Advocate Shahanur Islam:
On 8th March “International Women’s Day” is a global day of celebration and advocacy. Today, the world, including Bangladesh is celebrating International Women’s Day, with this year’s theme of “digital innovation and technology for gender equality”.
Women’s rights organizations, government bodies, civil society groups, trade unions, and NGOs all over the world are holding events to celebrate the day. International Women’s Day is an annual occasion that recognizes women’s achievements in the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres.
The history of International Women’s Day dates back to the early 20th century when women across the world began organizing and fighting for their rights. The first International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, with over a million women and men attending rallies and demonstrations, demanding the right to vote, work, and hold public office. In 1912, women in the United States joined the movement, and a National Women’s Day was organized by the Socialist Party of America.
The idea of International Women’s Day gained momentum during World War I when women in many countries were forced to take on new roles in the workplace to replace men who had gone off to fight. In 1917, women textile workers in Russia went on strike on March 8th, demanding better working conditions and an end to the war.
Their protest was a pivotal moment in the country’s history and marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution. After the war, the Soviet Union officially recognized March 8th as International Women’s Day, and the celebration began to spread to other countries. In 1975, the United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day, making it a global day of celebration and advocacy.
International Women’s Day has been celebrated in Bangladesh for many years and holds significant importance for women in the country. Women played a crucial role in Bangladesh’s independence movement in 1971, and the country has a rich history of women’s activism.
In Bangladesh, International Women’s Day is celebrated with rallies, demonstrations, and cultural programs organized by women’s groups, NGOs, and other organizations. The day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements in Bangladesh and highlight the challenges that still need to be addressed.
Bangladesh has made significant progress in promoting women’s rights and gender equality in recent years. The country has adopted policies and programs aimed at enhancing women’s access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. The government has also implemented measures to combat gender-based violence and discrimination, such as the adoption of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act.
However, there is still a long way to go to achieve full gender equality in Bangladesh. Women continue to face significant barriers in accessing education and employment opportunities, especially in rural areas. Additionally, women are still underrepresented in decision-making positions in both the public and private sectors.
One of the most critical issues facing women in Bangladesh is violence against them, with a 2015 report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics indicating that 72.6% of women have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime.
Access to education and economic opportunities is another critical issue for women in Bangladesh, with many facing barriers due to poverty, early marriage, and discrimination. While progress has been made towards improving access to education for girls, there is still a long way to go, with women facing discrimination and inequality in the workplace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges, with women facing increased gender-based violence and economic insecurity. However, the pandemic has also highlighted the importance of digital innovation and technology in promoting gender equality. The use of technology has enabled women to access healthcare services, education, and employment opportunities remotely.
To address this, the government has strengthened laws and policies related to violence against women, but more awareness-raising and education on the issue are needed.
On this International Women’s Day, we must recognize the progress made towards gender equality in Bangladesh and recommit ourselves to promoting women’s rights and empowerment.
We must continue to work towards closing the gender gap in education and employment, promoting women’s leadership and decision-making, and using digital innovation and technology to empower women and promote gender equality aiming to create a more just and equitable society for all.
The writer is a human rights defender and lawyer in Bangladesh and Laureate 2023 of the Marianne Initiative for Human Rights Defenders, France. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Whatsup: +8801720308080, https://www.initiativemarianne.fr/en/laureats/islam-shahanur/