training session held on January 24-25 at IUB, Dhaka as part of the coursework for their year long fellowship program for HerStory Foundation.
'Storytelling and Alternative Futures', a two-day-long training hosted by HerStory Foundation, was conducted by Shakil Ahmed, an educator, futurist and storyteller and part of the leadership team at Acumen Academy Bangladesh who has been recognized as a Young Global Changer at the Global Solutions Summit in Berlin and as a Joseph Jaworksi Next Generation Foresight Practitioner.
"It's important that fellows understand the role of storytelling in shaping the futures and thus, understanding their importance as storytellers - that the stories they tell today will result in the future tomorrow," shared Ahmed.The two-day workshop was meant to engage Fellows in using concepts from futures thinking to imagine alternative, preferred visions of the future and become better storytellers. Fellows also learned how to relate concepts of futures thinking with lessons from Supergirls, such as Professor Siddiqua Kabir, Nomita Halder, Zaya Chakma and Rokia Afzal Rahman, all featured in HerStories: Adventures of Supergirls. Fellows explored in particular the preferred futures of the city of Dhaka, the town of Dinajpur and the village of Poittola to visualize and backward plan what work has to be done and what they can do now and through the years until 2041. Fellows acted out their visions of the future in the hope that if you can imagine, visualize, hear, smell or even taste the future, then you can work towards making it possible.
"The '"A day in our life in 2040" acting segment pushed us out of our comfort zone in the best way possible. Performing, and acting out the changes we want to see in our future was incredibly educational and yet enjoyable," shared Shamsad Navia Novelly, a fellow and student of Gender Studies from Dhaka University.
The one-year Fellowship program has trained 17 Fellows to read HerStories: Adventures of Supergirls, a series of illustrated children's books about the lives of exceptional women from Bangladesh and Bengal, in engaging ways and to host discussions about gender equality, life-planning and respect. The stories are read to students of class VI from underserved communities, to guide them through discussions of key topics such as social responsibility and civil rights etc. This creative form of storytelling allows them to learn key decision making skills, framing their views of themselves, of gender roles as well as the world around them.
This pilot project has reached 10 underserved communities and approximately 500 people in Dhaka. For the second cohort in 2020, the Foundation aims to double that number.
HerStory Foundation, is a not-for-profit that creates innovative content for development, with a focus on gender equality, youth empowerment and women's rights. HerStories: Adventures of Supergirls, their illustrated children's book features 42 women trailblazers from present day Bengal and Bangladesh, including nutritionist Siddiqua Kabir and Nishat Mazumder, the first Bangladeshi Everest summiteer.