Recognition of Mothers’ Guardianship is a Milestone in Women’s Rights and Empowerment

Hiren Pandit

The recognition of mothers’ guardianship by the current government is a milestone in the establishment of women’s rights and empowerment. The history of the women’s movement 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 its strong administrative and legal framework, and 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. Eliminating discrimination against women in all forms of education, especially increasing participation of women in higher education including primary and secondary education, and accelerating women’s empowerment was one of the main goals. Gender equality and women’s empowerment were considered as one the main issues in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets.

It is said 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.

In order to establish proper status and recognition of women in national life, the government has signed several international policies and charters including the UN CEDAW Charter. After all this, why will women be left behind? Advancing gender equality in the face of climate change impacts and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Climate change and sustainability issues have, and will continue to have serious and lasting impacts on our environment, and economic and social development. Although women have made considerable progress in the long journey of the women’s movement, the issue of gender equality has not yet been fully established. This image is visible not only in Bangladesh but everywhere in the world. But the development of the country or society depends on the overall contribution and participation of the people.

That is, the desired development is impossible without the participation of half of the society’s population. It is true that the participation of women in the state system and social activities in Bangladesh has increased, But, it is far below the desired level. Not only that, the oppression and deprivation of women have also 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.

The deprivation of women workers in the industry is a hot topic. The Dowry system, child marriage, religious superstitions, dominance of patriarchal attitudes in family life, customs, old mindsets etc. are big obstacles in the way of women’s progress. Constant efforts to overcome these are going on in the country. Various initiatives are being taken at the government and private levels. But it is not possible to completely erase the traditional social image of the time.

The country’s Prime Minister is a woman, the speaker of the national parliament is a woman, and the opposition leader is a woman. What can be a greater positive condition for the development of women? Various national and international policies, including the constitution of Bangladesh, have given special importance to women’s political-social empowerment and participation.

Different kinds of discrimination against women, and denial of their rights, but some of these have come from very real and material reasons – women have been subjected to severe oppression for ages. Many women are talented and struggle to establish their social position and status. Why doesn’t this opportunity come for all women in society? Answers to these questions are difficult to simplify. It can be said that various types of discrimination and attitudes towards women in society work behind this. Society, people’s existing view of women’s progress is like an invisible glass wall.

Women have always been subjugated, more so in some areas. The reason for this is that what is active in our minds is to keep women alive, not to give them rights. In this society, women are victims of mental abuse more than they are physically abused. She has to endure insults step by step. It is a shame that this society still does not respect women as human beings or give equal importance to women’s human rights. However, as a result of the successful implementation of various initiatives of the current government, women’s development is clearly visible today. Through the successful participation of women in business, politics, judiciary, administration, diplomacy, armed forces, law enforcement, and peacekeeping missions, the country is gradually progressing on the path of development.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman confirmed women’s equal rights in all spheres of national life in the constitution. Women have contributed to the progress and development of civilization throughout the ages with their talent and labor. So the attitude towards women is changing all over the world. Now women’s work is being valued, recognition is increasing. Bangladesh is now a role model for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Reducing discrimination against women and creating equal opportunities through gender-responsive budgeting. 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 reason, it is necessary to ensure the government’s patronage and financial allocation in the field of women’s employment creation, development as entrepreneurs and social security.

Awami League government has had many achievements in 14 years. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the government has implemented various initiatives for the development of women and children through the implementation of Vision 2021. Now the goal is to achieve the SDGs in 2030 and to achieve a developed Smart Bangladesh in 2041. For the policies, laws and regulations made for the development of women and children in the last 14 years, the government has made several laws and regulations for the development of women and children in the last 14 years. Notable among them are – the National Women’s Development Policy 2011; National Child Policy 2011; Integrated Policy on Early Childhood Care and Development 2013; Psychosocial Counseling Policy 2016 (Draft); an Action plan for implementation of National Women Development Policy 2013-2015; Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2010; Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Act, 2014; Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Regulations 2013; Child Marriage Prevention Act, 2017

There are safety vulnerable group development (VGD) programs for distressed women. With the aim of providing maternity allowance to poor mothers, assisting working lactating mothers, and creating self-employment for educated unemployed women, the National Women’s Organization has been training educated unemployed women in computer and information technology in all districts of the country. ‘Jayita’ for the development of women entrepreneurs: An attempt has been made to build a women entrepreneur-friendly separate institution gradually across the country through Jayita with the aim of marketing and marketing the products and services produced by small women entrepreneurs scattered all over the country. Multisectoral Program for Prevention of Violence against Women One-Stop Crisis Center (OCC) has been set up at many Medical College Hospitals.

