On the occasion of International Women's Day, some 50 organisations, alliances, networks, and forums have marched together for democracy.
The event was organised by the International Women's Day Committee.
The procession – starting on Friday morning – began at Nur Hossain Chattar in Gulistan of the capital and ended at Suhrawardy Udyan.
Speakers at the march said, "The constitution of our democracy guarantees the rights of the people: the right to question, the right to freedom of speech, the right to mobility, the right to organise, the right to self-determination and, above all, the right to question those in power in our families, in our government and in our society."
"These elements are at the core of the feminist fight. Without a democratic state and a democratic environment, it is impossible for women and people from diverse genders to question power, push for accountability and pursue justice," they added.
At the end of the march, participating women drew pictures on white cloth at Suhrawardy Udyan. There were also brief rallies and cultural programs focusing on women's awareness.
According to the organisers, in addition to the march, events were held at around 40 places across the country under the same theme – to challenge the repressive environment they are currently living in.
Highlighting the importance of freedom of speech to uphold democracy, the speakers said, "One of the most critical issues that we are protesting for is freedom of speech, and against is the Digital Security Act [DSA]. Anti-democratic laws such as the DSA do not help create safety for women or anyone as we saw last year in the Noakhali case where men with political affiliations voluntarily spread a video of sexual assault to intimidate the survivor."
"The fact that the culture of impunity in our country right now allowed for these assaulters to be confident in sharing the video shows exactly why the DSA is not about creating a safe online environment for citizens, even women," the speakers continued.
"We fear that this repressive environment will lead to shrinking spaces where we can question the culture around us – a culture of gender-based violence that imposes rigid archaic gender norms, encourages misogynistic attitudes, imposes strict rules and restrictions on women's mobility, and their right to choose," the speakers added.
Stressing that their fight is a fight for freedom and democracy, the speakers said, "50 years after our liberation, we urgently need to fight to bring back democracy – to hold onto the successes we have created for ourselves and to allow the space for us to continue this fight in the future."
Organisations – including Naripokkho, Durbar, Acid Survivors Foundation, Bohni Shikha, Agni Foundation, Feminists Across Generations, Blast, Prattasha Mahila Unnayan Sangstha, Jayati Society, Sachetan Samajseva Hijra Sangha, Care Bangladesh, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Jago Nari, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Awaj Foundation – participated in the march, among others.