Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for concerted efforts among South Asian countries to address the challenges of establishing women's rights in all spheres of life.
She made the call while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 7th South Asian regional conference on women rights at Hotel Sheraton in the city yesterday morning.
Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and United Nations Development Fund for Women jointly arranged the conference titled 7th South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference, Commemorating Beijing with the slogan “Delivering for Women in South Asia.”
High official delegates including ministers and secretaries from eight Saarc member states are attending the conference.
The premier in her speech termed women and child trafficking as a major problem in South Asia. “We must take united stand to combat this social menace,” she said.
Hasina reiterated that her government is working round-the-clock to alleviate poverty and ensure socio-economic emancipation of all including women by providing best educational and health services.
The PM emphasised on proper implementation of laws on women rights in all the Saarc countries.
“Every country has its own laws to establish women rights. What we need is the laws' proper implementation,” she said.
Hasina said by working unitedly with more sincerity, the Saarc member countries can ensure implementation of the laws.
She said Bangladesh has been successful to make significant advancement in different spheres of national life including education, health, economy, politics and human resources development in line with Beijing platform for action.
The PM mentioned various steps of her government about the women's rights which included free education for girl students, stipends for female students at secondary and higher secondary level and financial assistance to buy books.
She said following these steps enrolment of girl children up to higher secondary level has increased remarkably.
Hasina also mentioned attainment of MDG-4 Award of the United Nation by Bangladesh for its remarkable success in reducing child and maternal mortality.
She said Tk 331.20 crore has been allocated in the current budget for providing allowances to 9.20 lakh widows and husband-abandoned women.
Hasina announced that the budgetary allocation in this regard will be increased in the future.
She stated that 19 female candidates were elected directly as lawmakers in the last general elections while 45 females elected from reserve seats in the parliament.
“Prime minister, deputy leader of the house, leader of the opposition and five ministers of the government are women. This proves how much Bangladesh has advanced in the path of women empowerment,” the PM said.
She said the government has reserved 30 percent seats for the women in different tiers of the local government and 14 thousand 228 women are now working as the member of union parisad.
The process is going on to implement various steps by making the present Women Development Policy up-to-date, she said.
Hasina further said the government is working to increase maternity leave to six months from the present leave of four months.
Addressing the programme, Regional Programme Director of UNIFEM Anne F Stenhammer highly appreciated Bangladesh's achievements in the field of women empowerment.
State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury and Secretary in Charge of the Ministry Tariqul Islam, among others, addressed the function.