Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday underscored the empowerment of women saying that they are the most vulnerable section of society and suffer most during any conflict and disaster.
"It is beyond question that women are the most vulnerable section of society, especially in third-world countries. They suffer from various forms of violence, malnutrition, illiteracy and other basic needs. Their plights multiply during any conflict and disaster," she said.
The premier said this while speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day seminar on International Women Peace and Security.
Armed Forces Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bangladesh Police organised the seminar at Army Multipurpose Complex in Dhaka Cantonment.
She said that to address the peace and security issues of women, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution number 1,325 which established the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and Bangladesh is proud to be a part in formulating the resolution.
Hasina said that since its independence, Bangladesh has been working on promoting women in all spheres of national life.
She said that the constitution of Bangladesh framed under the guidance of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman guarantees equal rights for women.
She quoted Article 28 (1) of the Constitution which says: The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Clause (2) of the same Article stipulates: Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and of public life.
The PM said that her government has formulated Women Policy 2011. Under the policy, it has taken measures to ensure women's overall development and active participation in mainstream socio-economic activities and remove all the impediments to their empowerment.
Their increased participation and contribution in sectors like politics, administration, education, businesses, sports, and armed forces have been transforming the socio-economic landscape of Bangladesh, she added.
She mentioned that gender parity in Bangladesh has improved across all sectors due to the greater participation of women in socio-economic and political activities.
"Bangladesh is at the top position in gender equality among South Asian countries," she told the seminar.
PM Hasina said that Bangladesh is a role model for women's participation in peacekeeping, peace-building, disaster management, and preventing violent extremism.
In this regard, she said that it was her government which has opened the door for women to be recruited into the armed forces during her first tenure in 1996.
At present, she said, Bangladesh is the topmost contributor of female peacekeepers in UN peacekeeping missions. So far, a total of 704 female peacekeepers from the Bangladesh Armed Forces have participated in UN peacekeeping operations. Currently, 373 female members are deployed in different peacekeeping missions.
"On the other hand, a total of 1,624 female police officers from Bangladesh Police have taken part in peacekeeping operations and 150 officers are currently working."
She also said that women in Bangladesh are now serving as government secretaries, judges of the Supreme Court, VCs of Universities and top positions of many organisations.
Sheikh Hasina said that she is glad to know that the participants will interact with the Rohingyas, forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals from Rakhine state.
"We have given them shelter on humanitarian grounds. We could understand their plights and miseries as we had to undergo similar experiences and shocks during our War of Liberation in 1971. The interactive session, I hope, will be a great experience for the participants to understand the victims of war and conflict."
The prime minister said that as the current chair of the Women, Peace and Security Chiefs of Defence Network that was launched by Bangladesh, Canada and the United Kingdom in November 2017, all are pledged bound to carry forward the WPS agenda.
"Formulating National Action Plan 2019-2022 on WPS, we have been implementing it. We have decided that implementation of the National Action Plan will continue till 2025," she said.