Health care, police and legal assistance, psychological and social counseling, shelter services, and DNA testing facilities are provided through the OCC. The National Helpline Center for Prevention of Violence against Women and Children can call number 109 for abused women and children, their families and all concerned to know about the necessary information, advice and services available in the country. Youth clubs, construction of hostels for accommodation of working women garment workers, cultural training for the mental development of children. Prize distribution competitions have been organized for backward children including tea gardens, city corporation slums, central jails, sex villages and marginalized children.

Joy Mobile Apps Prime Minister’s Office’s Service Innovation Fund., this app is used to provide immediate assistance to women and children who are victims of torture or are at risk of torture. In the field of education, the High Court has recognized the father as well as the mother or ‘legal guardian’ in various forms related to student information. As a result, women got the recognition they deserved in society after a long waiting as a result of this judgment of the High Court, students can now fill out the form by mentioning any of these three options – father or mother, or legal guardian.

However, women’s rights activists and other relevant experts believe that this decision of the High Court is the first step in achieving women’s rights, but there is still a long way to go. There are still many steps left, including uniform family law, and property rights, which women’s rights activists are still agitating for.

This judgment is a landmark in eradicating gender discrimination practices. This judgment will play a leading role in guaranteeing the right of every person to express their identity and the right to get an education. Proper implementation of the verdict is necessary to fulfill the constitutional promise of eliminating all discrimination based on gender and to ensure the creation of an inclusive digital Bangladesh for all irrespective of gender. Besides, in many cases, the law in our country is correct, but there are complications in the implementation.

In the case of SSC under the Rajshahi Board, one student was not registered because he could not give his father’s name in the registration form. Then it was mandatory to write the name of the father and mother as guardians of the student. The writ is filed challenging this discriminatory provision. As a guardian, the name of the father and mother is still to be written at every level of the education field. In the verdict, the High Court said that all forms in the field of education, including registration, can be filled by mentioning the name of the father or mother, or legal guardian. This instruction has been given to all education boards including the Ministry of Education. As a result, the form can be filled by mentioning either identity as father or mother, or legal guardian.

The State party did not oppose this decision but rather cooperated in establishing the mother’s rights. When the writ was issued, it was mandatory to enter the father’s name as information in the guardian’s room in the case of education. Then the mother’s name had to be mentioned. Earlier in the education form, only the father’s name was included, but in 2000 the government made it mandatory to write the mother’s name there. But as a result of this judgment of the High Court, from now on only the identity of the mother will give any child the right to education.

In fact, a mother is a complete woman, who is the most suitable person in the world to conceive, give birth and raise a child. A study titled Understanding Mother’s Genetics found that a mother’s company, touch, and emotion improve a child’s IQ. A child’s intelligence depends on the mother’s genes. Studies show that how much a child’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) will improve depends on the conditioning genes. These genes the child receives from its mother. So, the mother’s claim of single-parentage is also long-standing.

In the absence of any specific legal provisions, children without parental identity have been deprived of the right to education for so long. Through the proper implementation of this landmark judgment, it will be possible to ensure the right of all children to receive education and eliminate discrimination in the field of parenting. After 51 years of independence, through a court ruling, mothers, especially single mothers, can enroll their children in educational institutions on their own. Only they can feel how comforting this verdict is for the victimized mothers. It was very difficult for them to face this social challenge. Those who have not had to go through this humiliation and indignity cannot understand how much this little gain means to them.

Fatherless children, children of sex workers whose father is not known can fill out the form only with the mother’s name. The High Court has observed that the Constitution has given equal rights to everyone, but if the father’s name is not available, a child cannot fill out the form and will not get a passport. It is against the constitution. Due to equality in the constitution, the father or mother will have the right to fill out any form or registration only if they have the identity.

As a result of this judgment, the name of the father or mother, or legal guardian can be written in SSC, HC exam form filling, and passport form filling. As a result of this ruling, there was no obligation to write the names of both parents. The form can be filled out by writing only the mother’s name.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised to achieve the SDGs in 2030 and to build a developed and smart Bangladesh in 2041, and everyone has to work towards it. In addition to economic and social liberation, we are women’s liberation; Above all, after successfully implementing the promise of building a digital Bangladesh through the struggle for human liberation, we are now moving forward with new programs. That is Smart Bangladesh. A cost-effective, sustainable, intelligent, knowledge-based, innovative Smart Bangladesh will be built on the four main foundations of Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government, and Smart Society by 2041. All the people of this country are fully prepared for this now.

Hiren Pandit is a columnist and a researcher

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