Md. Sazedul Islam :
Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. In many countries, IWD is an occasion to honour and praise women for their accomplishments. IWD is a national observance in many countries. According to UN Women, the original aim is to achieve full gender equality for women the world has still not been realised. A gender pay gap persists across the globe and women are still not present in equal numbers in business or politics. Figures show that globally, women's education, health and violence towards women is still worse than that of men. On IWD, women across the world come together to force the world to recognise these inequalities - while also celebrating the achievements of women who have overcome these barriers.
In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.
In Bangladesh, different programmes are held to mark the day. While the IWD may be a day of global celebration, there is no room for complacency as our women still struggle on many fronts. In our country, women have been subjected to exploitation and negligence for various reasons. The most repressive incidents they face are torture inside house, abduction, trafficking, rape, acid throwing, burning, killing, mental torture, dowry related torture, torture during pregnancy and forceful prostitution as profession.
They are also facing problems such as violence at working places, early marriage, forceful abortion, determining gender during pregnancy, suicide, malnutrition and poverty.
UNICEF says, Bangladesh's socio-cultural environment contains pervasive gender discrimination, so girls and women face many obstacles to their development. Girls are often considered to be financial burdens on their family, and from the time of birth, they receive less investment in their health, care and education.
In the home, women's mobility is greatly limited and their decision-making power is often restricted. For instance, about 48 per cent of Bangladeshi women say that their husbands alone make decisions about their health, while 35 per cent say that their husbands alone make decisions regarding visits to family and friends. Violence against women is another major impediment to women's development.
"Education is essential to reducing discrimination and violence against girls and women and Bangladesh has made great progress in this area, already achieving gender parity in primary and secondary education. Women's employment rates remain low despite progress, and their wages are roughly 60-65 per cent of male wages", says the UN body.
Though many women in our country have become victims of injustice due to various reasons, another section of women, who have different disabilities, are the worst sufferers. The overall condition of female with disabilities (FWDs) is more pathetic in the country. There are about 12 million FWDs in Bangladesh. Issues related to people with disabilities in Bangladesh are still dominated by ignorance, fear and superstition in the community. The direct result of this has been the neglect of the persons with disabilities in all spheres of life. FWDs may be considered to have a double disadvantage, as they are already socially discriminated against their male inmates within this patriarchal society.
FWDs, who are mostly poor, face more discrimination in our society. They cannot express their opinion even in their respective families and get less scope to vent their decision. While narrating the condition of FWDs, Ferdousi Begum Rubi, a female with disability in Kushtia, said they (FWDs) face deprivation and discrimination regarding education, employment, marriage and other matters due to wrong perception about them. There are obstacles from the families and society when they (FWDs) try to become self-reliant.
As the FWDs are more vulnerable in the country, steps need to be taken for helping them lead their lives smoothly. Ensuring them easy access to employment as per their qualification can help reduce their sufferings. Hence, it is needed to enhance their life skill and bringing them under education. If they get scope to increase their skill and employment, then they can prove their worth contributing to the country's development. If the private organizations and NGOs come forward to supplement the government's efforts, employment problem of the FWDs will be solved easily. Then they can get scope to lead their lives in a decent manner.
The FWDs cannot contribute to the country's development only due to negative attitude of people. The negative attitude made their lives more miserable. All concerned should play their due role in eradicating the stigma surrounding FWDs and making an atmosphere, which is conducive to protecting the rights of all, including the FWDs.
There is a provision in Bangladesh National Women Development Policy 2011 for taking necessary steps so that women only because of disability are not deprived of any kind of rights, facilities and services endowed under the Policy.
Women rights is a highly talked about issue amongst the human civilization for years together. Women comprise about half of our total population and we cannot achieve the goals of our development by showing negligence to them. Hence, it is imperative to ensure their rights. Equal rights of all have also been enshrined in our Constitution.
According to experts, it is vital to ensure equal participation of women in every sector in order to achieve gender equality. Males have to change their mindset towards women and stay beside women in establishing their rights. In order to ensure equal participation of women, a woman-friendly atmosphere has to be created at work place.
In Bangladesh, women constitute a great majority of the population. Therefore, their development is prerequisite to national development. Taking into consideration the relatively disadvantaged position of women, the government emphasises on ensuring their socio-economic development.
Bangladesh is signatories to various charters on advancement of women and committed to implement these. Several existing laws have been amended and a few new ones enacted in Bangladesh for prevention of violence against women and girl child. Although considerable progress has been made, much more still needs to be done. The government hoped to achieve the goals in future with the united efforts of all.
(The writer is a journalist. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(PID- Project Feature)