‘Education’ is essential for women’s empowerment

Nasrin Aktar Urmi, Barta2.com, Dhaka
Photo: Barta24.com

Photo: Barta24.com

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This year's International Women's Day is being celebrated with the theme 'Women will build a new world of equality in corona period'. The whole world is devastated by corona. Many countries have dealt with women-led corona. Bangladesh is one of them. Even during the corona period, women are moving forward in their respective fields by overcoming various crises.

In an interview with Barta24.com on the occasion of World Women's Day, State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Fazilatun Nesa Indira spoke on women's education, establishment of equal rights, women's oppression, women's development and progress.

What kind of initiatives is your ministry taking to create women leadership?

State Minister Fazilatunnesa Indira: First of all, greetings to all on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of independence. Congratulations to all the women of the world including Bangladesh on the International Women's Day on March 8. On March 8, 2020, International Women's Day, I announced that 50 lakh women in Bangladesh would be empowered through the 'Information Apa Project' in the year of Mujib. I am happy to announce that 54 lakh women have been empowered beyond the target of empowering 50 lakh women through the Information Apa project. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of the Father of the Nation, announced at the 75th session of the United Nations that she would improve women's employment. She has taken various steps in the wake of this announcement.

The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has also taken various steps to empower women through employment. For the empowerment of women at the grassroots and metropolitan level, about 54 lakh 50 thousand women have been trained through the Information Apa project. Women entrepreneurs are being created through Jayita Foundation. Women entrepreneurs are being branded for their products by creating capacity. The Prime Minister will inaugurate the construction work of the 12-storey building of Jayita Foundation next month.

Through e-commerce, women are buying and selling their products. Currently, 80 percent of women are doing business online and through e-commerce. Bangladesh ranks 50th out of 153 countries in establishing an egalitarian society and tops South Asia.

Construction of complex buildings for various activities including working women's hostel, day care center, training center, exhibition center, sales center is underway in 10 districts. Moreover, ‘Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Padak’ has been introduced for the recognition of successful women in their respective fields and for their encouragement and inspiration.

Why are women still economically and politically backward?

State Minister Fazilatunnesa Indira: Education is the only reason why women are economically and politically backward. A girl is financially self-sufficient, if that girl is educated. Education is the key to women's empowerment. It is not possible for any woman to advance economically and politically without education. The rate of female education in our country was very low. Since the Prime Minister came to power, the female student rate has increased many times more than the male student rate especially at the primary and secondary levels. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been conferred the title of 'Peace Tree' for her special contribution to women's education.

Our government has taken various awareness measures to promote women's education. Apart from this, we are also providing all the interventions that are needed for economic development. The media can play an important role in this. Awareness programs can do well in print media, online media, TV channels.

Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is now a role model in the development and empowerment of women all over the world. If everyone works together, there will come a time when women will reach 100% development.

At present, the abuse of women and children has increased, what kind of initiatives have been taken to stop the abuse of women and children?

State Minister Fazilatunnesa Indira: Women are tortured not only in Bangladesh but all over the world during corona. Our country's law and order forces are working to stop the abuse of women. Prevention committees have been set up at the divisional, district and union levels to prevent violence against women and children, child marriage and dowry. They are working to stop violence against women.

In addition, Crisis Center, Crisis Cell, Trauma Counseling Center, DNA Laboratory Provider and 249 Toll Free Helpline 109 are running. The death penalty for rape has been commuted to life imprisonment by amending the Women and Child Abuse Act 2020. DNA testing of the accused and the victim has also been made mandatory.

Even if immediate action is taken for torture, why is it not followed up later?

State Minister Fazilatunnesa Indira: It is not true that there is no follow-up. Legal assistance is being provided to the victims at the divisional level and many district levels. We have a shelter house. Legal aid is being provided to helpless and abused women there, including food.

Not only Bangladesh but any government in the world cannot do everything alone. Everyone must work in unity. In order to develop women, empower women, establish women's equal rights and dignity, people must first change their mindset.