International Women’s Day, 2011 celebrated

“Equal Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women”

Like every year this year also The National Girl Child Advocacy Forum celebrated the International Women’s Day through a number of programs that included a civil discourse session, a debate, cultural events and an award giving ceremony. The day’s program commenced at 3:00pm and ended around 6:00pm and was held at the Bangladesh Shishu Academy auditorium. The main event of the day comprised of two sections; a parliamentary style debate and an award ceremony, punctuated by cultural events. The main presenter for the occasion was Tahera Afroze, Lecturer at Badrunnessa Women’s College. The event was inaugurated by Nasima Akhter Jolly the Secretary of National Girl Child Advocacy Forum.

In her address of welcome Nasima Akhter Jolly laid emphasis on the need for upholding the principles of women’s development policy and the need to march forward for establishing a society free from discrimination and repression. She mentioned the historical background of gender discrimination since 1857 A.D. and stated that discrimination that existed at that time exists even today, albeit in different forms and names. She stated that women will not give up, women have gone far and wide in every field and the progress cannot be stopped.

The Special Guest of the event was guest Promod Mankin, State Minister of the Ministry of Culture and other distinguished guests included Dr. Badiul Alam Majumder, President of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum; Latifa Akand, retired professor of Dhaka University and member of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum; and Rafiqul Islam Sharkar, Director of Baishakhi TV.

The event started with a cultural section. Students from different schools came on stage and performed songs. The National Anthem was sung, followed by other songs and recitals. At 4:15pm, the parliamentary debate was started under the direction of Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran, the Chairman of the Debate for Democracy Society. The subject for the debate was “Only Economic Development Can Ensure Female Empowerment”. A team of five students from Dhaka Residential Model School and College spoke in support of the subject while a team from BAF Shahin School and College spoke opposing it.

Right afterwards, guest speaker Soniya Akhter Brishti from the Acid Survivors’ Foundation stated her feelings on the subject of female empowerment, gender equity and violence against women. She expressed her concerns about the rising numbers of acid victims and hoped that steps will be taken to minimize them. Special guest Promod Mankin, State Minister of the Ministry of Culture then presented his opinion on the event, the highlighted causes and the day being celebrated. He spoke about the patriarchal society currently in effect and the hindrance it creates in the path of women’s development. He mentioned that the constitution and the Government of Bangladesh will continue to aid in systematically eliminating the barriers in female empowerment. Next Rafiqul Islam Sharkar, Director of Baishakhi TV took to the podium and gave a poignant speech on female empowerment. He directed his words towards the students present and encouraged them to try and achieve greatness. All the discussants expressed their viewpoints on the central theme of “Equal Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women” and forcefully advocated equal rights and equal treatment for women and girl children in all spheres of national life.

An award giving ceremony was then conducted. Three special guests were honored for their work and awarded for the important impacts they have had on empowering women. The award recipients, Biva Shangma (Biva Shangma’s award was received by her younger brother, Dipak Shangma on her behalf), Kumudini Hajong and Shimul Yousuf (her daughter Esha Yousuf accepted the award on her behalf) were presented. Awardee Kumudini Hajong said that she was very excited about receiving this recognition; it made her feel that her life’s work was being honored. In ending Director, Dr. Badiul Alam Majumder mentioned that development of a country is never possible without development of its women. He also profusely thanked everybody involved in making the event possible.

In addition to the main speakers many other people were present in the audience on the occasion. Among them were a good number of representatives from various social and cultural organizations, members and representatives of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, teachers, guardians of students and students from various educational institutions and so on. The whole program that lasted for more than 3 hours was made highly enjoyable by the enthusiasm of the participants and guests.