Awami League’s Manifesto Prioritized Women’s Empowerment

Hiren Pandit

Bangladesh Awami League has announced the manifesto ahead of the 12th national parliament election. The slogan of this year’s manifesto is ‘Smart Bangladesh: Development will be visible and employment will increase this time’. The ruling party has prioritized 11 issues by promising to build a smart Bangladesh. Awami League president Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the manifesto on December 27, 2023.

Regarding the transition from digital to smart Bangladesh in the manifesto, she said that technology capability is necessary to survive in the world competition in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. For this reason, it is announced to build ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by combining the four pillars of ‘Smart Citizen’, ‘Smart Government’, ‘Smart Economy’, and ‘Smart Society’. Implementation of Smart Bangladesh mentions work in each area. It has been promised to make Bangladesh a hunger-poverty-free Smart Sonar Bangla by 2041 if elected by the people.

She mentioned that the activities of women’s empowerment, gender equality, and increase in economic capacity to create a supportive environment for women’s development will continue. Rural women’s social status will be improved and opportunities to participate in labor will be increased. Necessary measures will continue to be taken for greater participation of women in industry and commerce. The effective role of ‘The Joita Foundation’ will be expanded in developing women entrepreneurs and businessmen.

Awami League President Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for boat voting again. She said, allow Awami League to serve you by voting for the boat. You vote for us, we will give you development, peace, and prosperity. Awami League has promised to form a public welfare-oriented administration and strengthen democracy in the manifesto announced ahead of the election.

The history of women’s liberation in Bangladesh is long, from the direct participation of women in the war of independence to the empowerment of women, Bangladesh’s progress is commendable. Bangladesh’s women’s movement stands on a solid foundation due to a strong administrative and legal framework, and a conscious civil society, which has played an effective role in establishing women’s rights and creating a women-friendly environment.
Bangladesh has signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) since its inception. Bangabandhu struggled throughout his life to establish the rights of the people of this country. He has taken various steps to establish the rights of women who are victims of torture, oppressed, exploited, and deprived of family, social, political, and economic rights. Bangabandhu realized that half of the total population of the country is women. The overall development of the country is not possible without them. Right after independence, in 1972, the constitution confirmed the equal rights of women.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken various steps for women’s development, women’s employment, and equal rights for women. Eliminating discrimination against women in all forms of education, especially increasing participation of women in higher education including primary and secondary education, accelerating women’s empowerment was one of the main goals.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment have been considered as one of the main issues since independence. The reason given was that gender equality and women’s empowerment will play an important role in poverty alleviation. Bangladesh has been able to reduce gender disparity in primary education and has made significant progress. A significant number of female students have also been admitted at the secondary and higher secondary levels.

Information technology literacy is playing an important role in creating gender equality. It is time to think more about ensuring women’s economic, social, cultural and environmental justice, above all human rights, in development frameworks and plans. Decent working environment and wages. To think about the new development model, we must first discuss the fair wages of workers, especially the wages of women workers. Poverty alleviation is never possible without quality working conditions and fair wages.

Women are advancing in the world; Women of Bangladesh are not left out. In particular, the use of information technology has advanced the country’s women’s society by several steps. As well as increased opportunities for empowerment. Half of the population of Bangladesh are women. Like the rest of the world, the government of Bangladesh has given special importance to involving women in the IT sector in the hope of building a digital Bangladesh.

According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 published by the World Economic Forum, Bangladesh ranks 50th among 153 countries and tops in South Asia. Utilizing the current world’s progress in the digital sector to eliminate gender inequality, so that technology to establish women’s equal rights and combat sexual violence is a democratic, humanitarian approach that is supportive and creative.

Currently, women’s participation is visible in almost all sectors of society. The attendance of girls at the primary level of education is now 100%. A majority of the achievements in the apparel industry are women. But the question arises. In Bangladesh, where women constitute 50 percent of the total population, progress is visible among very few women. Overall development of the country is not possible without the empowerment and development of women. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, progress must be made in achieving goals 5 and 10.

The main spirit of the liberation war was to build a society without discrimination. It is also reflected in the constitution of Bangladesh. Through the proper implementation of gender budgeting, great progress has been achieved in the areas of political, economic and social empowerment of women, gender equality in primary and secondary education, reduction of infant and maternal mortality, health and immunization.

Women’s development and empowerment are visible through the socio-economic progress of women. For this, it is necessary to ensure the government’s sponsorship and financial allocation in the field of women’s employment creation, development as entrepreneurs and social security. In today’s technological world, the development and use of technology have brought the people of the world closer together. As a result, economic progress has also been achieved along with increased communication.

