Ensuring adequate access to education and financial activities for women is needed to empower them, observed speakers at a discussion yesterday.
The Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh organised the discussion styled “Women Empowerment in Bangladesh: European and Bangladesh Perspective” marking International Women's Day.
Bangladesh has already achieved significant progress in many socioeconomic indexes, but the country's marginalised women still lag behind for inadequate access to education and economic activities, the discussants added.
The EU is contributing to women empowerment in Bangladesh by providing duty-free market access to readymade clothes, EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said.
Citing some recent incidents, the ambassador said still there are some concerns and tragic events. Citing the government statistics, he said there is "alarming rate" of violence against women in Bangladesh.
The ambassador mentioned that the newly passed Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2017 and recent changes in textbooks had presented the status of women and girls in Bangladesh in a conservative manner.
Former Bangladeshi career diplomat Nasim Firdaus said freedom of choice is the key to women empowerment in Bangladesh.
More participation of women is needed in the parliament and in policy making, she said, suggesting that the EU should arrange training and education programmes for women.
French Ambassador in Dhaka Sophie Aubert stressed the need for ensuring safe access to contraception for Bangladeshi women.
President of Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (BFWE) Rokia Afzal Rahman highlighted roles of NGOs in women empowerment.
Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation Shaheen Anam said the newly passed child marriage restraint act, which has a provision allowing underage girls and boys to get married, would emerge as an obstacle to women empowerment.
The law will obviously be abused since about 67 percent of women are subjected to domestic violence in the country.
The given logics have been debunked by many studies, she said, adding that from now on, they would monitor how the rules are formulated and implemented.
Chargé d'affaires of Spanish embassy Alejandra Lopez-Garcia, the Netherlands Embassy's Deputy Head of Mission Martine van Hoogstraten, Head of DFID Bangladesh Jane Edmonson, and Independent Director of IPDC Bangladesh Ltd Nasreen Sattar, also spoke.