Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) with support from Manusher Jonno Foundation and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) organised the webinar.
Celebrating the achievements of women on a single day becomes meaningless when women’s safety cannot be ensured on a regular basis, stressed the speakers.
“Every organisation should be cognisant of how they treat their female employees,” said Banasree Mitra Neogi. “Just giving lip service is not enough. Organisations need to establish committees that address their female employees’ needs and issues.”
Rina Akter, a former sex worker turned rights activist for sex workers who has been recognised under BBC’s 100 Women 2020, explained that things are even worse for street sex workers.
“Most street sex workers were left without any work during the beginning of the pandemic. They are not eligible for voter IDs, and thus cannot own a house. Social stigma makes it impossible for them to even apply for regular jobs. They too are women but when we talk about ensuring women’s rights, their issues and concerns are never taken into consideration,” she said.
The webinar on ‘Overcoming the COVID-19 crisis: Stories of female leadership’ was held virtually on Sunday ahead of the International Women’s Day 2021. It was aligned with the United Nations’ theme ‘Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’.
Emphasising the significance of female leadership in times of crisis, BYLC celebrated the many ways that women have contributed in the fight against the pandemic.
Gender equality cannot be ensured if the rights of transgender women are not recognised, said Lamea Tanjin Tanha, the 21-year-old founder of TransEnd.
“Trans women are still seen with suspicion in our society. They are excluded from health, education, and other basic rights. If we are to ensure an inclusive society, we need to make sure that trans people are given the same privileges, the same access to facilities that the rest of the society enjoys,” she said.
Laila Tasmia, gender and development expert, shed light on the discrimination faced by women at home and beyond. “Instead of asking how the society can provide a safe space for girls and women, we force them to limit their potential. Even today, girls are perceived as possessions to be confined within four walls,” she said.
Esrat Karim Eve, founder of AMAL Foundation, reiterated the sentiment, adding, “The goal should be to create an environment where women feel secure about their safety and can reach their full potential without fear of external or internal threats.”
Source: United News of Bangladesh