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Sunday, August 24, 2014, Bhadra 9, 1421, Shawal 27, 1435 Hijr

Exclusitve Interview: UN consultant suggests harder efforts for tobacco control
Banani Mallick
Publish Date : 2014-08-24,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 166
Dr Mira Aghi, a UN consultant who has worked on different issues relating to development, recently came to Bangladesh. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, she talked about the status of Tobacco Control efforts in Bangladesh as well as the impact of Meena Cartoon on the development of girl child.
Recipient of several Indian and international awards, Mira Aghi has Ph.D degree on Psychology from the Loyola University of Chicago, USA. Apart from that she received training on developing television programmes for children and had attended 'Communication Research and Production' conducted by Dr AD Palmer in New York.
Moreover, she worked with UNESCO, HIV/AIDS, Drug Abuse and Youth Development as consultant for a long time. She also served as consultant to UNDP, UN Women, Unicef, UNFPA, and WHO.    
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Observer she said Bangladesh government has achieved tremendous success in the area of Tobacco Control, but still some loopholes in the law need to be plugged for proper implementation of the Tobacco Control Act. She said to make the law effective the most important tools will be graphic health warnings on all tobacco packets.
Mira Aghi said the tobacco companies are mainly responsible for slow implementation of the law. She suggested that for the implementation of the existing laws all provisions should be put to work together.
A large number of people are involved in cultivation of tobacco. The tobacco companies say if this business is stopped then they will become jobless. This she felt was a lame excuse.
The excerpts of the interview are as follows:
Daily Observer:  You have worked as the director of creative research, on the Meena Communications which aimed at changing the behaviour and attitudes of the people in South Asian countries towards the girl child. Do you think this project has brought about any change in the mindset of people in South Asia?
Mira Aghi: Of course, it brought a great change. In Bangladesh, when I talked to a group of mothers about equal treatment of their kids, they started talking to me about the Meena episode "Dividing the mango" equally between Meena and her brother. In South Asia, there is a tradition of giving more care and love to sons more than the daughters. To break this tradition the Meena cartoon put emphasis on equal treatment of both boys and girls to give the message that girls and boys all are equal and they should be treated equally in every regard.
This group of mothers shared their feelings with me, that after watching this episode they were determined they would give equal treatment to their boys and girls.
Daily Observer:  Why do we not see any other animation initiative like the Meena Communications?
Mira Aghi: Well, we have different plans and projects, we will introduce other animations like Meena Communications in future as a tool to make people aware of and conscious about many things including health, dowry and others.
Daily Observer:  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina very recently for the first time attended a girl summit in London, where she mentioned the issue of early marriage as a big problem in South Asia. Do you think Meena can be used as means to prevent it?
Mira Aghi: Definitely. Let me tell you that one of the episodes of Meena Cartoon was focused on early marriage. And it talked about how it was very difficult for the parents to defer early marriage of their daughters, but through the Meena a message was given that a daughter should not be married off until she is 18. And it also gave other pieces of information, such as if a girl is married in her early age, she is thrown into lots of problems including the danger that she can die during the time of childbirth. Through the Meena, we also addressed the problem of dowry. The great effect of the film was the boys started thinking that they would not take dowry from the girl's family and they realized that taking dowry was not a good practice and both the families came to an agreement that no dowry would be given or taken.

?The rest of inverview will be published tomorrow

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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