Ambassador Bernicat’s Remarks on Photo Exhibition in Khulna

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NOVEMBER 30, 2016

Good afternoon, Namashkar and As-Salaam-Alaikum.

We are honored to be joined by Professor Dr. Abdullah, Vice Chancellor of Northern University of Business and Technology, Khulna, our partner host institution for this American Corner. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to visit the American Corner in Khulna, and to welcome you to this special program to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, which began November 25 and continues through December 10.

The global 16 Days Campaign is an annual opportunity for people of conscience around the world to express their disapproval of violence against women and girls through words and actions that demand respect, rights and dignity for one-half of the world’s population.   As the United States Ambassador to Bangladesh, I am working jointly with 13 other women ambassadors, high commissioners and heads of international organizations to send the message – through media outreach and awareness activities – that gender-based violence is unacceptable and can be prevented if we each do our part. The health and well-being of our nations, and by extension the world, depend on it.

This afternoon, I am eager to join the Khulna community in recognizing the importance of ending gender-based violence by launching the photo exhibition entitled “My Daughter is Precious.” It is my special honor to introduce Rajesh Ramakrishnan whose exhibition we are opening today and also to acknowledge Rajesh’s daughter Kaavya, who was part of the inspiration in the genesis of the “My Daughter is Precious” project.   Rajesh launched this photography project to convey the idea that his daughter – and by extension, all girls – are inherently valuable and deserved to be loved and cherished.   The father-daughter duo takes Polaroid photos of fathers and daughters belonging to society’s less privileged communities and the photos are given to those they encounter.   Countless fathers participated in the photo campaign, sharing feelings of love for their daughters despite the larger society’s denial of their worthiness. In the process, Rajesh and Kaavya are also raising money for the education of young girls in India and Bangladesh whose parents can’t afford to keep their daughters in school. This project reminds me that just like Rajesh and Kaavya, we can each do our part to reaffirm the value of women and girls and say “no” to the violence that is so pervasive.

I want to invite Rajesh to tell us a little more about this inspirational project and where they want to go from here. Afterward, please join me in viewing the photos and reading the stories in hopes that you, too, will be inspired to stand for the values of respect, dignity and peace.

Thank you.

In Bangla (PDF 229 KB)