PM pledges to raise women’s participation in workforce to 50pc

Published: 2 October 2020, 8:30 PM

Post Desk : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has pledged to increase women’s participation in the workforce to 50-50 by 2041 and called
for protecting their job in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister also urged the international community to renew its
commitments and enhance efforts to ensure women’s equality, empowerment and
advancement.

“In the context of COVID-19, the job of female workers, including migrant
workers, across the global supply chains and other major employment sectors,
must be protected so that they are not further marginalized and financially
excluded,” she said while highlighting three issues virtually at a high-level
meeting in the United Nations headquarters in New York last night.

The High-Level Meeting on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World
Conference on Women was held on the sidelines of the 75th UN General Assembly
(UNGA).

While pointing out two other issues, the premier said firstly, the world
can benefit from every girl whose potential is realized, from every woman
whose talent is tapped, and this can only be done through education.

“Secondly, empowerment comes with income and employment. Therefore,
engaging women in income-generating activities should be a priority,” she
said.

The prime minister said she is delighted to join the celebration of the
25th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women. “On this 25th
anniversary, I would like to pledge to raise women’s participation in the
workforce leading to 50-50 by 2041,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the Covid-19 pandemic has particularly aggravated the
vulnerability of women.

“During this pandemic, women are facing discrimination and increased
domestic violence, and, therefore, threatening to reverse our hard-earned
achievements in women empowerment,” she said.

She said the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action charted a
bold roadmap to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“It has profoundly changed our outlook towards women and catalyzed
positive development,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said since then, almost all countries formulated legislative
frameworks for the promotion and protection of women and girls. The 2030
Agenda also recognized women’s centrality across all the goals and targets.

“As we enter the Decade of Action, we must renew our commitments and
enhance our efforts to ensure women’s equality, empowerment and advancement,”
she said.

The prime minister thanked the UN Secretary General for prioritizing
women’s representation at senior levels of the UN, saying: “We would like to
see that at all levels.”

Turning to Bangladesh’s tremendous development in women empowerment,
Sheikh Hasina said immediately after independence, Father of the Nation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman placed women at the heart of the country’s
development agenda.

The prime minister said under Bangabandhu’s legendary statesmanship, the
country crafted a progressive constitution guaranteeing equal rights for men
and women.

“Our development intervention, which is based on a whole-of-society
approach, focuses more on the practical need of our women,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina continued: “That’s why we have made girls’ education a
priority, economic and political empowerment of women a necessity. We see
women as active agents of development, not as passive recipients.”

The premier said the government has formulated a progressive Women
Development Policy in 2011.

“The reserved seats for women in the national parliament have been risen
to fifty,” she said, mentioning that at present, the Leader of the House, the
Deputy Leader of the House, the Opposition Leader and the Speaker of
parliament are women.

Sheikh Hasina said thirty percent seats are earmarked for women in local
government bodies, while special provisions have been made for enhancing
women’s representation in the public service.

She said women are now becoming higher court judges, public university
VCs, secretaries of the government ministries and so on. Gender budgeting,
micro-finance and similar initiatives have ensured women’s financial
inclusion.

The premier said the government’s investment in women is paying dividends
with women thriving in every sector of the society.

“Today, 20 million women are engaged in agriculture, industry, and service
sectors, while over 3.5 million women are working in the readymade garments
sector, our largest export-earning sector,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said nearly 1,500 women military and police officials have
so far served in UN peacekeeping operations. “Our women are breaking barriers
and succeeding in careers that our previous generation could never imagine,”
she said.

The premier said Bangladesh earned many global accolades due to its
achievements in women empowerment.

“According to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, we are leading
in South Asia on women’s overall empowerment, ranked 50th globally out of 149
countries, and 7th in political empowerment … we have much more to do,” she
said.