Progress there, but still a long way to go
Foreign diplomats yesterday lauded significant progress in women empowerment in Bangladesh but observed that a large portion of the women is still not participating in the economy.
Recommending proper education, skills development opportunities for the poor and vulnerable women, they said a country cannot move forward leaving half of its population out of economic activity.
Ambassadors of France, Germany, Canada and Sweden made these observations in two events marking International Women's Day, today.
The Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) organised one event at the Jatiya Press Club and the other was organised by the Franco-German embassy at its premises.
At the DCAB event, terming digital technology an important factor in the coming days, Swedish Ambassador Alexander Berg von Linde said it can be a boon if properly utilised, or a disaster.
She said the authorities should take measures to stop harassment of women in the digital space.
Linde said poor and vulnerable women should be given the opportunity for education and digital skills development.
Canadian High Commissioner Lilly Nicholls said, as media plays critical role in creating awareness, participation of women in journalism needs to be increased.
She said Free Media Coalition, a global initiative to support free media, will work in that regard in Bangladesh to create awareness on gender equity.
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said the country's constitution upholds equal rights for all, but economic deprivation leads to various disparities in the social, political and cultural arena.
Therefore, she said, economic empowerment is the first condition that should be ensured for women empowerment.
Bangladesh's first female officer at the foreign ministry, Nasim Firdaus and former ambassador Majeda Rafiqun Nessa were honoured by the DCAB.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Seheli Sabrin, Jatiya Press Club President Farida Yasmin, journalist Angur Nahar Monty also spoke at the event presided over by DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus.
At the embassy event, French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy said she was impressed by the assertive quality of women in Bangladesh. She said many women are leading in business and civil society and the country's prime minister is also a woman.
She said France has a feminist foreign policy and will continue to promote women empowerment in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
German Ambassador Achim Troster said their foreign policy and development strategy is focused on gender equality and emphasised women's equal participation for the overall development of society.
Foreign Service Academy Rector Mashfee Binte Shams and US Embassy Acting Information Officer Bryan Schiller also spoke at the event.