Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the womenfolk to strive for realising their rights by themselves.
“You'll have to realise your rights by yourselves as no one will come in your aid in this society ruled by men,” she told a programme marking the Begum Rokeya Day and distribution of Begum Rokeya Padak-2016 in the city's Osmani Memorial Auditorium.
This year, the prestigious award went to Aroma Dutta and Begum Noorjahan for their outstanding contributions to advancing women.
The PM announced that the number of awardees would be increased to five from next year to further encourage women.
“We want to turn Bangladesh into a poverty-free country. However, we won't be able to materialise our dream if we do not take the womenfolk in the journey to eliminate poverty,” she said.
Mentioning that half of the country's population is women, the PM said their development is a must for the country's development. “If women don't make progress in education and other sectors, this society would never be built properly. Everybody should understand that there is no chance to neglect them.”
Children and women affairs ministry organised the programme, with State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki in the chair.
The then government in 1995 had introduced the award after the name of Begum Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain, a pioneer of women's rights in the Subcontinent.
Hasina said the government created opportunities for women's education through providing stipends at primary and secondary levels and scholarships for higher education.
She paid deep respect to the memory of Begum Rokeya.
Recalling women's great contributions during the Liberation War in 1971, she said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had taken steps for women's emancipation and their political, social and economic development.
She noted that Bangladesh's PM, deputy leader of the House, opposition leader, Speaker and a number of ministers are women, which is rare in the world.
Women in Bangladesh are now working in every level of the administration. They are in the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, judiciary, local government bodies, Jatiya Sangsad and also in UN peacekeeping missions, she added.
The premier said women's role in mass media as well as sports is also very commendable. The government would pick more women for the administration as they are doing well, Hasina told her audience.
She hoped the government would be able to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041.