Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Monday, February 23, 2015, Falgun 11, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 3, 1436 Hijr

Demand for more women seats in JS
Increasing Participation In Policy Making
Published : Monday, 23 February, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 17
Banani Mallick
The number of women in the policy making process needs to be increased to ensure gender equality and women empowerment in the country.
Civil society representatives and women activists made such observations on Sunday as Bangladesh is getting ready for Beijing Platform for Action Meeting scheduled for next month in New York.
The Commission Status of Women (CSW) meeting will begin on March 9 and continue until March 20.
The main objective of the meeting is to discuss and share ideas and issues with stakeholders including government officials and civil society in terms of gender equality, post-MDG goals, Beijing+24, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and address all issues how they can work together.
Ayesha Khanam, President of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad during a panel discussion in the city recently said that for gender equality and women empowerment, the number of women policy makers should be increased.
"For increasing the number of women policy makers, government should ensure one-third seats for women in Parliament, direct election to these seats for their political empowerment," she said.
The current Parliament consists of 350 seats, including 50 reserved seats for women, which are apportioned to elected parties based on their representation in Parliament.
Some representatives of civil society said that for all works including gender equality a strong political will is needed.
Referring to the contribution of women in the national economy, Shanaj Arafin, Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, Policy Programme and Campaign, said that women's contribution to home based work activities (unpaid care work) is ignored which needs to be recognized.
She also noted that despite having potentials and talents equally like a man women do not get access to the job market due to excessive home work load on them and this work remains unpaid.
She suggested that work should be distributed between men and women, and then it could yield equal results.
Leading businesswoman Selima Ahmad, Vice-Chairmen of Nitol-Niloy Group and founder of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that sexual harassment at work place is a barrier to women empowerment.
She emphasized market accessible education and said that some skilled and technical education should be introduced in the college and university for women to get access to the job market. Laying stress on a comprehensive sex education, Hasne Ara Begum, Programme Manager, Gender Justice and Diversity of BRAC noted that both girls and boys become the victim of unexpected situation due to lack of comprehensive sex education.
Meanwhile, Meher Afroze Chumki, State Minister of Ministry for Women and Child Affairs, on Sunday said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had advised not to decrease the marriage age for girls from 18 to 16.
"We are not decreasing the existing marriage age of a girl. But considering socio-cultural and economic demography we are considering some options," she made this statement at a Preparatory Meeting on the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) organized by UN Women in Bangladesh, where she was present as chief guest.
State minister made this comment at a time, when Bangladesh Government has been criticized nationally and internationally for taking its stance on altering marriage age for girl from 18 to 16.
The government on 15 September last year approved the drafts of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2014, a law intended to choke off the high rate of child marriage in Bangladesh, keeping the provision of maximum two-year in prison and Tk. 50,000 as penalty.
According to the proposed law, anyone under 18 of age will be considered as a child, while a male under 21 years age and female under 18 years will be considered as minors.
When asked if government is planning to include any clause to Child Marriage Act, she was unwilling to make any comment.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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