DHAKA, March 8, 2018 (BSS) - Describing economic freedom as very important for the women, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the country's womenfolk to move with self-confidence and dignity and stand on their own feet to consolidate their position in society.
"The economic freedom is very crucial for the women. So the womenfolk of the country shouldn't sit idle (in houses) and they will have to work and stand on their own feet side by side with pursuing study," she told the inaugural function of the International Women's Day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre here this morning.
The premier said a woman can consolidate her position in society and family and none will dare to neglect her if she earns money through work. "A society cannot raise its head high if women remain underdeveloped there," she said.
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs arranged the function with State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki in the chair.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh Mia Seppo was present in the function as the special guest, while Women and Children Affairs Secretary Nasima Begum delivered the welcome address.
This year's theme of the day is -- 'Samoy Ekhon Nareer: Unnayane Tara, Badle Jacche Gram-Shahore Karma Jibon Dhara'.
At the function, a documentary on the government's development activities for the women was screened.
Putting emphasis on creating equal opportunities for males and females, the prime minister said it's very essential to develop the society.
She said equal scopes will have to be given to men and women, and in this way arrangements for employment for the females will have to be made and their strength and merit will have to be utilized at the workplaces.
"How a society will prosper leaving the women behind? ... no work will be done if they are not given scope," she said.
Pointing out that her government has taken measures to integrate the womenfolk in the mainstream of development, Sheikh Hasina said the country will advance further if males and females work together.
"We want that every boy and girl will pursue education and they will be groomed as good human beings and move with dignity keeping pace with the world," she said.
The prime minister said the aim of her government is to create scope for women by protecting their rights. "Our goal is to ensure their movement in every sphere of the life and we progressed much in this regard ... Bangladesh's girls demonstrated their success in many fields which many developed countries couldn't," she said.
In this connection, the prime minister said: "We want that you will move with self-confidence and dignity and take care of the family properly."
Mentioning that the country's womenfolk are getting opportunities in every field, Sheikh Hasina said this success didn't come overnight and for this "we had to struggle much."
Elaborating her government's measures for women development, the premier said her government has been implementing various projects and programmes to consolidate women's empowerment, child protection and achieve gender equality as laid down in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Our government has taken initiatives for creating a woman-friendly environment abundance in food, nutrition, medical and educational facilities and ample scope of employment at the root level.
Assuming office after a gap of 21 years in 1996, she said, the Awami League government started designing different programmes for women development.
"Our government has awarded the title of 'freedom fighters' to 185 Biranganas (war heroines) who were humiliated by the Pakistani occupation forces and war criminals during the Liberation War of 1971," she said.
The premier said the government framed the 'National Women Development Policy 2011' and adopted the 'National Action Plan-2013' for implementation of the policy.
"We've increased maternity leave from 4 months to 6 months with salary and introduced the name of mother along with the name of father in every aspect," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has enacted necessary laws with a view to protect the women and children from all types of violence, keeping the provision of stringent punishment.
The laws, she said, included - 'Women & Children Repression Prevention Act- 2000', 'Women & Children Repression Prevention Act-2003(Amended)', 'Child Marriage Restraint Act-2017', Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010, 'DNA Act-2014'.
The prime minister said 'Dowry Restraint Act-2017' and 'Child Daycare Centre Act-2018' are at the final stage of approval.
She said women are now playing significant role in politics, diplomacy, education, art and culture, research, trade and commerce, sports and games, investigation and adventures. "Women are now the wheels of our economy," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said once there was no daycare centre in Bangladesh Secretariat and it was her government which first set up a daycare centre for the children at the secretariat.
In this connection, she said the government has already directed to set up daycare centres everywhere. "In the meantime, 74 daycare centres have been established. But I think there is a necessity to set up more such centres," she added.
The prime minister said a female polytechnic institute has been set up in four divisions. "Such an institute will be established in all divisions gradually apart from technical school and college," she said.
The prime minister reiterated her determination to build Bangladesh as a middle income country by 2021 and developed one by 2041.
"Working men-women together, we will build Bangladesh as a middle income country within 2021, and developed and prosperous one by 2041 Insha Allah," she said.
At the outset of the speech, Sheikh Hasina paid rich tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and said that he ensured equal opportunity for women in the constitution through articles 19 and 28.
"The women who lost their modesty in the war of liberation in 1971 were later awarded with the title of Birangana by Bangabandhu," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also remembered Begum Sheikh Fazilatun Nesa Mujib, who worked for the country along with Bangabandhu all the time giving him inspiration, courage and suggestions.
"Bangamata arranged the marriage of the girl victims of the liberation war whose families were unwilling to take them back in their families," she said.
Earlier, the prime minister handed over "Joyeeta Sammanana" to five women for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields.
They are Brishti and Feroza Khatun from Dhaka division, Nasima Khatun of Khulna division, Hola Cra Pru Marma of Chittagong division and Amena Begum of Rajshahi division.