Confidence and self esteem are vital for women to have equal respect, leading women professionals said yesterday during a roundtable discussion on the eve of International Women's Day.
“Women have to demonstrate their own strength and a sense of self-worth to command other's respect,” said Sonia Bashir Kabir, managing director of Microsoft Bangladesh.
Zara Jabeen Mahbub, head of communication and service quality at Brac Bank, said it is vital to instil the sense among the children that men and women are equal and they deserve respect from each other.
The Daily Star and Jaago Foundation jointly organised the discussion on “Facing challenges together in Bangladesh today” at the Daily Star Centre.
People, who believe in honouring and respecting women, sometimes make decisions which perhaps subconsciously imply sexism and racism, said Rubaba Dowla Matin, chief service officer of Airtel Bangladesh.
Everybody should equally respect women, said Group Chief People Officer Ajeyo Rohitashwo Al Quazi of aamra companies. “The issue still remains the foremost social challenge ….”
Syed Md Saikh Imtiaz, chairman of women and gender studies department at Dhaka University, said women themselves do not always respect women.
The overall social mindset of not respecting women would not change overnight, he observed.
Wives are not respected as women the same as mothers, pointed out Rokia Afzal Rahman, chairperson of Mediaworld Ltd.
She stressed the need for parental and family support to ensure women's equal rights and respect. She suggested that men should be sensitised for standing by women.
She expressed concern that security of women at work and on streets is getting worse day by day.
Christine Hunter, country representative of UN Women, said it is extremely essential for women's equal rights that men stand with women hand in hand.
“We also need to look into what respect to women really means,” she added.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said women deal with multifaceted challenges and struggles and sometimes they fall victim to discrimination even due to parental love and affection and family's concern for security.
The Daily Star is fully committed to women empowerment and gender equality, he noted.
Luna Shamsuddoha, president of Bangladesh Women in Technology, and Rumana Rahman, head of human resource of British American Tobacco Bangladesh, also spoke, among others.
Jaago Foundation Chairman Korvi Rakshand along with Elita Karim, editor of Star Weekend, a weekly publication of The Daily Star, moderated the discussion.