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Rumana Monzur to speak at One Billion Rising event in Abbotsford

Rumana Monzur - Submitted photo
Rumana Monzur
— image credit: Submitted photo

Abbotsford’s One Billion Rising event added a powerful voice with the recent inclusion of women’s rights advocate Rumana Monzur.

The event, co-presented by the University of the Fraser Valley, takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Thunderbird Civic Plaza and The Reach Gallery Museum on International Women’s Day, March 8.

Monzur made international headlines in June 2011 after being brutally assaulted by her husband in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Enraged that his wife planned to return to further her education at the University of British Columbia, he attacked her to the point of partially blinding her, all while their daughter watched, horrified.

The fact that attempts to save her sight were unsuccessful hasn’t deterred Monzur, who returned to Canada and now lives on UBC’s campus with her daughter and parents. Monzur is using braille and audio recording devices to study law, following up on her master’s degree in political science.

Her husband was charged with attempted murder, but died in prison five months after the attack.

Monzur will be the keynote speaker at 1 p.m. on Saturday during One Billion Rising activities, including a film screening, at The Reach Gallery Museum, 32388 Veterans Way.

Other activities take place outdoors at civic plaza (32315 South Fraser Way), including guest speakers, the One Billion Rising dance and an open mic time for women to share their stories.

One Billion Rising began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that one in three women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at seven billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls.

As the founder of Girlkind Foundation (a group that fights gendercide, combats gender discrimination, and raises awareness for women’s rights), Deesh Sekhon feels the amalgamation of International Women’s Day and One Billion Rising events in Canada is a day to look at challenges, but also successes.

“It’s a day to celebrate the inspirational and brave work women around the world are doing to secure women’s and girls’ rights and create better and equitable societies,” she says.

“It is also a day to reflect on the work that remains and remember the many women whose voices go unheard and who continue to be excluded from realizing their full potential. One Billion Rising will turn the world stage into an arena for events worldwide.”

The Abbotsford event is free but registration is recommended for the film screening by calling 604-864-8087.

For more information, visit “International Women’s Day & 1 Billion Rising” on Facebook, email sharanjit.sandhra@ufv.ca or call Deesh Sekhon at 604-825-8088.

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