Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for forging an alliance to support and uphold the rights of millions of women in need around the world.
"Together, we must act on our shared culture, tradition and values to benefit millions of women in need. Let's mobilize our strength. I particularly count on all of you," she said on Friday.
The prime minister was delivering her statement at the gala dinner of Global Women's Leadership Award in the 2018 Global Summit of Women at the Ballroom of International Conference Centre in Sydney, Australia after receiving this year’s award.
She also placed her four-point proposal before her audience to improve the existing condition of women around the world.
Those include overcoming traditional gender stereotypes regarding women's ability and reaching out to marginal and vulnerable women who are still less fed, not schooled, underpaid and violated, and leaving no woman and girl behind.
Her two other points are enhancing women’s productivity by addressing health hazards specific to women and creating equal opportunities for women in all sectors of life and livelihoods.
The prime minister said she was highly delighted and deeply honoured to receive the Global Women’s Leadership Award and dedicated the award to the women across the world, who have shown their might in changing their lots.
About the contribution of women towards building Bangladesh, Hasina said the Bangali nation earned independence in 1971 through a nine-month-long bloody war with Pakistani occupation forces under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“Women played a significant role in every nationalist movement from the Language Movement beginning in 1948 to the War of Liberation in 1971. Two hundred thousand women lost their dignity in the war,” she said.
Soon after Bangladesh’s independence, Hasina said, Bangabandhu established the Women Rehabilitation Centre to rehabilitate the women war victims. “We have honoured them as ‘Birangana’ (War Heroines).”
She said Bangladesh’s constitution, introduced by Bangabandhu in 1972, provides: “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and of public life,” which is the bedrock of women empowerment in Bangladesh.
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“Bangabandhu made girls education free up to Class VIII and preserved 10% quota for females in government jobs,” she said.
Recalling her struggle and experience in realizing people’s rights, particularly women’s empowerment in Bangladesh, Hasina said her father along with 18 family members was assassinated in 1975. “My sister and I survived the massacre as we were in Germany.”
Following the atrocities, she said, “We were prevented from returning home and spent six years in exile. After returning home in 1981, I focused on working for economic and political emancipation of the people.”
Hasina went on saying: “My party, Bangladesh Awami League, was voted to power in 1996. We were re-elected in 2008 and again in 2014, and we got the opportunity to establish a fair, rights-based, gender sensitive and pragmatic Bangladesh. Bangladesh has now emerged as a role model of women empowerment.”
She said the World Economic Forum’s 2017 report said Bangladesh was 47th among 144 countries and first in South Asia in terms of gender equality. Bangladesh also ranks seventh among 155 countries in the political empowerment of women.
Earlier, a description on the prime minister, her life and activities towards women empowerment was presented and a short video was screened at the program.