JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the global leaders for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza stopping illegal occupation.
"I call upon all parties to ensure humanitarian access and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. I urge world leaders to end this dreadful war, collective punishment, and illegal occupation," she said.
She was addressing the opening session of "International Conference on Women in Islam: Status and Empowerment" as the guest of honour here.
"We must remain united for an independent and sovereign state of Palestine. I will continue to do my part on behalf of our Palestinian brothers and sisters," she continued.
The prime minister said all Muslims women should raise their voices for peace.
"We condemn the Israeli atrocities committed against innocent women and children in Gaza," she said.
It brings memory of the two hundred thousand women and girls who suffered inhuman persecution in the Great Liberation War in 1971, she said.
"It reminds me of the brutal assassination of my parents and other family members, including women and children, on August 15, 1975 carnage," she said.
The premier went on saying that it evokes the scene of thousands of tortured Rohingya women and children from Myanmar who took refuge at our border in August 2017.
The premier has placed a set of suggestions for women in Islam.
The suggestion are:
First, immediate cessation of the conflict in Palestine, and justice for crime against humanity, particularly on women and children;
Second, say 'no' to all crimes, violence, discrimination, and increasing Islam phobia targeted against women and girls;
Third, give added attention to achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls to meet SDG-5;
Fourth, make sure that Muslim women and girls have the choice to present themselves in public in the way they want to, and
Fifth, Bangladesh, as a shining example of the empowerment of women and their role in the mainstream, is ready to share our experience with other friendly Muslim states.
The premier said the OIC is a platform where dialogue on this much-awaited issue is welcome.
Bangladesh very early joined the Women Development Organization (WDO) of the OIC, realizing its potential in women empowerment, she said.
While the WDO has started its journey, she said, " I hope that its mandate can be expanded to incorporate today's needs through a better understanding of Islam. Only then can we dream of an equal, peaceful, and prosperous world. I wish this international conference all success."
Sheikh Hasina commended the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the OIC for celebrating women in Islam at the international conference.
"We eagerly follow the Kingdom's ground-breaking initiatives for women's emancipation. I praise the transformative vision of His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince," she said.
Describing the Islam as a religion of peace, harmony, and humanity, she said that the first person to embrace Islam at the call of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam was Bibi Khadija, a woman.
Quoting the Holy Quran's Surah An-Nisa, she said: "And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever over you, an observer."
Bangladesh has a proud legacy of championing women's rights and gender equality, she said.
"We have pioneers like Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, who imagined a women-led world in her book "Sultana's Dream" published in 1905.
Quoting Bangladesh's national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam in English, she said: "All the world's superb creations, ever-beneficial, half are done by women, half by men."
Sheikh Hasina said her father, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, confirmed women's equal status in Bangladesh's Constitution framed under his guidance
Bangabandhu had created provision for 15 reserved seats for women in the first Parliament in 1973.
"As his daughter, I have continued the trend of empowering women and increased the reserved seat to 50 as currently there are 73 female parliamentarians in our National Parliament," the Premier continued.
"Women have always been on the frontlines of our economic development, social reforms, and democratic struggles. I keep calling upon them to work for real change on their own," she said.
She said Bangladesh ranks among the world's top ten countries in a global index on women's political empowerment.
"We have a unique situation where the Speaker of Parliament, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and Deputy Leader of the Treasury Bench are women. We have one-third of reserved seats for women in our local government bodies," she said.
She said her political party, the Bangladesh Awami League, has been working to increase women's representation at all levels.
"Every time I have been in office, I have tried to remove all barriers to promote women in decision-making.
"I feel proud to see our women holding top positions in administration, the judiciary, universities, the armed forces, financial institutions, and trade bodies," she said.
She went on saying girls from remote areas are shinning in public examinations, competitive recruitments, and national sports in Bangladesh.
"As host of the Islamic University of Technology, I invite young women from OIC Member States to study in this excellent institution," she said
The Prime Minister said currently, the incumbent government is building 564 model mosques and Islamic Centres across the country having facilities for women.
She continued that Bangladesh's recent socio-economic progress is also proof of our women's significant participation.
The female workforce makes up nearly 46% of our formal economy. Women entrepreneurs account for a large portion of our cottage, micro, and small industries, she said.
Mentioning that women have a vibrant presence in IT freelancing, e-commerce, and start-ups, she said, "Our government is working to enhance their access to finance, markets, ideas, and training."
In the public sector, she said they grant six months' paid maternity leave.
"We are engaged with our partners to ensure the protection and well-being of female workers, including those who are employed abroad," she said.
She said their diverse social protection programmes benefit the poor, widow, abandoned, challenged and elderly women.
Under her free housing project called Ashrayan, she said the government is ensuring joint ownership to both husband and wife so that in case of a break-up, the title is transferred to wife.
There is growing awareness against dowry, child marriage, and cyberspace harassment, she said.
"It is now mandatory by law to use a mother's name in all documents of children. We are implementing a National Action Plan on women, peace, and security. Our female peacekeepers are proudly serving in UN missions in Africa," she said.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha