Half of the population and manpower of Bangladesh are women, but a very small portion of them are involved in the decision-making process.
Participation of women in the decision-making process should be increased to ensure sustainable development, said Education Minister Dipu Moni while addressing a seminar on gender equality at PKSF Bhaban at Agargaon in the capital on Thursday.
The seminar, "Gender Equality in Sustainable Development: Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and SDG-5", was organised marking the International Women's Day.
Speaking as the chief guest at the seminar, she said, "The progress of women in Bangladesh has taken a new form after 2008. It is true that our prime minister, deputy leader of parliament, speaker, and education minister are women. But the position of women in decision-making is still low. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wants increased participation of women in the decision-making process."
"Different works, like cooking and washing, are generally considered as women's work, but whenever money is added to it, dominance of men can be seen everywhere. For example, tailors, cooks, and cleaners are always men when money is involved. And when the work is to be done without payment, it becomes the work of women. It is the creation of society.
"A woman often hears the word "no" in many social, cultural and religious occasions. Women have to be courageous to break this wall of this "no". They have to realise their inherent strength which will help them conquer everything.
"The fear of being the victim of violence is one of the main reasons behind women's backwardness in society. People believe that rape and a women's dignity are intertwined. This is a deep-rooted misconception. A woman's dignity does not depend on a special part of her body. It is the rapist who loses his dignity committing the crime.
"Why should a women's life be ruined for being raped? Why would she not be able to show her face in public? Why is she further harassed repeatedly while seeking help from the law? Why should we think that her life is over because of being raped? Accidents can happen. They are happening all over the world. Although it should not be like this, but rape is still taking place for a number of reasons," she added.
Presiding over the seminar, PKSF Chairman Dr Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed said women are given priority in all the activities of the PKSF. Once upon a time, women's participation was nominal at the field level of development activities. Women used to hand over the money she earned to her husband or father. But the situation has changed now.
Now the decision about how the money would be spent is made by them, which is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Presenting the keynote at the seminar, PKSF Managing Director Nomita Haldar said the PKSF is providing various financial and non-financial services to more than 1.5 crore families through a wide range of projects and programmes. More than 90% direct members of these activities are women, as no development is sustainable without effective involvement of women.
Sheikh Mohammad Salim Ullah, secretary to financial institutions division of the finance ministry, was the special guest at the seminar addressed by Independent University Vice-Chancellor Niaz Ahmed Khan and Open University Vice-Chancellor Mahbuba Nasrin.
Officials of various government and non-government organisations also participated in the seminar.