Speakers at the webinar discussed how women continue to face discrimination and harassment in the workplace
The Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre (BYLC) on March 6 organized a virtual webinar titled “Overcoming the Covid-19 crisis: Stories of female leadership” to mark International Women’s Day 2021.
The webinar was arranged with support from Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
It was aligned with the United Nations’ theme of “Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world”.
Emphasizing the significance of female leadership in times of crisis, BYLC celebrated the many ways that women have contributed in the fight against the pandemic.
Speakers at the webinar also discussed how women continue to face discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Celebrating the achievements of women on a single day becomes meaningless when women’s safety cannot be ensured on a regular basis, said speakers.
Banasree Mitra Neogi, gender advisor at MJF, said: “Every organization should be cognizant of how they treat their female employees.
“Just giving lip service is not enough. Organizations need to establish committees that address their female employees’ needs and issues,” she added.
Rina Akter is a former sex worker who is now a rights activist for sex workers. She has also been recognized in BBC’s 100 Women 2020 list.
“Most street sex workers were left without any work during the beginning of the pandemic. They are not eligible for voter IDs and therefore cannot own a house. Social stigma makes it impossible for them to even apply for regular jobs. They too are women but when we talk about ensuring women’s rights, their issues and concerns are never taken into consideration,” said Rina.
Lamea Tanjin Tanha, 21-year-old founder of TransEnd, said: “Gender equality cannot be ensured if the rights of transgender women are not recognized.
“Trans women are still seen with suspicion in our society. They are denied health services, education, and other basic rights. If we are to ensure an inclusive society, we need to make sure that trans people are given the same privileges and the same access to facilities that the rest of society enjoys,” she added.
Laila Tasmia, a gender and development expert, shed light on the discrimination women face at home and beyond.
“Instead of asking how society can provide a safe space for girls and women, we force them to limit their potential. Even today, girls are perceived as possessions to be confined within four walls,” she said.
Esrat Karim Eve, founder of AMAL Foundation said: “The goal should be to create an environment where women feel secure and can reach their full potential without fear of external or internal threats.”