Her Independence of Spirit: Rabita Tareque

Passionate, driven and ambitious – these are the words that comes across your mind when you take a look at Rabita Tareque’s Instagram page. She’s unquestionably making moves in the world at having just left her teenage years, she’s self assured and armed with a vision to make a difference in the world.

The 20 year old currently majors in International Relations and minors in Public Policy & Public Affairs at City College of New York, which is a stretch from her home in Bangladesh where she grew up, where issues like corruption, poverty and patriarchy have been normalised for decades.

“While growing up, I did not see anybody from my community, especially the youth speaking up against issues like gender inequality and poverty. I would watch political discussions on TV shows and news, but I was unable to relate to the people behind the microphones The voices of children and youth were always missing in discussions, as if we did not exist or our futures were not in danger. The reason behind our missing voices, was the fear of oppressive system.”

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“I wanted to change that and refused to give in to fear. That is exactly why I am the 20 year old who wants to be the voice and the role model of the youth in my community. I aspire to speak up, inspire and advocate an entire generation that are in need of resources and opportunities to make their voices count.”

At college, she went on to start the United Nations Association chapter which had students getting involved to advocate issues in the world. As the President, she works to engage young people through various events, fundraisers and conferences at United Nations HQ.

That is exactly why I am the 20 year old who wants to be the voice and the role model of the youth in my community. I aspire to speak up, inspire and advocate an entire generation

With aspirations to become a United Nations diplomat, she’s also part of the UN Women task force group on youth and gender equality and a member of the local grassroots organisation, DRUM (Desi’s Rising Up & Moving), which allows the South Asian community to come together and advocate for institutional injustice, immigration, gender equality and worker rights.

However, trying to make an impact as a young Muslim woman comes with its difficulties, especially at a time like now after Trump’s recent election as the 45th President of the United States, where Islamophobia has unfortunately become a predominantly large issue affecting the livelihood of many Muslims in society:

“I have been on the front-lines on immigration rights, gender equality and worker rights. Unfortunately, being a Muslim in America this equivalents to being in the “front-lines” of extremism, which completely alienates me and my potential to work towards making a difference in our society.”

“Starting from world leaders to mass media, anybody from minority groups like myself often gets reduced down to certain issues and policies, instead of being recognised for their valuable work. In current times, my community is constantly being used as a tool for surveillance and that affects my true potential in working for a greater good.The Muslim community is one of many groups that are facing bigotry and hate.”

Anybody from minority groups like myself often gets reduced down to certain issues and policies, instead of being recognised for their valuable work

Undeterred from her vision, she finishes on on a hopeful and positive note “I believe in speaking out against injustice for all and not just the community I come from. As a result, I strongly advocate for building coalition between every community because rhetorical hate does not just hurt Muslims, but America as a whole. I truly believe that building better understanding of faith and communicating with different cultural communities can eliminate bigotry once and for all.”

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