Fellow Since 1998
Life Based Education and Action Research Network (LEARN)
This profile was prepared when Fatima Khanam was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Fatima Khanam is challenging the existing belief that women cannot change government or business practices that affect their lives, by paving the way for women to become policy- and decision-makers in those arenas. She is combining an improved gender focused education curriculum with extra-curricular programs to develop the leadership potential of young college female students in Bangladesh. A key component of her work revolves around transforming student hostels. Traditionally, student hostels are used only for residential purposes. Fatima, however, views them as potential Women Development Institutes whereby the existing infrastructure can also be utilized as a center for women to come and learn, receive training, develop professional skills and be involved in income generating projects. Concurrently, she is organizing, training and motivating college administrators and teachers to conduct courses in gender and development, a subject area which previously had been severely neglected in Bangladesh.