Bringing women to the fore | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 13, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 13, 2012

Editorial

Bringing women to the fore

Regional forum welcome

The newly launched forum of women members of parliament of SAARC countries is the first of its kind. The aim is to promote a greater role for women leaders in South Asia. The platform, it is hoped, will help bridge the gap between women representatives in public office and the government machinery at large where women remain underrepresented and their needs largely ignored.
The idea of having a cross-border forum is to share experience and increase communication of women MPs that could in the long run act as support group female elected representatives to address the many areas where women in South Asia lag behind. Unless more women are elected to every facet of the governance hierarchy, there is little possibility of bringing about a more gender-neutral working environment. Having a greater voice in the decision-making process assists in the promulgation of policies that are not only more women-friendly but helps in bringing about changes in the work environment that lessen the likelihood of violence against women.
Although Bangladesh has made progress in increasing the number of women members in parliament to about 20 per cent of total representatives, much remains to be done. There exists general apathy in promoting women to crucial positions in mainstream parties despite the fact that both the major political parties in the country are headed by women. Without greater political participation of women in parliament, women's issues cannot truly take centre stage and they will not be able to achieve gender equality with men. Only when there is a significant presence of women at the different levels of the governance process can one expect a change in the fight for curbing burning issues such as violence against women and national budgets that address needs of women in general.

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