- Published on Thursday, 21 September 2017 11:13
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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said women should be supported with education, training, right tools and access to equal opportunities for their empowerment for a successful realization of the sustainable development for all.
"Women empowerment is a must for successful achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as women are the most important drivers of transformation," she said.
Through empowerment of women in all sectors the world can most effectively be succeeded in realizing the sustainable development for all," she added.
The prime minister said this while addressing a Roundtable of UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel (HLP) on Women's Economic Empowerment for Leaving No One Behind at UN Headquarters here yesterday.
To overcome existing challenges of women empowerment, the prime minister called for recognizing the unaccounted work of women, build more support facilities for women workers and eliminate social stereotypes.
Sheikh Hasina said, in the political spectrum, Bangladesh has ensured representation of women at all levels, from the top to the lowest tier of the government. To attain SDGs on women empowerment, priority was given to women's economic engagement in the 7th Five Year Plan, she said.
The prime minister said 27% of annual budget of Bangladesh is allocated for women's social and economic empowerment activities. The government is committed to ensuring an 'enabling environment' to unleash the potentials of women in the labour and entrepreneurial sector, she said.
Group of Champions for Women's Economic Empowerment and UN Women has organized the roundtable to take forward the recommendations made by the UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel (HLP) on Women's Economic Empowerment, with a focus on 'Leaving No One Behind'.
President of Costa Rica Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka also spoke on the occasion.
Highlighting her government's initiatives to bring the womenfolk in the forefront of all economic activities, the prime minister said 10 percent of posts for women are reserved in judicial, administrative, civil service, armed forces and law enforcement agencies.
Sixty percent posts of primary school teachers are reserved for women and the government has allowed six months' paid maternity leave for working women in both private and public sectors.
Sheikh Hasina said the central bank of Bangladesh is providing collateral- free loan up to Tk. 2.5 million to the women entrepreneurs. Fifteen percent funds of the refinancing scheme, 10 percent industrial plots and 10 percent small entrepreneur funds are allocated for women. Every bank and non-bank financial institutions have a dedicated desk for women entrepreneurs.
The prime minister said the government's micro-finance schemes and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been contributing to poverty reduction and women empowerment. At least 10 percent of all credit is allocated to women- led SMEs.
The government has established a foundation namely 'Joyeeta' to promote women in businesses and entrepreneurship, which provides support to as many as 18,000 grassroots level women entrepreneurs, she said.
The government is providing skill development training, like sewing, beautification, mobile phone servicing, nursery, kitchen gardening, basic computer and IT training etc, to facilitate self-employment of women, she said adding that as a result, women's participation in our economy is increasing.
The prime minister said over four million women are employed in the readymade garments industry sector. Thirty five percent of women have bank accounts. Women's contribution to the GDP growth is 34 percent.
The government of Bangladesh aims at ensuring 40 percent participation of women in every sector by 2021 and 50 percent by 2030, she said.
The HLP, established in 2016, was tasked with developing an action-oriented agenda in support of women's economic empowerment, and produced two reports, which identifies seven drivers of change and present recommendations for transformative actions necessary to advance women's economic empowerment.
Earlier, the prime minister joined the official luncheon at General Assembly Building hosted by the UN Secretary General in honour of the heads of government and state now in New York to attend the 72nd UN General Assembly.
Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol