Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marked International Women’s Day on Thursday by saying Bangladesh will move faster towards prosperity if the men and women of the country can work together on an equal footing.
“Bangladesh’s women have proved that they can achieve any success like their male counterparts,” the prime minister said in her address at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).
“The women of Bangladesh have already proved themselves, which the women of many developed and civilized countries have failed to do. Bangladeshi women have showed they can,” she said.
She urged the women of the country to continue to move forward with confidence and dignity.
“Our aim is to make Bangladesh prosperous and poverty-free,” she said. “To make that happen, we are working to give women proper scope to flourish based on their merits and talents.
“They’ll grow up with all human qualities, move in the world arena with dignity, and compete with others coping with the pace of the world.”
To underscore her point, Sheikh Hasina highlighted the high profile roles performed by women in Bangladesh.
In addition to her own position as prime minister, she said women fill the key political roles of both the leader and deputy leader of the house, a whip, and the leader of the opposition - although she neglected to mention that BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has recently begun a five-year jail term for fraud.
“The trend of participation of women in politics has increased to a great extent due to initiatives of the present government,” the prime minister said, before stressing the need for developing women in leadership roles at the grassroots level.
“30% of seats in local government bodies, such as union and upazila parishads, municipalities and city corporations, have been kept reserved for women,” she said. “Women are playing an important role in decision making while they are working to utilize the opportunities there,” she said.
Hasina said women were carving out successful careers in every sphere of life in Bangladesh and are now at an equal level to their male counterparts in fields such as education, sport and art.
“Bangladesh’s women are now in very high position of all sectors like the administration, judiciary, education, administration, as well as in the armed forces and in law-enforcement agencies,” she said.
Hasina also recalled the role of her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in upholding the dignity of women, especially the mothers and sisters who were tortured by Pakistani occupation forces and their local cohorts during the 1971 struggle for independence.
“Many parents did not accept their daughters who were violated during the War of Liberation,” the prime minister said.
“Bangabandhu arranged the marriage of those girls and told my mother to write his name [Sheikh Mujibur Rahman] as the father and Dhanmondi 32 as their address for those girls who did not want to disclose their identities,” she said.
Thursday’s function celebrating International Women’s Day was arranged by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, with State Minister Meher Afroz Chumki in the chair.
A documentary on women development in Bangladesh was screened while the artistes of Shilpakala Academy put on a cultural performance.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh Mia Seppo was the special guest and Women and Children Affairs Secretary Nasima Begum delivered the welcome address.
Earlier, the prime minister distributed “Joyeeta” awards among the winners for their achievements in life.