However, since all classes of people do not have equal access to technology, the benefits of this progress have not reached all people equally. The question of how much the existing technology is women-friendly is coming to the fore. Women lag greatly in accessing and enjoying its benefits. About 55% of women are still out of technology. Technology has helped human society to turn around. Even the section of women in society who had access to technology also got this benefit.

They have shown equal skill in using technology. To be freed from unemployment, poverty, he chose various employments including technology-based entrepreneurs. Continued educational programs with the help of technology, availed various government facilities including training programs. Therefore, women’s access to technology should be increased. In the 20th century, Begum Rokeya called for the creation of a society based on gender equality, today Bangladesh is moving forward after 52 years on the path of creating that society.

Considering all aspects, it can be said without a doubt that Bangladesh is a role model for women’s empowerment in the world today. Today, Bangladesh leads the world in all the indicators that are used to evaluate women’s empowerment. The Prime Minister of the country is a woman, the speaker of the national parliament is a woman, and the leader of the opposition is a woman.

What can be a greater positive condition for the development of women’s society? Various national and international policies, including the constitution of Bangladesh, have given special importance to women’s political-social empowerment and participation. Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009 and formulated the National Women Development Policy-2011. Elected a woman to the post of Speaker of the National Parliament. Sheikh Hasina was the first in her cabinet to appoint women as Home Minister and Foreign Minister. The Deputy Leader of the Parliament is also a woman.

Some of the civil society said that if the country’s prime minister, speaker and opposition leader are women, will the empowerment of women be done? It is also true that the appointment of women in such important positions has increased the confidence of women, resulting in long-lasting and far-reaching empowerment of women. The provision of women vice chairpersons in upazila parishads and three women members in union parishads to be elected by participating in the elections has been confirmed.

Women of Bangladesh are now not only judges, district commissioners, and superintendents of police, but are performing the responsibilities of policy-making and state management with efficiency. Success in all challenging professions including education, medicine, science and technology and diplomatic skills, sports, mountaineering, and working in NASA. In Bangladesh, there are now women officials working in important government secretaries or equivalent positions, including many important ministries, which was not the case earlier.

The Sheikh Hasina government appointed the first woman as a High Court judge, the first woman Vice-Chancellor of the University, and the first woman as Major General of the Army. Although the women’s society has made considerable progress in the long journey of the women’s movement, the issue of gender equality has not yet been fully established. It is present not only in Bangladesh but all over the world. The development of the country or society depends on the overall contribution and participation of the people.

The desired development is not possible without the participation of half of the population (women) of the society. The participation of women in the state system and social activities in Bangladesh has increased, but it remains far below the desired level. Not only that, violence and deprivation of women have not been significantly reduced. The women’s society of the country is still a victim of various types of family, social and state torture deprivation. 33 percent participation of women in all fields including national politics has not yet been implemented. Empowerment of women at the local government level is not effective.

One of the indicators of women’s development is women’s participation in the workplace. Currently, the participation rate of women in the workplace is 38 percent. The backbone of the economy of Bangladesh is the garment sector. More than 70 percent of the workers in this sector are women. Again, the largest service sector in the country is healthcare. More than 70 percent of the workers in this sector are women. Women’s contribution to the domestic product (GDP) is about 20 percent. Article 19(3) of the Constitution of Bangladesh states that the state shall ensure women’s participation and equal opportunities at all levels of national life.

In addition to establishing the proper status of women, with the aim of economic, social, administrative and political empowerment, the government is implementing comprehensive programs to prevent all types of violence against women, including spreading women’s education, establishing rights, and empowering them. Women’s empowerment is considered one of the prerequisites for global development, but if we observe the development of the developed world in the global context, it can be seen that today’s developed countries are not in a very satisfactory state in terms of women’s empowerment; Rather, women in different countries are suffering from different discrimination.

However, inequality can be seen in many ways, but the main inequalities that are considered to be major barriers to development are in health and survival, participation in education, economic opportunity, and politics. Considering the overall situation, everyone says that Bangladesh is a role model for women’s development and is moving forward positively in achieving gender equality. Activities for women’s empowerment, gender equality, increasing economic capacity and creating a supportive environment for women’s development will continue.

Rural women’s social status will be improved and opportunities to participate in labor will be increased. Rural women are being trained to conduct online activities. The Awami League government has increased regional cooperation to combat trafficking in women and children, which will be more proactive and effective. Necessary measures will continue to be taken for greater participation of women in industry and commerce. The effective role of ‘The Joita Foundation’ will be expanded in developing women entrepreneurs and businessmen.

The writer is a columnist and research fellow.

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