Third Space Feminism

Prose and Stories

Trishia is a feminist organizer and a foresight strategist from Bangladesh. In 2011, she founded Meye  Network, a feminist grassroots organizing platform, as a response to gender discrimination in the  workplace, while she was working as an engineer in Dhaka. The platform evolved organically through the  solidarity, leadership, and entrepreneurship of Bangla-speaking women, and expanded its horizon to  other forms of marginalization intersecting with gender. Trishia holds a Master’s degree in Strategic  Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University. Her final research project for the Master’s investigated  how women-centric digital spaces could act as third spaces and impact the future of gender equity with  women in a patriarchal society. The research findings led to the origination of OGNIE, a service-focused  project to provide life-centric solutions to gender-specific problems. Third Space Feminism (TSF) is her  story that encompasses the inception of her activism ten years ago, and the future she envisions to attain  through her lived and learned experiences as an activist and designer.


I would like to call my story Third Space Feminism (TSF). It was the title of my final research project for  the master’s at OCAD University. The title encompasses the inception of my activism ten years ago, and  the future I envision. I am a feminist organizer and a foresight strategist from Bangladesh. In 2011, I  founded Meye Network, a feminist grassroots organizing platform, as a response to gender discrimination  in the workplace, while I was working as an engineer in Dhaka. The platform evolved organically through  the solidarity, leadership, and entrepreneurship of Bangla-speaking women, and expanded its horizon to  other forms of marginalization intersecting with gender. In 2018, I left my job and life in Dhaka and went  to Canada to pursue a master’s degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI). Because I wanted to  find a future for Meye Network that had a lasting impact on the gender landscape of Bangladesh.  

My story started with a utopia. When the surrounding reality feels too hostile to thrive, I tend to create  an imaginary perfect world for myself. My parents did the same for me while I was growing up as a girl in  a patriarchal society, and my school did that for all girls for twelve long years. Finally, that is what I did  with Meye Network where we, the women created a utopian bubble to allow ourselves to believe in a  present that did not exist, to reach a future that was absent yet attainable. The platform started with my rage and gathered momentum with stories of other women, growing into a safe space where people  connected through love, equality, empathy, respect, and friendship. As the platform expanded and  started interacting with the world outside, we started facing the question – How do you survive in a world  that does not believe in your utopia?  

I faced the same question when I stepped into the real world as a young adult looking for a job. Some  employers would reject my application because of my gender. Some would say I could not do the jobs  involving field visits as a woman. Some would ask if my parents would be okay with me traveling for work.  What if my husband did not ‘allow me’ after I got married? What if people refused to accept a woman in  a certain professional role? I was thrilled for a few months after landing a job in a small company headed  by a woman until I realized that patriarchy is gender-neutral. My boss would often exert power declaring  herself a man and stating her preference for men at the workplace since women had ‘limitations’ like  menstruation, denying me access to a toilet during my period. I was baffled and angry. I needed an outlet  for my inconsolable rage and answers to questions that no one would answer.  

It was in June 2011. Already two and a half years in the blogging ecosystem of Bangladesh, I was exposed  to the sexual innuendos and sexist languages in digital spaces. I was seeking a space where I could speak  to other women about gender-based abuse and discrimination. Not having found any such spaces, I  decided to create one myself. That is when I started Meye (girl/woman in Bangla) as a group on Facebook.  I did not have any visions yet. All I wanted was to speak and ask questions. I invited all the women I knew  from all walks of life to join the dialogue.  

The group became more relevant with every passing day as more women joined and I moved to a bigger  company. Everything from the job responsibilities to the office space was gendered. Women would be  reminded of their gender identity at every step. Many women would even use that to their advantage, by  accepting less significant responsibilities and gender segregation, which seemed to be an established  norm everywhere I went to work. The group seemed to be a sanctuary from the patriarchal world. We,  the women of Meye discovered that we were a bunch of misfits in a patriarchal society who had the same  adventures and anger, seeking refuge in the group from the hostility of the real world. Through our stories,  Meye evolved organically, growing beyond the boundaries of a group and turning into a network of seven  thousand women battling discrimination in Bangladesh.

