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My family immigrated to the UK in 1972 from Bangladesh.  I was born in West Yorkshire 1976. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I have lived in Hackney since 1986 and I moved to Tower Hamlets in 1997 after an arranged marriage.

My life can only be described as a journey in which I have experienced many ups and downs that have made me a strong, confident and independent woman.

I have always felt I have a purpose in life and I want to live and not just exist.

My upbringing was restricted to say the least, being a Muslim family growing up in UK have faced numerous obstacles in life.  I encountered racism in primary school age which made me realise that I am different and should accept it.  My parents were very sexist and did not at first allow me to go to college to further my education. Although, my brothers were always pushed to do well, it was instilled in us sisters that girls get married so there is no point educating them and if girls get too educated then it will hard to find educated grooms! 

But from a young age I wanted to do something and not just become a housewife at 16/17 years old, like my parents did and expected me to do with their pre-historic and stubborn ideals.  My journey through primary and secondary school enhanced my curiosity to learn, as I came across some fantastic female teachers who encouraged me and told me I could achieve anything I wanted by hard work and determination.

I fought very hard and stood up against my rather strict and sexist father, who openly believed that “a women’s place is in the home”.  He did finally give in with conditions of trust, I was told if I got into any trouble with boys I would be taken to Bangladesh and married off.

With this new found freedom I excelled in college and received high grades in acquiring a BTEC National Business and Finance Diploma.  My most rewarding memory was my father seeing my certificate and grades.  For the first time in his life he said “I am proud of you”.

Now 18 years old I wanted to experience work and again had to fight to convince my father who was adamant I should be married off now that he had allowed me to go to college!  I did agree to an arranged marriage as long as I had to opportunity to make the final decision on the prospective groom, which surprisingly he agreed to.  I have to give him credit for that he did not force me into marrying anyone and I had the opportunity to say no to the endless photos that were shown to me.  Obviously, I did take advantage of this time and went to work as an Accounts Assistant at Financial Times Information in the City. Worked there and progressed very quickly with a promotion within 6 months and developed a love for the business of Administration.

At 20, I could not delay any longer, I had to give up work as it was not customary for girls to work, at that time and agreed to an arranged marriage and moved to Tower Hamlets. For 13 years I have looked after my in-laws family, had 2 children and became ‘the housewife’.

Since 2009 my children are in full-time education and I have joined City Gateway Womens’ Project as an Admin Volunteer and re-started my drive to learn and be a part of something worthwhile. 

At CGWP I have gained recent experience of life in a busy office, learnt to touch-type and am currently studying Introduction to Journalism, Documentary & Media and Photography.

I have no resentments in my life and am very grateful for all the opportunities that have made me who I am today.

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