Consider girls as driving force behind change, not just as victims: PM

The Report Desk

Published: May 15, 2024, 02:31 PM

Consider girls as driving force behind change, not just as victims: PM

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said there is no alternative to integrated social movements against child marriage, dowry, and violence against women. 

“We must recognise our girls not just as victims, but as the driving force behind change,” she said while inaugurating inaugurated a two-day event titled “ICPD30 Global Dialogue on Demographic Diversity and Sustainable Development” that would create a platform to discuss the challenges and explore the opportunities of the world’s shifting demographics.

Bangladesh, Bulgaria and Japan along with UNFPA are hosting the conference at Hotel Intercontinental.

Hasina said that Bangladesh has adopted the National Adolescent Health Strategy (2017-2030) and its implementation plan. 

“To ensure health services for adolescents, we have established adolescent-friendly health service corners in 1,253 union-level service,” she said. 

She mentioned that an initiative has been taken to distribute free sanitary napkins to nearly 5 million adolescent girls studying in grades six to twelve. 

Furthermore, the government has launched the "School Meal" programme nationwide to meet the nutritional needs of school-going students.

The prime minister said that since 2010, the government has implemented the world‍‍`s largest free textbook distribution programme at the secondary level, distributing approximately 464 million books until 2024. 

“In addition, we have introduced a stipend program to promote girls‍‍` education from primary to higher secondary level.Girls‍‍` education has been made charge-free up to twelfth grade.”

She mentioned that the government has allocated 30 percent of national budget for the social and economic empowerment of women. 

“In line with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we are implementing a national policy and plan of action for women‍‍`s development," she said.

Currently, she mentioned that 42.6 percent of the total workforce comprises women.

“And we aim to increase it to 50 percent by 2030. We have also set targets to ensure 25 percent female participation in the ICT sector by 2026 and 50 percent by 2041," she said.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum, she said Bangladesh ranks seventh among 146 countries in terms of political empowerment, and first in the region. 

“In the recent twelfth parliamentary election, female participation increased by 38.24 percent compared to the previous general elections," she said.

Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud, UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem, Minister of Social and Family Development Of the Maldives Aishath Shiham, Kiribati’s Minister for Women, Youth, Sports and Social Affairs Martin Moretti, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Yasushi And State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Rokeya Sultana also among others spoke at the programme.

Representative from the government of Bulgaria also joined the opening ceremony.

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