Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday underlined the need for building a future where world peace and women empowerment will remain the cornerstone to create a peaceful society free from poverty and discrimination.
“We want to build a future where world peace and women empowerment remain the cornerstone to create a society free from poverty, discrimination and conflict,” she said while delivering her keynote speech at a discussion on ‘Educate to empower: Making equitable and quality primary and secondary education a reality for girls across the Commonwealth’.
The Commonwealth Women’s Forum organised the programme at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre here.
The Prime Minister mentioned that education for all will remain Bangladesh’s prime objective towards achieving the overarching policy visions of inclusive development with the guiding norm of sustainable development goals. “We foresee a future where women and men work hand in hand for achieving human development.”
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s national plans and policies, including the 7th five-year plan, are geared towards that end.
She said ensuring quality education for girls and boys by 2030 is also the priority task and commitment of her government.
Hasina said the government attaches importance to girls’ education in Bangladesh which helps eliminate various social hurdles and it has also enhanced the living standards of the rural women. “Besides, incidences of exploitation and domestic abuses have also gone down substantially following the development in female education sector.”
She said the Constitution of Bangladesh framed under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman recognises the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination as fundamental rights.
Bangladesh is now leading the way for gender equality in South Asia, Hasina added.
She highlighted the successes and achievements of women in Bangladesh as they are holding the highest post in the administration — from being secretary, vice-chancellor of public universities, judges of higher courts to ambassadors.
Besides, the women in Bangladesh are now engaged in challenging professions like pilot, locomotive driver, members of armed forces and law enforcement agencies, she said.
Referring to Bangladesh’s 47th position among 144 countries and the first position in South Asia ranked by the World Economic Forum, the Prime Minister said it also ranked Bangladesh as 7th among 155 countries in terms of political empowerment of women.
“That’s why, the government adopted a progressive National Women Development Policy in 2011, while all national policies ensured participation and empowerment of women as an integral objective,” she said.
Hasina said the National Education Policy 2010 laid emphasis on education that promotes economic productivity and social and humane qualities. “Without proper education, it’s not possible to empower women.”
She said for empowering women politically, the government has undertaken various measures like increasing reserved seats in the National Parliament and keeping aside 30 percent seats for women in various local government bodies.
The Prime Minister informed that Bangladesh is the only country in the world where the Speaker, the Leader of the House, the Deputy Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition are all women.
In her speech, she elaborated steps, including distribution of free textbooks, providing stipends to students, development of training infrastructures for teachers, women participation in income-generating activities and creating opportunities for them in the job markets.
She said Bangladesh has now reached a new trajectory in its development journey as its GDP is projected to grow at 7.65 percent in the current fiscal year.
In the country, the poverty rate decreased to 22 percent in 2017 from 41.5 percent in 2006, Sheikh Hasina said.