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Dhaka Tribune

Rubana Huq: Empowering women a strategic necessity

  • ‘We must accelerate our efforts to bridge the gender gap’
  • Emphasized the urgency of accelerating investment in women
Update : 21 Mar 2024, 08:56 PM

Rubana Huq, vice-chancellor of the Asian University for Women, has said that empowering women is a “strategic necessity for global progress, not just a moral imperative”.

“Data consistently show that investing in women yields high returns in economic growth, GDP, social development, and sustainability,” she said.

“We must accelerate our efforts to bridge the gender gap. By harnessing the full potential of women, we unlock solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.”

Rubana, also a former president of the garment exporters association BGMEA, was speaking at a roundtable discussion on “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” organized by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) on Thursday.

This was the 9th episode of UNOPS’s monthly roundtable discussion series, SDG Café, dedicated to addressing pressing development challenges and co-creating innovative solutions.

Actress Azmeri Haque Badhon also spoke.

UNOPS said Rubana Huq's address emphasized the urgency of accelerating investment in women, drawing from her extensive experience in academia and business leadership.

Badhon, known for her impactful advocacy on women's rights and social issues, brought a fresh perspective to the conversation, inspiring attendees with her passionate remarks.

Country Manager of UNOPS in Bangladesh Sudhir Muralidharan acknowledged the gravity of the situation and the crucial need for collaborative efforts.

He said: "As we commemorate International Women's Day 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment. Recent data underscores the urgency of our mission: globally, women continue to face significant barriers to full participation in society and the economy.”

According to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2023, at the current rate of progress, it will take 162 years to close the Political Empowerment gap, 169 years for Economic Participation and Opportunity, and 16 years for Educational Attainment.

Despite progress, South Asia still lags, with only 63.4% gender parity achieved. While countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka show promise, others struggle to keep pace.

As UNOPS country manager, Sudhir Muralidharan said that he is committed to accelerating efforts to bridge these divides and ensure a future where every individual, regardless of gender, can thrive and prosper with dignity.

“Let's unite to transform these statistics into stories of progress and equality."

Azmeri Haque Badhon said: "As an actress, my journey has been enriched by projects like 'Rayhana Mariam Noor', 'Khufiya' and so on, where I've had the privilege to delve into complex narratives that spotlight the resilience and strength of women.”

“These films not only showcase the diverse experiences of Bangladeshi women but also challenge societal norms surrounding gender roles,” she added.

“In my personal life, I've encountered both triumphs and challenges including getting the legal guardianship of my daughter and navigating the expectations placed on women in the entertainment industry. However, each experience has only fueled my determination to advocate for gender equality on and off the screen.”

The roundtable discussion sought to facilitate investment in women and address the gender gap in Bangladesh and beyond.

Stakeholders including government representatives, international organizations, and development partners like the Department of Women Affairs (DWA), Armed Forces Division (AFD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), UN agencies, academics, and emerging local entrepreneurs attended the roundtable.

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