Celebrating International Women's Day 2012 in Bangladesh

Women-and-Girls-are-enjoying-the-IWD-rally-cropped.jpg

Every year in Bangladesh, the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum (NGCAF) — of which The Hunger Project (THP)-Bangladesh is a convening member — picks a day, adopts a theme and organizes a celebration to commemorate International Women's Day. This year the theme was "Empower Rural Women: Create a Hunger and Poverty Free Country." The celebrations took place on March 10 and included a rally and a mass gathering of about 2,000 people, at the Dhaka Central Shahid Minar, at the heart of the city.

The very colorful rally was made up of members and supporters from 35 organizations who had come together under the NGCAF banner. The rally congregated at 3:00 p.m. in front of the National Museum and ended as a mass gathering at the Shahid Minar. Chairman of the National Girl Child Advocacy forum, Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, chaired the event and Dilip Kumar Sharkar was the main presenter. The mass gathering included the reading and signing of a declaration, empowering speeches from important guests and an award giving ceremony, punctuated by a cultural event. The event lasted till 6:30 p.m.

The rally was inaugurated by the chief guest renowned Language Movement Activist, Abdul Matin. For his welcome speech the chief guest highlighted the need to establish equal rights for men and women. He believed that establishing women’s engagement in every sector including education will ensure progressive development of the country. The chief news editor of Bangladesh Television, Rafiqul Islam Sharkar, highlighted that for the theme of the day’s celebration to be successful, we should emphasize on the empowerment and development of the rural women.

The rally ended at the Shahid Minar grounds where the celebratory events started with the en masse singing of the National Anthem and the presentation of the theme song. The event was then officiated by THP-staff member Nasima Akhter Jolly, also the Secretary of National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, who presented the welcome speech. In the speech she put forth several recommendations for the improvement of women’s position in society and urged the policymakers to take heed.

A declaration was then read by Rafiqul Islam Sharkar. The declaration had seven parts in it which included the proper implementation of the National Women's Policy-2011, the encouragement of women in politics and political empowerment of women, creation of new opportunities in ensuring proper service from government and non-government health care providing institutions for the neglected women at the grassroots, awareness and action against all types of violence against women and girl children including trafficking, eve-teasing and domestic violence and to create a social movement to achieve all of the MDGs goals; especially goals 3,4,5 and 6, within a targeted time frame.

An award giving ceremony was then conducted. Two special guests were honored for the important impacts their work has had on empowering women. Awards were given to Dr. Halima Khatun, retired professor of Dhaka University and Language Movement Activist, and to Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy, THP-Bangladesh woman leader and mayor of Narayanganj City Corporation.

A small drama and several songs and dances, performed by members of organizations, volunteers and students, interspersed the event. Prominent members of society, celebrated cultural personnel, leading social workers and activists all expressed their support for the theme and the importance of the day’s celebrations. The day’s events ended with the signing of an enlarged banner with the declaration written on it. By signing this declaration, all present pledged to start an awareness building campaign based on the theme: "Girl Children are Assets, not Burdens" and to diminish all inequality against girl children.