May 19, 2016 - 12:43pm
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her government’s firm commitment to breaking all barriers with a view to achieving men-women equality and said women’s empowerment is an issue very close to her heart.
She iterated the pledge while delivering the keynote speech at the Global Women Leaders’ Forum in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on Wednesday.
Woman leaders from different countries and organisations attended the event.
Hasina went there after a bilateral meeting with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, who also addressed the event.
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and Chairperson of the Council of Women in Business, Boriana Manolova, received the prime minister at the venue.
Bokova’s address kicked off the programme.
In her speech, Prime Minster Hasina said women’s participation in national development activities had firmly been embedded in Bangladesh’s national plans and budgets.
The government has formulated the National Women Development Policy, which guarantees equal opportunity for women and accords the highest priority to their education and self-reliance, she said.
Referring to women holding several key offices in the country, Hasina said Bangladesh appeared to be an ‘outstanding political role model’.
“Bangladesh is perhaps the only country in the world today that has women as prime minister and leader of the House, deputy leader of the House, leader of the opposition, and speaker,” she said.
The prime minister said in her speech that at present Bangladesh has 70 women MPs, constituting 20 percent of the House.
Highlighting her government’s initiatives towards women’s development, she said girls were being offered education for free up to the 12th grade.
Nearly 17.2 million students from primary to post-graduate levels have been brought under various stipend programmes, she added.
Hasina said her government had been giving priority to the creation of an environment conducive to work for women by ensuring them safety and, along with that, security towards guaranteeing their economic empowerment.
She said the participation of women had been growing in many sectors and professions, such as the civil service, judiciary, armed forces and other technical professions.
The prime minister said, “Women are serving in UN peacekeeping operations; women are diplomats, fighter pilots and leading business entrepreneurs.”
“Thus, women in Bangladesh have truly broken all barriers and are now active development agents in the nation-building process.”
Hasina focused on challenges in ensuring the rights and development of women.
“Despite significant advancement, we also have challenges. We are yet to fully succeed in stopping incidents of violence against women, child marriage or trafficking of women and girls,” she said.
The prime minister said her government was trying to end ‘these social evils, through a number of strict laws and administrative measures’.
“We are investing heavily in raising greater social awareness against such crimes and violence,” she said.
Hasina urged world leaders to work together to create a safer environment for women and girls, equip them with the right skills and education, and empower them as agents of social transformation.
She said, “Let us today renew our commitment to make this world a better place for all; a better place for women, where we can live with dignity, free from all fear.”
“Join me in saying, ‘We Can Do It’.”