Gender equality can bring sustained peace, security
Ensuring equality between men and women both in public and private spheres can bring about sustainable peace and security, foreign diplomats and civil society members have said.
They said women can be agents of peace in all societies when they are given access to equal opportunities, but stressed that lot more investment is required towards their education and empowerment.
The observations came at a virtual event marking the 20 years of "UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security" organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. Bangladesh played a leading role in adopting the resolution at the UN Security Council in 2000.
Bangladesh has nearly 7,000 peacekeepers in the UN Peacekeeping Missions. Of them, 139 are women military officers and 183 are women police officers.
Norwegian Ambassador to Bangladesh Espen Rikter-Svendsen said he was pleased to see an all-women team of Bangladeshi peacekeepers in Haiti in 2010. "This is something that Bangladesh can be proud of," he said.
However, he said, Bangladesh also needs to look at what's happening in the domestic front in terms of gender violence. The issue should not get less priority amid the coronavirus pandemic.
UK High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson said Bangladesh is a champion in women empowerment, especially when it comes to women participation in the UN peacekeeping. Their role is critical in the missions as women and girls are affected the most in any violence.
It is also important to look at how the women enjoy their rights at home, he said, adding, "Gender equality is a basic human right."
Canadian High Commissioner Benoit Prefontaine said finding out the root causes of violence and solution is key to peace, and that's what is required by any society going through violence.
Manzoor Hasan, executive director at the Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University, said cyber-bullying and unemployment among women have become important factors in the rise of violence against women.
He suggested that developing entrepreneurship skills among women and ensuring life skills and human rights education in college/university level for everyone could help address some of the root causes of gender-based violence.
Addressing as chief guest, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the key focus of the UN Security Council's Women in Peace and Security (WPS) resolution is that women – equal half of humanity – bring in a new breadth, quality and balance of vision to the common effort to move away from the culture of war to the culture of peace.
"Empowered women bring important and different skills and perspectives to the policy-making table. Gender equality makes our planet safe and secure," he said.
The women in Bangladesh are playing key roles in the disaster management, rescue and recovery.
"One third of our volunteers responsible for rescue and recovery are women. They play essential preventive role in the context of emerging security threats, including violent extremism," said the foreign minister.
However, financing remains a challenge. Bilateral aid for women's empowerment has decreased from 5.3 percent to 4.5 percent, while overseas development aid for women's organisations remained the same (0.2 percent) during the last decade, he said.
"We must reverse this depressing trend and redouble our efforts to ensure women's full, equal and meaningful participation in peace process," said the minister.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen; Secretary (East) Mashfee Binte Shams; Women and Children Affairs Ministry Senior Secretary Kazi Rowshan Akhter; Armed Forces Division Principal Staff Officer Lt Gen Waker-Uz-Zaman; Foreign Ministry Director General (UN) Samia Anjum; UN Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo; South Korean Ambassador Lee Jang-Keun; UN Women Bangladesh Representative Shoko Ishikawa and Bangladesh Police Women Network President Amena Begum also spoke at the event.