‘Prioritise land rights of women, ethnic minorities’
Participants during a virtual dialogue yesterday urged the government to give priority to landless poor women, including those belonging to ethnic minorities in the plains, during allocation of arable khas land.
They also urged the government to ensure financing and provide soft agricultural loan from state-owned banks to poor rural women considering their landless situation.
Citizen's Platform for SDGs Bangladesh in partnership with Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) organised the event on "Safety and Land Rights of Women and Minorities".
The speakers stressed on formulating a 'uniform family code' to ensure women's equal rights irrespective of their religious identities, demanding institutional recognition of women's contribution in agriculture and ensuring market accessibility for them.
Moderating the event, the platform's convener and Centre for Policy Dialogue's Distinguished Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya said land-related problem is a major issue in Bangladesh.
He said, while addressing left-behind people's rights, such problem appears as an obstacle to their development.
The country's women as well as people belonging to religious and ethnic minority communities face the challenge more intensively, he added.
Without recognising women's contribution in agriculture it might not be possible to hold on to the progress made so far in the sector, said Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD, while presenting a keynote paper.
He stressed on implementing recommendations from the expert committee of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) while addressing women's rights.
Noted lawyer Prabir Neogi said, "Of all civil and criminal litigation filed in the country, about 80 percent are related to land issues."
He said the administration has to show its commitment while implementing land-related court orders.
Addressing the eventas chief guest, Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury said they want to ensure 'accurate' land survey by using modern technology.
He said soon they will launch a pilot project in Barguna and Patuakhali where drone technology will be used to ensure accurate land survey.
Once completed, the "Bangladesh Digital Survey" will be a benchmark, he added.
Religious community leader Rana Dasgupta said land-related problems of religious minority people have to be resolved in light of the High Court directives, calling upon the land ministry to take necessary steps in this regard.
Land rights of the country's ethnic minorities has not been ensured yet, said rights activist Rani Yan Yan. "People of these communities still live in fear of losing their lands," she added.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Fauzia Moslem and General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous People's Forum, Sanjeeb Drong, among others, spoke at the event chaired by Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir.