Farhana Alam is the Assistant Director of The Center of Excellence for Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (CGSRHR) at the James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University. She is working in this field for the past six years. She presented a documentary on single working women as a panelist at Dhaka Lit Fest 2019. She has also written a book about people living with physical disabilities. We recently caught up with Farhana to learn more about her work.
How does your work intend to address issues related to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)?
The main aim of my work is to promote a broader understanding around gender, power relations, masculinity, disability, sexuality, diversity and human right issues that are stigmatised by our society. I also work on comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents which is an important aspect of SRHR. I am involved in both academic and action based research and strongly believe in translating knowledge into advocacy-based action for social and structural changes. I would like to extend my gratitude to our Dean, Professor Sabina F Rashid, for her constant support throughout my professional endeavours.
What is your book, ‘Untold Desires,’ about?
It is a photo-narrative book launched in 2018, which shows how people with physical disabilities navigate through their emotional and materialistic struggles when it comes to their identities, relationships and sexuality. The narratives of this book questioned my own assumptions about people with disabilities. It was great to see how men with disabilities challenge the norms of masculinity, and that not all women subscribe to stereotypical images of a passive disabled person.
Tell us a little about your documentary on single working women.
More often than not, working women, be they single or married, face harsh judgements from the society. As an independent woman advocating for sexuality and rights, I have encountered passive aggressive behaviours from people around me. The idea of the documentary came from personal experiences and listening to other women’s stories. The documentary is about working women who face challenges for choosing to be single and still thrive as the architects of their own happiness.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a project that focuses on strengthening voices and capacities for addressing gender-based violence in Bangladesh and I am involved in couple of research projects on issues like migration and inclusion of marginalised communities.