The organizations voiced a 17-point demand to address discrimination against women
Several organizations and people from all walks of life on Monday observed International Women’s Day and paid tribute to the women on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a virtual program to mark the day, 67 organizations working for gender equality under the banner of Samajik Protirodh Committee (Social Resistance Committee) voiced their 17-point demand to address discrimination against women.
The slogan for the event was “Stop violence against women during Covid-19, ensure women in leadership to achieve equality.” Participants in the event observed a minute’s silence in memory of the late Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Ayesha Khanam and freedom Fighter Bula Osman.
Samapika Halder from the Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh read out the declaration, which included calls to ensure justice in cases of violence, harassment and rape without delay and proper implementation of laws.
“Criminals should not be given political shelter. At the same time, the practice of arranging marriages of the victims with their rapists should be banned,” she said.
She also urged the authorities to follow High Court orders to avoid the two-finger test with a rape survivor and to start an online complaint lodging platform for women.
Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha Executive Director Rokeya Kabir said many women lost their jobs during the pandemic and the load of unpaid work had increased.
“Although many women worked on the frontlines, they still had to face domestic violence. There are laws to prevent violence and bring the perpetrators to justice, but we are yet to see any implementation,” she said.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said: “We have to change our mentality. Women’s participation in education has increased, but development goals have not been met yet.”
She urged the authorities concerned to ensure accountability in women’s issues.
Chandan Kumar Laheri, program coordinator of Steps Towards Development, expressed the fear that many female students would be forced to drop out because of the pandemic.
“We need to stand by female students and female contenders in local government elections. We need women in leadership positions, as the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to erase the progress made through years of struggle.”
Women for Women Vice President Rasheda Akter Khanom also addressed the program, among others.
Dr Fauzia Moslem, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, presided over the session.