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Interview

BARRISTER MITI SANJANA is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and is the founding partner of LEGAL COUNSEL, an internationally proclaimed and well-reputed law firm. She was called to the bar of England and Wales by the hon’ble Society of Lincoln’s Inn, UK. In addition to her diverse legal practices, she is also an activist and a regular columnist.Her tantalizing verbal creations captivates the readers until the very last page. Her legal articles are accompanied by the ethics and righteousness. She writes and speaks frequently about the women and children rights issues, domestic violence, Human Rights issues, politics, culture and history. She regularly contributes to the popular dailies. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Barrister Miti Sanjana talks to Weekend Plus (The New Nation) about why economic empowerment and protection of women’s rights are fundamental to the sustainable development of our country and how we can help our country to achieve this.

BARRISTER MITI SANJANA is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and is the founding partner of LEGAL COUNSEL, an internationally proclaimed and well-reputed law firm. She was called to the bar of England and Wales by the hon’ble Society of Lincoln’s Inn, UK. In addition to her diverse legal practices, she is also an activist and a regular columnist.Her tantalizing verbal creations  captivates the readers until the very last page. Her legal articles are accompanied by the ethics and righteousness. She writes and speaks frequently about the women and children rights issues, domestic violence, Human Rights issues, politics, culture and history. She regularly contributes to the popular dailies. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Barrister Miti Sanjana talks to Weekend Plus (The New Nation) about why economic empowerment and protection of women’s rights are fundamental to the sustainable  development of our country and how  we can help our country to achieve this.
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Weekend Plus: What are the specific problems that women in our country are facing?
Miti Sanjana: Women’s right to life, personal liberty and security are frequently violated in various ways. They face domestic violence, sexual harassment, mental abuse, trafficking, forced prostitution, social, economic and workplace discrimination etc. Many women are denied the right to access to education or even to the most basic health care. They also do not enjoy equal rights with men in terms of inheritance. And the list goes on.

Weekend Plus: What may be their root cause of such problems?
Miti Sanjana: Women’s role in society has been stereotyped for thousands of years. It is very important for every family member to realise the need to liberate the girl child of loaded household chores, which may adversely affect her educational, social and economic development.Every member of the society needs to understand thata woman’s decision making authority, economic empowerment isessentialfor the development of the entire country.Social narrow-mindedness and negative mindset towards women empowerment is certainly the root-cause of all such problems.
 
Weekend Plus: Do you think the existing laws of our country are adequate to protect women's right?
Miti Sanjana: There are many good laws protecting the rights of women and children. We haveDomestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010, The Women and Children Repression Prevention Act 2000, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1980, Acid Control Act 2002, Acid Crime Prevention Acts 2002 etc. Most importantly our Constitution allows positive discrimination towards women and a lot of laws have been made by way of conferring additional rights to women.
However,only enactment of law is not enough. You certainly need proper implementation of the law and above all a proper mindset.

Weekend Plus: in your view, are these legislations being effectively enforced?
Miti Sanjana: As I have just stated, existing laws are more than sufficient to safeguard women's right and safety. But the lengthy legal procedure, cost, social pressure and lack of co-operation of law enforcing agencies discourage women to invoke their legal rights.

Weekend Plus: What can be done to change this tendency?
Miti Sanjana: Women in our country need to be given a greater level of support and assistance to take part in social and political decision makings. They should be given easy access to effective financial support by the banks and other financial institutions for small and medium enterprise level businesses. Expert advice should be given as to how to manage that fund in order for it to achieve the desired goal. Greater financial independence will invariably require greater access to education and will gradually result into effective participation is decision making is different spheres of life.
Weekend Plus: What does it mean to be an empowered woman?
Miti Sanjana: To me an empowered woman is someone whohas the capacity to participate in the decision-making within the family and has financial independence.  
Weekend Plus: How do you evaluate women empowerment in Bangladesh?
Miti Sanjana: Through the last few decades the social, economic, political, cultural and legal strength of the women have been increasing remarkably.
Whether itis politics, academics, sports, music or adventure, women are proving their worth in every arena. Apart from the top political leaders, there are many women leaders, who are successfully working all over the country. Female garments workers have been contributing significantly to the economic growth of our country as well as reducing poverty rates at a mass level. Breaking all stereotypes,women are standing up as role models not only for women, but also for men transcending the geographical boundaries.

Weekend Plus: Is International Women's Day contributing towards positive change of these circumstances?
Miti Sanjana: International Women’s Day is very significant especially for the developing countries where the rights of women are restricted. We must also celebrate the spirit of the brave women who struggled throughout the centuries in gaining basic rights. It’s a day to remember, reinstate and celebrate all the achievements and contributions of women towards the family, society and to the world. n

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