Women’s rights and dignity must be protected

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Wares Ali Khan :

Every year Rokeya Day is observed on 9 December marking her birth and death anniversary as a tribute to her majestic works and legacy. Begum Rokeya advocated all her life for women to be treated equally.

This pioneering feminist and social activist wrote many short stories, poems, essays, novels, and satirical writings characterized by creativity, logic, and a wry sense of humor.

She criticized the extreme form of the prevailing ‘purdah’ system that endangered women’s lives and self-image. Her writings inspired women to protest against injustices and break the social barriers that discriminate against them.

The discourse that is going to take place here might depict a brief scenario regarding the unwavering perspective of women since the departure of the pioneer feminist, and what changes have been made in the fate of women in the country over the nine decades.

Observance of Rokeya Day inspires women to take challenges which signifies the importance of challenging biases and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world.

On the day many pioneer feminists, social activists, and right-bodies advocate on behalf of women’s rights and dignity and raise their voices loud intending to promote women’s interests.

The unwavering perspective lies in the commemoration of the day implies that a challenged world is an alert world and from challenges comes change.

Therefore choosing challenges for change and forming awareness against biases will help women forge a gender-equal world, celebrate their achievements, and broaden their horizons by sustaining lives through economic, social, and political avenues.

The issue of the contribution of women to the national economy has taken the center stage in development discussions in the country.

However, traditional gender norms and patriarchal values often limit women’s mobility and constrain their activities in the labor market.

The dynamics of change in labor market composition and the contribution of women in official estimates of gross domestic product are much lower than that of men. Control over the use of income by women is a burning question.

The influence on the participation of women in agriculture has been a matter of dismay. Diverse social and religious barriers cut back women in many ways to be involved in the field of agriculture.

The constitution and the legal system guarantee equal rights for women to participate in all aspects of public life.

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But regrettably, women in Bangladesh are in many ways inferior to and hooked on men, and kept within the household through male domination.

The social structure of our country still works pessimistically regarding political participation and involvement for women.

A prevailing drawback to representing women at the national level of politics, the absence of mobilizing strategies and severe male- dominated sentiments are the reasons for sure.

Recognizing the rights of women to exercise decision-making power also recognizes women as complete human beings. But it is a historical truth that women, as a whole, experience multifaceted challenges in access to decision-making power just because of their gender-based difference, and this has remained untested for women year after year.

Women from different walks of life still live in fear of frequent physical violence and endure domestic exploitation, sexual assaults, character assassination, verbal abuse, and other extreme sorts of distressing issues in society. Domestic violence has its roots in socio-cultural norms and practices.

Condoned by religion and tradition is another manifestation of patriarchy that thrives on unequal power relations within the family and stems from the pervasive belief that men are superior to women and therefore have the right to control every aspect of their lives.

To promote total well-being, safety, security, sustainability, participation, and recognition in the socio-economic and political domains, and to turn women into an agent of positive and integral changes like their male counterparts, the following substantial aspects need to be addressed befittingly.

Gender mainstreaming is subject to ensuring practical measures through executing necessary plans and enforcing the best practice of policies regarding women’s rights and dignity.

Gender-based violence must come to an end to guarantee women of their holistic safety and comprehensive well-being. Managing requisite education and active involvement in formal professional environments, business, innovation, and entrepreneurship have to be assured for them.

Decision-making power is a long-discussed and vital issue that has to deliberately come into reality in all spheres of women’s life. Recognition of household chores and determination of economic and monetary value must be ascertained. Political status should be comprehended and integrated.

Formulation and implementation of women-friendly down-the-line policies and rights-based plans have to be enforced pragmatically. Addressing a grand awareness of upholding constitutional rights and privileges for women might be accomplished appositely.

Half of our entire population is women. Leaving them lagged, putting them waiting in the queues of disparity, violence, suppression, victimization, and dominance-no society can imagine healthy and balanced progress.

Therefore, on the ground of observance of Rokeya Day, we have to vow so that our entire womenfolk can be entitled to honor and dignity, safety, and security, and can keep constant momentum in line with the country’s continual gross development living in a gender-sensitive abode.

The writer is an academic.

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