Dhaka, Mar 09: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday called upon the country’s womenfolk to achieve power with their own ability as the government has ensured their equal opportunities in various sectors to empower them.“Though we have given them (women local representatives) power, they cannot apply it. I would like to tell them, who are now in charges (of local government bodies), they need to achieve the power with their own capabilities as none will hand over it to them,” she said.
Referring to the government initiatives to empower women in politics, she said her government has made reserved one-third seats for women in the local body elections such as unions, Upazilas, and municipalities alongside a seat for woman vice-chairman in Upazilas as they can perform specific responsibility.
The premier was speaking at a function as the chief guest arranged by Ministry of Women and Children Affairs on the occasion of International Women’s Day, 2019 at Bangabandhu International Conference centre here.
“Women have been playing a significant role in politics, judiciary, armed forces, police, administration, education, trade and commerce, sports and games, and adventures,” Sheikh Hasina said, adding that women in many cases outnumbered men particularly in education and sports.
In this context, the premier recalled the contribution of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, saying that Bangabandhu started the process of uplifting women by establishing their equal rights with men in all spheres of the state and public life as a constitutional obligation.
The women had no scope to enter judiciary in line with the Pakistani laws but Bangabandhu paved the way for them in joining judiciary after annulling the Pakistani laws, she mentioned.
Sheikh Hasina also remembered Bangamata Begum Sheikh Fazilatun Nesa Mujib’s contribution to this end, saying “She (Bangamata) worked for the country along with Bangabandhu all the time by giving him inspiration, courage and suggestions.”
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki chaired the meeting, while UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Bangladesh Mia Seppo was present at the function as the special guest.
Women and Children Affairs Secretary Kamrun Nahar delivered the welcome address.
This year’s theme of the day is – ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’.
At the function, a documentary on the government’s development activities for the women was screened.
The premier also stressed the need for working together of men and women saying, “Half of the population of our country is women. So we cannot prosper keeping this population behind.”
Nowadays, women become successful everywhere including state management, administrating parliament, top positions in police, judiciary, military force, health, engineering, business even flying planes due to government’s pragmatic and timely measures, she rejoiced.
Highlighting her government’s initiatives to include womenfolk in the mainstream of the country’s development, the premier said, “The government framed the ‘National Women Development Policy-2011’ and adopted the ‘National Action Plan-2013’ for implementation of the policy.”
“We’ve increased maternity leave from 3 months to 6 months with salary and introduced the provision to keep mother’s name along with father’s name in every aspect,” she said, adding that gender budget of Taka 1,37,742 crore has been allocated in 2018-2019 fiscal.
Describing financial solvency as a key for women empowerment, she said, the Awami League government made sixty percent posts of primary school teachers mandatory reserved for women aimed at making them economically solvent.
As the women can do their jobs without any hindrance, the premier said: “We are mulling of setting up hostels for working women at district and upazila levels alongside building daycare centre for taking care of their babies”.
“We have already set up eight women hostels having the capacity of accommodating 19,929 working women and 94 daycare centres with facilities of giving necessary services to 36,183 children of working mothers,” she continued.
The government has established a foundation namely ‘Joyeeta’ to promote women in businesses and entrepreneurship, she said.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned social awareness is necessary to stop disparity and violence against women with enacting laws.
She said, “The government has enacted necessary laws with a view to protecting the women and children from all types of violence. But, the laws only cannot stop the menace. Social awareness is needed in this regard.”
She, however, referred to the laws including ‘Women and Children Repression Prevention Act- 2000’, ‘Women & Children Repression Prevention Act-2003(Amended)’, the ‘Mobile Court Act-2009’ ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act-2017’, Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010, ‘DNA Act- 2014’ and ‘Dowry Restraint Act-2018’in this perspective.
A toll free national helpline 109 has also been introduced to prevent women and children abuse, she informed.
“In order to prevent domestic violence against women, 67 one-stop-crisis centers alongside the establishment of women abuse resistance cells and women assistance programs in 6 divisions have been introduced to ensure quick justice to victim women,” she also said.
About 4,883 adolescent clubs has been formed across the country for positive changes in the lifestyle of teenage girls and boys, she noted.
Regarding women success in sports, the premier said, “Our girls didn’t lag behind in sports either. Our girls became undefeated champions in Jockey-club girls’ international tournament, Hong Kong’s in 2018”.
She also said the national women team qualified for the ICC World T20 cricket in 2020 while Bangladesh women football team also qualified for the ‘FIFA under-17’ which will be held in Thailand in September 2019.
Earlier, the prime minister handed over “Joyeeta Sammanana” to five women for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields.
The recipients are Parul Akhter, Anamika Thakur Shilpi, Begum Razia Mahmud, Hasna Begum, and Shakera Begum Banu.