(BSS/Unicef feature) - "I had to face a lot of problems previously in performing my responsibilities as a female ward councillor, but those problems have gone as the men's outlook towards the women has been changed significantly," said Sayda Salma, a councillor of Madaripur Pourasabha.
Salma, the councillor of wards No. 1, 2 and 3 of the municipality, said the change of the mindset of the people has helped raised her self-confidence to take any decision.
"Now I can take any decision independently as the people's confidence in us has been boosted up remarkably," she said.
Salma said this has been possible as women empowerment in Bangladesh witnessed stunning progress over the last few years, especially during the tenure of the present government.
Like Salma, many others gave credit to the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the issue of women empowerment as her administration has taken many pragmatic and epoch-making steps for the development and welfare of womenfolk.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar, who recently visited Bangladesh, highly appreciated Bangladesh's tremendous socioeconomic development, particularly in women empowerment, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"Bangladesh made impressive development in various sectors, especially women empowerment, which India could not do," the Indian minister made the comments during his meeting with the Bangladesh prime minister.
The Asian Forum of Parliament on Population and Development (AFPPD) has praised Bangladesh's impressive success in the empowerment of women and their great contribution to the country's socioeconomic development.
"Bangladesh and some other Asian countries are doing well in terms of the economic development of women", Jetn Sirathranont, secretary general of AFPPD, told the 11th women ministers and members of parliament conference in Thailand recently.
Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Julia Niblett has described Bangladesh as the "champion of economic development and women empowerment".
Bangladesh's success in women empowerment is guided by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who desired to transform the country into a prosperous country where women would participate side by side with men for the nation building.
Under the leadership of Bangabandhu's able daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, women empowerment has been placed at the heart of Bangladesh's development agenda.
The country has achieved remarkable success in advancing women under her leadership and been regarded as the "role model" for the advancement of women in the world.
Bangladesh today is perhaps only country in the world that has a woman Prime Minister, a woman Leader of the Opposition, woman Speaker and a woman Deputy Leader of the House.
Because of various initiatives of the present government, the womenfolk of the country have been playing a strong role in trade and commerce, politics, diplomacy, judiciary, administration, armed forces, law enforcement agencies, sports, and UN Peacekeeping Missions.
Thirty percent seats in the local government bodies like Union, Upazila, Municipality and City Corporations have been kept reserved for the women, while nearly 45,000 women contested the last polls of union parishad, the lowest tier of local government body.
As a recognition to the advancement of women, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was awarded "Planet 50-50 Champion" by UN-Women and "Agent of Change Award" by Global Partnership Forum on September 21 last in New York.
Pointing out her government's steps to empower women, the prime minister on many occasions said the desired development of the country is not possible leaving the women, the half of the total population, out of development process.
Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) Executive Director Rokeya Kabir has also acknowledged the tremendous success of Bangladesh in women empowerment, saying that the country's womenfolk have strengthened their footprint in every sector.
"The strong presence of the country's women is now visible everywhere from the politics to administration, from the crop fields to law enforcement agencies and from the Everest to playground ... they are making great contribution to the country's socioeconomic uplift," she said.
Rokeya Kabir, however, expressed concern over increasing the incidents of violence against women and the male-female discrimination regarding successor of the property.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Ayesha Khanam said the country's womenfolk have advanced much in all sectors. "This progress is clear," she said.
Criticising the enactment of "The Child Marriage Prevention Act 2016" incorporating a provision for special marriage, she said the politicians, policymakers and administration will have to do more for further welfare of the country's womenfolk.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)