A society develops, and peace and prosperity make their way into the family life when both men and women enjoy equal rights.
Bangladesh is highly dominated by patriarchy that has put a question mark before all the achievements of the country, said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder chairman of Brac – the world's largest non-government organisation based in Bangladesh.
"Yet, I believe our country will certainly proceed towards establishing gender equality in a progressive society," said Sir Hasan Abed.
In an interview with popular Bangla daily The Prothom Alo in October last, he expressed his heartaches over women repression in the country.
"I feel really sad to see women getting lower wages even for working more than their male counterparts. They are systematically denied some specified professions and work," he said.
In the last 47 years, Bangladesh's labour force has risen by three and a half times. This is because a large number of women have entered the labour market by this time.
On the other hand, many children are married off and one-third of them have to face violence in their families, he continued.
"Yet, I dream of a gender-equal country," said Sir Abed, adding, "Perhaps I would not be able to see it in my lifetime and it would remain as an incomplete agenda of my life."
This Bangladeshi legend – who perhaps has no match in his style of self-dedication to the cause of Bangladesh's socio-economic development – breathed his last on Friday.
But well before his death, he put forth how the country could overcome growing challenges created due to population pressure, urbanisation and climate change.
"The young generations will have to utilise their potentials to overcome these future challenges. We will have to find out new and creative solutions to them," he said.
About the role of his organisation – Brac, he said they had helped in creating employments for the rural poor through micro-credit, training and other assistances.
"Bangladesh has been successful to a large extent in developing the society. Brac, along with the government and all other organisations, was always upfront in the country's development march."
Brac has initiated new projects whenever a new problem has come up affecting a specific community, particularly women, said Sir Abed.
In this connection, Brac Poultry was launched with the aim to facilitate income opportunities for village women. Starting on small a scale, it expanded throughout the country in a bid to ensure livelihood for a large number of people.
Aarong, another Brac welfare project, was started in 1976 to empower the women, initially those of Manikganj through the silk industry.
Similarly, Brac started its Afghan mission in 2002 targeting women. Ninety primary schools for girls were founded at the beginning. Soon, Brac's reach extended to microcredit, healthcare and education sectors.
Brac emphasised women's increased participation in social activities in Afghanistan. Most of the recruits with Brac were women. At the beginning, Afghan women hesitated to move out of their villages on their own. But now they put on a burqa and take the bus by themselves.
The changing process for individuals depends much on self-confidence, Sir Abed concluded.