Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) yesterday alleged that all political parties that came to power since independence did not take any adequate initiative for the social and political development of women.
The women's rights activists also placed their 21-point demand which included direct election of women and increasing the number of reserved seats to 100 from 50.
They made the demands from a rally on “Political empowerment of women and holding a free and fair election” held at the Central Shaheed Minar in the capital.
“The Awami League-led government did not keep its own promise made in the election manifesto and Sheikh Hasina also broke her promise made in several speeches by not taking initiatives to hold direct election for women,” said Ayesha Khanam, president of BMP.
She alleged that the 17th amendment of the constitution, which allows reserved seats for women in the parliament for another 25 years without the provision of election, will hamper progress.
“The government may succeed in economic development but without ensuring political rights of women, it will not be sustainable,” she added
She alleged that female parliament members, in reserved seats, cannot play a bold role as they have no constituencies and the parliament is dominated by male politicians.
“I know that women have no legal barrier to participate in the national elections from the 300 general seats but it is quite difficult for women candidates to get nominations from their respective parties as getting nomination depends on money and muscle power, so we demand an increase in the number of reserved seats,” she added.
Ayesha said at least 281 women and girls faced various types of violence including rape, murder and sexual assault in November this year.
In her speech, BMP General Secretary Maleka Banu said the political parties that are going to contest the upcoming election should promise to nominate female candidates in 100 constituencies.
Marking the 138th birthday of Begum Rokeya yesterday, Banu said the dreams of Rokeya can be realised through ensuring a disparity-free society for all.
She urged the countrymen not to cast vote for the candidates involved in war crimes during 1971, and demanded a women-friendly government in the 11th parliament.
Rekha Chowdhury, acting movement secretary of BMP, read out a paper containing demands including ensuring women's security during election, putting an end to violence against women, ensuring a non-communal state, prohibition of the use of religion centring the election, and ensuring human rights.