Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took part in the “Women in Islam: Status and Empowerment” international conference held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Monday, November 6, 2023. This three-day conference is being jointly hosted with the support of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) general secretariat.
In a powerful address at the Conference Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh delivered an inspiring message urging world leaders to take immediate steps to end the ongoing conflicts and suffering in Palestine. She strongly condemned the Israeli atrocities committed against innocent women and children in Gaza and emphasized the importance of unity for an independent and sovereign state of Palestine. Hasina’s speech was not just a call for peace but also a comprehensive vision for empowering women and promoting gender equality.
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Hasina acknowledged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a platform for dialogue on these important issues and highlighted Bangladesh’s early participation in the Women Development Organization (WDO) of the OIC. She hopes that the WDO’s mandate can be expanded to meet the evolving needs of women through a better understanding of Islam, aiming for a more equal, peaceful, and prosperous world.
PM’s 5 Points in OIC Women in Islam Jeddah Conference
Here are the 5 key points from her speech;
1. Immediate Ceasefire in Palestine and Justice for Crimes Against Humanity
Prime Minister Hasina called for an immediate ceasefire in Palestine and justice for crimes against humanity, particularly those committed against women and children. She stressed the urgency of ending the ongoing conflict and ensuring the protection of innocent civilians who have suffered greatly.
“I call upon all parties to ensure humanitarian access and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. I urge world leaders to end this dreadful war, collective punishment, and illegal occupation.”– Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
2. Say “No” to Crimes, Violence, Discrimination, and Islamophobia Against Women and Girls
Sheikh Hasina urged the world community to reject all forms of crimes, violence, discrimination, and the increasing Islamophobia targeted against women and girls. Her call for solidarity in protecting the rights and dignity of women and girls is a vital step toward a more inclusive and just world.
3. Achieving Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls (SDG-5)
The Prime Minister emphasized the need to pay attention to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG-5). This goal represents a commitment to promoting gender equality, ensuring access to quality education, and creating opportunities for women’s economic participation and leadership.
4. Respecting Women’s Right to Present Themselves as They Choose
Sheikh Hasina underscored the importance of respecting women’s autonomy and their right to present themselves in public in the way they prefer. This point highlights the significance of individual freedom and choice for women, allowing them to make decisions about their appearance and identity without interference.
5. Sharing Bangladesh’s Experience with Empowering Women
Prime Minister Hasina pointed to Bangladesh as a shining example of women’s empowerment and their integral role in the country’s development. She expressed the readiness of Bangladesh to share its experience in empowering women with other friendly Muslim states, promoting a sense of unity and collaboration.
Bangladesh’s Achievements on PM’s 5 Points
From the very first of the war, Bangladesh has condemned the ongoing armed conflict between Israel and Palestine, expressing concern over the loss of innocent civilian lives and injuries. They have called for an immediate ceasefire, again and again, emphasizing that the escalation of conflicts and violence benefits no party. Bangladesh supports a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, with both living side by side as independent states free of occupation, based on UN Resolutions No 242 and 338. The country also urges all parties to avoid excessive and indiscriminate use of force and emphasizes the importance of dialogue and diplomacy to find a lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Bangladesh also sends medical aid to Gaza in the ongoing conflict.
Bangladesh has made significant strides in women’s empowerment and is globally recognized for its achievements in this area. The country ranks in the top ten on a global index measuring women’s political empowerment, reflecting its dedication to championing women’s rights, with historical roots dating back to figures like Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. The country’s Constitution, shaped under the guidance of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, enshrines women’s equal status.
Women’s political empowerment has seen notable progress, with women holding significant positions in government, local governance, and various sectors. The Bangladesh Awami League has worked tirelessly to increase women’s representation at all levels, from administration to universities and trade bodies.
“We have a unique situation where the Speaker of Parliament, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and Deputy Leader of the Treasury Bench are women. We have one-third of reserved seats for women in our local government bodies.”– Sheikh Hasina
Women have excelled in education and sports, and Bangladesh welcomes young women from OIC Member States to study at the Islamic University of Technology. The socio-economic progress of Bangladesh has been significantly influenced by the active participation of women, who make up nearly 46% of the formal economy.
The government has taken measures to support women’s rights, such as providing six months of paid maternity leave in the public sector and ensuring the protection of female workers, even those employed abroad. Social protection programs benefit a wide range of women.
Bangladesh has also made progress in addressing issues like dowry, child marriage, and cyberspace harassment through legal measures and growing awareness. The requirement to include a mother’s name in all documents of children is now mandatory by law.
On the international stage, Bangladesh actively participates in efforts related to women, peace, and security, with female peacekeepers serving in UN missions in Africa. Bangladesh’s commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality is evident through its remarkable achievements and ongoing efforts.