Moni - An Ordinary Girl Pursues an Extraordinary Dream

Moni - An Ordinary Girl Pursues an Extraordinary Dream
Monira Akter Moni, a rural girl from Osmanpur of Ghoraghat upazila in Dinajpur district in Bangladesh went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the 3rd International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2013). She became part of this successful conference underlining the theme: “Full Access-Full Choice”. Her visit was arranged under Bangladesh Knowledge Management Initiative (BKMI) with financial support from USAID. 
One of the three videos on the youths’ perception towards life and family planning shown during the opening session of ICFP 2013 was Moni’s. Later when the time capsule - “the 2020” was introduced with the call for action for individuals to make personal commitments about how they can make a difference in family planning within their community, Moni was called on stage in front of more than 3,300 delegates from 120 countries to share her commitment and post it on the time capsule.  The ideas gathered from the conference will be saved and opened again in 2020.
She was one of the 300 youth delegates selected from all over the world to attend the conference. With the others, Moni initially attended the Youth Pre-Conference Training which helped the youths set goals for ICFP 2013.
Moni is a shining example of women’s empowerment in Bangladesh and the reach of development programs.
The Beginning
In 2005, Moni was an ordinary 13-year old adolescent. Like other adolescents she was in that stage of life where she was trying to make sense of the changes in her mind and body. Her parents wanted her to marry. She did not know whether to give in or pursue her dream of becoming self-sufficient.
About the same time, Moni enrolled in a program at her school without knowing that she was making a life-changing decision. The “Know Yourself” program was a workshop organized by BCCP with technical assistance from JHU.CCP and financial support from USAID. The workshop revolved around interactive discussions on various psycho-social skills that adolescents need to lead a healthy reproductive life.  She soon learned that taking decisions was important and that Interpersonal Communication is a skill that helps one to negotiate with others, tackle adverse situations and solve problems. She acquired these knowledge and skills and used them to convince her parents to delay the marriage and let her continue studying.
In time, Moni finished school and came to Dhaka to pursue a career in the nursing profession. Her perseverance got her admitted at the Uttara Mohila Medical and Nursing College, Dhaka. In her own words, “I could have been a drop-out and have a life which I never desired but I have learned from BCCP’s life skills workshop that life should proceed with an aim…I have to do something…something different”. 
And she progressed towards her goal!
In her speech in ICFP 2013, she shared, “I believe family planning is very important for the youth because it can play a vital role in controlling over-population. I have learned the benefits of a planned family and the bad effects of early marriage. So I decided to talk about family planning with my friends and others. I will tell them the benefits and encourage them to think about a planned family. I took a vow that I will spread the messages of family planning”.