Speakers at a program have stressed the need to provide girls with special attention during their childhood, so that they may better deal with gender discrimination in adulthood.
They further said that only gender equality can ensure that Bangladesh continues to develop.
The comments were made at the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum Meeting 2018 on Friday, held at the Shishu Academy Auditorium in Dhaka in celebration of International Women’s Day. State Minister for the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki attended the event as chief guest.
Chairman of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology at Dhaka University Mehtab Khanam said the first seven years of a child’s life were extremely important, as that is when the personality takes shape and indicates how the child would behave in adulthood.
“Women are humans first, and we need to recognize them as such,” she added.
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Khalida Khanam Akter, founder of Surjer Hasi Clinic, described how she had conducted a study which revealed that 13% of girls were short in height as their parents discriminated in their nutritional needs as opposed to that of boys.
Giving the opening speech at the event, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum Secretary Nasima Akhter Jolly said girl children needed to be given special attention and care.
“Parents should be aware of the activities of their children and be careful about their regular activities,” she added.
She also urged male children to be helpful to girls rather than unsympathetic.
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Stating that gender discrimination starts from birth, State Minister Chumki called for girls to follow the examples set by the Bangladesh prime minister, speaker of parliament and opposition party leader.
“The Bangladesh prime minister, speaker of parliament, and opposition party leader are all women. So the country is being run by women. Girl children should take lessons from these role models,” she said.
The state minister added that parents should think before discriminating against their daughters, as boys were more likely to abandon them in old age.
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She also claimed that both national and international media were fabricating news about the rising child marriage rate in Bangladesh, as it was actually decreasing due to a number of pilot projects run by the government.
Reminiscing about a girls' football match she had watched earlier, prominent poet Kazi Rozi called for the further inclusion of girls in sports, while expressing her hope that girls would represent Bangladesh in all spheres on the global stage in the future.
In addition, Speakers mentioned the newly introduced 109 hotline, saying any girl could call the number if they faced harassment.
A poster and journal titled “Narir Kotha” was also unveiled at the meeting.
National Girl Child Advocacy Forum President Shamima Akter Dolly, ATN Bangla Program Producer Najma Akter and other prominent women from various sectors were present at the event.