Human Chains in Support of New Policy for Women in Bangladesh
April 13, 2011 marked another significant day for the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum (NGCAF) in Bangladesh (a network of more than 300 organizations working to promote the rights of girl children, whose formation was led by The Hunger Project). Human chains were put together to demonstrate support for the newly proposed Women’s Development Policy 2011.
The policy aims to secure a more active role for women in various sectors of national life, a progressive step to ensure that Bangladesh’s women enjoy equal rights with men politically, economically and socially.
Human chains were organized simultaneously in 64 districts by the NGCAF in partnership with many other like-minded groups, organizations and socially aware individuals.
In Dhaka, the human chain was formed in Manik Miya Avenue, in front of the Parliament building. Some 500 participants, men and women alike, stood under the scorching summer sun for two hours, to show their support. Over 45 groups and organizations brought their banners and stood together as a distinct entity to create national awareness. Key people such as the advisor to the Care Taker Government Rasheda K. Chowdhury, researcher and columnist Syed Abul Maksud, and The Hunger Project-Bangladesh Country Director Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar were present at the event.
The event also aimed to oppose those who had misinterpreted the policy and called for a national strike against it. The controversy around the policy is that some believe that it goes against the Islamic religion. Through the event, the NGCAF and other supporters shared their outrage at this notion, stating that the Quran conveys equality and self-esteem for all men and women and Islam encourages positive transformations.
The demonstration created significant public awareness. Participants demanded an immediate implementation of the policy and the undertaking of a national pledge to ensure equal rights for women in Bangladesh. They urged all socially aware citizens to come forth and show their opposition for the extremist groups. It has taken 14 years for this policy to come to light, and the team in Bangladesh does not wish to let another 14 years pass by hoping for its execution. Everyone in attendance appealed to the government to fast track the implementation of the policy.