Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy, The Icon of Women Empowerment in Bangladesh By Ashik Mishu & Mohiuddin Moin

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Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy,first woman Mayor in the History of Bangladesh. She has got a tremendous political carrier and become the Icon for women empowerment in Bangladesh.  Ivy born on 13th January 1966, is a Bangladeshi politician, a physician and current city mayor of Narayanganj. Her mother is Mamataj Begum and father is Ali Ahmed Chunka, the former chairman of Narayanganj municipality. Dr. Salina Hayat Ivy has four brothers and sisters. Previously, she had also run the municipality for eight years from 2003. The Pages had an interview session where she told about her personal and professional life which is presented below.

How do you feel about being elected as not only the first mayor of Narayanganj, but also the first woman mayor of Bangladesh?

Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy: To be honest, I never had to think like that: neither as a woman, nor as a female mayor. It’s been a long time since I have started working for municipalities, which, later on, is transformed into ‘City Corporation’ in 2011. My journey in municipality began from2003. Back then, I was the first woman chairman of the municipal. Later, in 2011, I became the mayor.

Of course, it feels great, especially, when you come across this position in Narayanganj. I feel overjoyed with pride when I think of my Parents. I am proud of being their child. Also, I must mention the unconditional love, trust, and support I got from people of Narayanganj. These people voted me and made me the winner in the election.

You belong to family with a political background. Has it, in any way, worked as a role motivator to guide you into today’s position?

Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy: Of course. If it weren’t for the family, I would never have reached so far. Till now, there have been no such steps where my family did not support me. Rather, each of my moves are linked to the roles played by my family, friends, and well wishers.

Professionally, you have been a doctor. Today, with your medical background, do you, anyhow, still miss the profession?

Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy: To be honest, I never moved away from this profession. As a doctor, I always played my role and took care of the patients. When I compare it with my role of the mayor, you see, I still take care of my people. Both the professions are services, which care for people. Rather, in the later one, I serve and aid to people with multiple problems. Emotion is complex. At times, I do feel that it would have been better if I still were a doctor. Probably I still could have been a doctor. Unfortunately, due to the busy schedule, I am left with no time to practice it anymore.

It’s World Women’s Day in March. This show is specially being organized for that occasion. As a woman, what are the challenges you had to face in the whole career?

Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy: Our male dominated social construction always makes it difficult for a woman to go ahead. Here, the female figures are always yet to prove their capabilities, through various restrictions, hardships and competitions. It was no different in my case. Even I had to face these challenges since 2003. Many, including my workers, could not tolerate it after I first became elected in the municipalities. It was not really easy to tackle all of it. Also, the financial status was an issue. I started the whole process with only 11 lakh taka. In other word, I constantly, had to go through the social tackles and keep on proving myself (my worth, capabilities, strength) the whole time. Gradually, I won trust from my people. Even then, I gulped words from the critics. They were always there to demotivate me. Finally, with the grace of Almighty, the love, trust, and support of my citizen made my identity.

“I am not an idol. I work for people”

What message would you like to give those who follow you as their idol?

Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy: Here is nothing to follow me really. And I am not an idol. I work for people, because I love them unconditionally. I believe they do or will do the same. The most important values an individual must have are honesty, self-confidence, education, and the ability to fight. These will take a woman towards a long way ahead. All of these are important. And these are what makes a person strong, with his/her patriotism. What’s more important is not to have any expectation, because expectations in return do not let you reach your aim/target.

The election was held couple of months back. There, you are elected for the second time. Surely, it has been possible because the citizens trusted you. You won their heart. Could you kindly enlighten us about the role of the manifesto you used?

Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy: During the election, I did not really give people a list of fake promises about what we will do. The utterances were quite logical, and practical. Such as, bridges over the river, digging up cannels and making roads for pedestrians are very important. Dealing with these infrastructures are the responsibilities of a mayor. This is the role I played for my people. Also I focused on transforming several terms into actions, such as: ‘clean city’, ‘green- tree’,

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