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Expectations on women’s issues in election manifestos

  • Published at 11:04 am December 8th, 2018
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Defeated parties can act as a pressure group for realizing empowerment of women

Political parties are busy creating an attractive election manifesto for the upcoming 11th parliamentary election. 

A few manifestos have already been released, but the heavyweight political parties and alliances are taking their time to make it perfect.

Evaluating a number of manifestos, women’s leaders said there have been enough discussions regarding the empowerment of women, but now it is the time to implement it properly.

The leaders expect that parties defeated in the polls can still act as a pressure group for implementation of women empowerment.  

Awami league

Ruling Awami League is working on a draft election manifesto, but it has not been finalized yet. 

Dr Selim Mahmud, member of a sub-committee for preparing the manifesto, said: “The manifesto will feature important issues centring empowerment and development of women across Bangladesh.”

Reiterating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s exemplary contributions for empowering the women of Bangladesh, he said: “The manifesto will reflect the philosophy of women moving forward.”

Oikya Front

According to sources from the Oikya Front, it will implement a system so that the women can contest the polls in equal footing with their male counterparts, by getting rid of reserved seats.

In their manifesto, Oikya Front reveals a policy to implement a provision ensuring mandatory 20% nomination for women aspirants. However, the party plans to keep 10% seat reserved for women for at least the next two general elections. 

Oikya Front will also make loans available for building more day care facilities.

Bangladesh Communist Party

Bangladesh Communist Party’s manifesto promises to focus on social security of women. As part of the initiative, the party will actively work to resolve issues such as inequality, gender bias, equal rights and wages in the financial sector and family inheritance laws.

Confirming that People’s Solidarity Movement (Ganosamhati Andolon) is working on finalizing its manifesto, Coordinator Junaid Abdur Rahim Saki said: “The manifesto will focus on formulating laws to ensure equal rights for women.

“Issues such as women’s security, sexual harassment and introducing sexual harassment prevention education to the students will be present in the manifesto. We aim to ensure women’s equality in both the legal and constitutional premise.”

He added that the party has plans to introduce reforms for boosting women’s participation in social, political and economical activities. 

What are the NGOs saying?

Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) Director Rokeya Kabir said: “We have been campaigning for amending inheritance laws in favour of women and formation of an anti-equality commission.

“The time for promises have long passed, we want clear directions on ensuring empowerment of women and legal protection. The manifestos must have clear directions on how a level playing field will be ensured for women in all sectors, not just only in the polls.”

She continued: “If a party is defeated in the election, it should work as a pressure group for realizing the abovementioned issues related to women. We expect clear directions from these political parties, not vague promises.”

Meanwhile, Khushi Kabir, coordinator of non government organization Nijera Kori, said: “We have been campaigning on a more favourable inheritance law for women. 

“Political parties that have plans to tackle this issue should clearly mention how these laws will be amended in their manifestos and what actions they will take to tackle it. We do not want promises, we want implementation.”

She further said: “Women’s contributions in household work must be included in the economical sector of the country. Wage gap between male and female workers needs to be addressed.

“We want to know what steps these political parties are taking in those sectors.”