Indonesia Youth Foundation has a series called #VoiceofYouth where we interview youth from different countries to discuss various topics and ask their opinion as a representation of us – youth – in general.
On November 16, we got the chance to talk with Farzana Sultana, a Bangladeshi majoring in Environmental Science at Asian University for Women.
We discussed several topics circling the diplomatic relation between Bangladesh-Indonesia, the humanitarian crisis, and gender inequality.
So, how do you see the relationship between our countries [Bangladesh and Indonesia]?
“I guess in terms of diplomatic relations, we have a lot of things in common between Indonesian and Bangladesh. We share [similar] products like food or services. But I don’t think there has been, like, a very in-depth relationship as to how we have with other countries. So, I guess there is a huge field where Indonesia and Bangladesh can incorporate with themselves and build new things and new platforms.”
Indonesia and Bangladesh have been working together in many areas, including trade, investment, agriculture, defence, education, counterterrorism, and many more. Which area do you think both nations must put their focus on and why?
“In terms of, like, trade and commerce is not very popular to the younger generation [because] it’s very governmentally. So, I guess, in a very popular way that Indonesia and Bangladesh can cooperate with one another probably in exchange of languages or practices – or culture.”
As a youth from both nations, what do you think we should do to contribute towards that goal?
“Probably blogs, where students who are interested in one other country can share. So, it becomes easier for them to acquire better education or probably have better chances in [applying] jobs. We can also do pen-pals, where we share information with one another, and one could invite one over. If students among themselves or younger generations among themselves had that kind of exposure to one another’s culture, a lot of people will be interested to travel to one another’s countries. So, if Indonesia and Bangladesh have those kinds of heritages or cultures that can be shared, that would be great for the younger generation to set a platform and exchange information with one another.”
One thing that Indonesia and Bangladesh had in common is we are both a Muslim majority country. Having said that, both nations shared the same concern over Rohingya’s humanitarian crisis. What is your thought on that?
“If you look back into the history of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka was initially acquired. The Rohingya and Myanmar were like, very close cultures. So, because we have a history of having different dialects and different states, we did have people living in Cox’s Bazar, who used to speak the Burmese language. So, the previous name of Myanmar was Burma. So we used to have this Burmese language. So, the ones that decided to stay in Bangladesh, got this Bangladeshi citizenship and the ones who decided to go back to Myanmar decided to have the binary citizenships. So, there are still Muslims in Myanmar, but they are not specifically from the Burmese community.
“People are noticing that we are able to provide a good amount of sustainable sustenance for these groups of people, we are actually welcoming a good number of manpower. Even today, the GDP of Bangladesh is about 4.5% more than India. But due to the overpopulation hype, there is a boundary for them not being able to enter into the cities, so they are concentrated in the Cox’s Bazar region. If they are properly addressed to proper education, health, and sanitation, I feel these groups of people can be proper manpower for the country.”
Moving on to another question, structural inequality is still an issue for women both in South Asia and Southeast Asia countries, as a woman how do you see this issue and what should we do?
“In terms of structural boundaries, we need to give the youth the freedom of choice when they can develop themselves. It should be developed from a familial stage – we need to tell our parents that you need to trust your child, irrespective of what gender they are, you need to be confident in the upbringing in the knowledge that you have given to your children, to trust them enough to the fact that no matter what gender they are, they can be confident in taking lead a happy life.”
What do you wish or expect to see in our nations’ relations in the future?
“I feel there needs to be a summer camp. Because to be honest, when you give students the opportunity to travel, that is the only way they will expose themselves to grow other interests, like probably learning the language or trying to find a new job, or working or living in different parts of the city. We [will] have people sharing information and living in different environments.