March 8, 2008: Bangladesh Celebrates International Women's Day

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"No discrimination, we want a world with equal rights"

By Nasima Akhter "Jolly"

As in recent years, The National Girl Child Advocacy Forum celebrated International Women’s Day through a number of programs that included rallies, seminars and cultural functions. The main event of the day was a rally that started from the foreground of the National Museum at 8.30 a.m. and broke up at 9.00 a.m. near the Centurions’ Corner of Ramna Park. More than a thousand men, women and adolescent girls and boys from as many as 52 organizations took part in the colorful rally which was inaugurated by noted movie star and cultural activist Kabori Sarwar. In her brief address she reiterated the need for men-women concerted efforts for ending all sorts of gender discrimination.

After the rally a seminar was held at the Ramna Park with Dr. Badiul Alam Majumder, President, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum in the chair. Dr. Halima Khatun, Professor, Dhaka University and a veteran of the language movement of 1952 was the chief guest.

The other distinguished persons who addressed the seminar as special guests were Dr.Tahmina Hossain, ex-secretary, ministry of women and children’s affairs, noted educationist and veteran of the language movement Rowshan Ara Bachchu, Vice President of National Girl Child Advocacy Forum and ex-professor of Dhaka University Ms. Latifa Akand, noted educationist Dr. Meher-e-Khoda, ex-chief news editor of Bangladesh Television Mr. Rafiqul Islam Sarker, famous singer Iffat Ara Nargis, national athlete Sufia Khatun and poet Lily Haque. Mrs. Tazima Majumdar, Volunteer, The Hunger Project Bangladesh, Ms. Nasima Akhter Jolly, secretary, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum delivered the address of welcome.

The central theme of the seminar was ‘No more discrimination, we want a world where there will be equality for women’. All the discussants expressed their viewpoints on the central theme and forcefully advocated equal rights and equal treatment for women and girl children in all spheres of national life. At one stage of the seminar internationally acclaimed sculptor and freedom fighter Ms. Ferdousi Priyabhasini and noted drama artist Ms. Dilara Zaman were accorded special honor for their laudable contributions towards social and cultural progress. The chairperson and the chief guest of the seminar respectively presented them two crests bearing citations of their achievements. Acknowledging the felicitation Ms. Priyabhasini said ‘I am looking forward to the day when there will be no need for observing women’s day separately, we shall observe one day only and that will be the human rights day.’ Narrating her own experience Ms. Dilara Zaman said, ‘I dream of a Bangladesh where not a single girl will be burnt with acid, not a single girl shall be suppressed.’ She also urged all the women to be very vocal for establishing their rights.

The chief guest of the seminar Dr. Helima Khatun called upon men and women alike to march forward and pull down all the systems that stand for all kinds of oppression and injustice. She finished her speech saying ‘Let us identify our own weaknesses and gather strength to move forward.’ Dr. Badiul Alam Majumder who chaired the seminar said in his presidential address ‘We should make society change its age-old attitude towards women and girl children. We should unite to bring an end to all kinds of discrimination and repression against women. We should all come forward, men and women alike, to build a society where equality and equity shall reign.’

Two other special guests, Dr. Tahmina Hossain and Prof. Latifa Akand stressed the need for ensuring equal rights for women and urged women to make an appraisal of their own position so that they can more effectively press for equal rights. In her address of welcome Nasima Akhter Jolly laid emphasis on the need for upholding the principles of women’s development policy and march forward for establishing a society free from discrimination and repression. She explained 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.

In addition to the main speakers many other people also spoke on the occasion. Among them were a good number of representatives form 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 songs, dances, play-acting, comic performance and lots of other entertainments.