When I started Meye, I never imagined that it could come this far. Meye has been a tremendous journey  from ‘I’ to ‘us.’ Whatever ‘we’ did in the first eight years, was out of instinct and desperate need. We  never followed anyone’s footsteps because we did not know where we were headed. We only had  ourselves, our stories, pain, anger, failures, strength, and dreams. We listened to our hearts and created  a new path for ourselves, uniting our voices to resonate together for a stronger impact. Eight years later,  I left home with a unified dream of finding a future for that utopia of grassroots social activism. 

Having an academic background in a highly technical field and the experience of activism with a feminist  focus, I was looking for an interdisciplinary program that would allow me to weave through the  intersections and design a brighter lens for the future. I chose SFI because I wanted to understand the  design and the future of an organization that originates from digital space, evolves organically, and makes  a difference in a patriarchal ecosystem through mass participation. Third Space Feminism was my  research, rooted in urban Bangladesh, involving adult women and men from Dhaka, the capital. Through  the research, I wanted to understand if spaces like Meye Network made any sense and if they had a role  to play in changing the reality of gender in Bangladesh. I investigated how women-centric spaces could  act as ‘third spaces’, an alternative space generated through conflict and marginalization, and envision a  meaningful feminist future. 

I had started the research with the assumption that I needed to find a way for the sustainability of women centric digital spaces like Meye Network to sustain collaborative storytelling with women. In the end, I  realized it was the unstable nature of such spaces that facilitated spontaneous changes towards the  future. I was convinced that the agility and openness of a conscious feminist third space should never be  confined to any structure for the sake of sustainability. Because a third space needs to be open to organic  changes. It needs to remain a fertile environment in which participants can combine diverse knowledge  into new insights and plans for action. A feminist third space needs to sustain a flexible, interactive, and  intersectional point where marginalized voices unite and evolve with the goal of a collective change in a  patriarchal society. 

Through TSF, I discovered the power of invisible leaders arising from women-centric digital spaces who  would blend in the background and enable change without any tangible reward system. I found hopes of  alignment and alliances beyond the boundaries of communities and organizations through passive  communications across different kinds of third spaces. I discovered that the feminist third spaces in digital  platforms hinted at the tip of the iceberg to a deep-rooted and persisted failure of women empowerment  in Bangladesh. They indicated the necessity of a radical shift in worldview and metaphors of patriarchy  for a long-term change. I realized through the study that a feminist digital third space like Meye Network  could inspire a cultural shift by creating a channel for the participation of marginalized voices, existing  players, and other platforms through dialogues and actions, despite the risks from the state and the  fundamentalist groups.  

Meye Network had taught me how much power stories hold. I believe, our lived experiences are the  testimony of our struggles and dreams. However, the research helped me get past my biases and change  my worldview on sustainability. I was surprised to find out how Meye Network had shifted away from its  initial focus of gender equity to sustain its business model in the previous years. I realized that an organic  network has its own life. I decided to let Meye Network evolve on its own and let myself grow with it. I  started OGNIE (Organising Gender Narratives for Inclusivity and Equity) to complement Meye’s core vision  of combating gender discrimination with visible impact. OGNIE is going to gather lived experiences of  gender-based injustice and design a gender-inclusive future through storytelling and design thinking.  Currently, OGNIE is working towards creating gender-sensitive toilets at workplaces. I chose to start with  toilets because it has been found to be a persistent point of discrimination and rejection at the intersection of private and public places in Bangladesh. I aim to start creating physical impact through  OGNIE from the toilet for women that was denied to me ten years ago which led to the origination of  Meye Network. I hope OGNIE will act as an anchor for women-centric feminist third spaces to keep the  focus of my activism fixed while making room for change.


Trishia is a feminist organizer and a foresight strategist from Bangladesh. In 2011, she founded Meye Network, a feminist grassroots organizing platform, as a response to gender discrimination in the workplace. In 2018, Trishia went to Canada to pursue a master’s in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University. Her final research project for the master’s investigated the reality and plausible futures of women-centric digital spaces in a patriarchal society. The research inspired the origination of OGNIE, a service-focused project to provide life-centric solutions to gender-specific problems, which Trishia initiated after coming back to Bangladesh in 2020.

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