President’s Speech on 44th Founding Anniversary

By on April 17, 2014
Ayesha_Khanam

Journey Towards Women’s Empowerment

44 Years of Struggle

- Ayesha Khanam, President, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad

4th April 2014 is 44th birth anniversary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad. Historically BMP was founded with a definite objective to establish Women Human Rights, democratic and equity based society and state on the basis of humanitarian principles. For the last 44 years almost half a century this organization is working relentlessly in a multi-dimensional way with a right based approach, to promote and protect Women Human Rights in Bangladesh. To create more broader space in the life of all walks of women, to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. During its four and half decades journey it has attained certain features which makes it different or special from many others. From its very inception BMP’s main salient feature is –

  • Non-communal secular, democratic, progressive humanitarian culture and principles.
  • Its voluntarism and patriotism
  • Relentless / non-stop quest and struggle for innovating the rights and process to adapt for promoting the existing subjugated position of women in the family, society and state.
  • To empower women economically, politically, socially and culturally.
  • To resist and eliminate all kinds of violence and discrimination which is exist in against women and girls in the family, society and state.
  • Strengthening and deepening democracy and democratic culture in every sphere of life.
  • Transparency and accountability in its organizational life.

During this long years of struggle BMP now has been identified as a strong advocacy lobby agent for policy intervention and for pro-gender policy and programs and culture in the state.

As a women organization it has been engaged in the effort of integrating general mass women in the mainstream political process and policy making process of all state institutions in all tiers.

During this period BMP’s remarkable stands are organizing a conscious integrated, target bounded law reform movement.

From 1972 to 2014 during this 42 years BMP played a role as voice raiser, as an opinion builder, as a drafter and implementer of all the laws which has been introduced by the successive governments related to women’s human rights and gender equality, to establish equality between men and women in the case of marriage, divorce, guardianship and laws of inheritance.

BMP has proposed a forward looking, advance, modern, scientific alternative family laws named Uniform Family Code (UFC) which has become able to get support from national women’s movement and also to draw the attentions of regional and global women’s human rights movement and UNCSW and UNCEDAW committee.

From 1980 BM started its effort to resist all forms of violence against women in a multi-dimensional way. By running a free legal aid clinic, law reform movement, giving legal and paralegal training to the mass women, running a home for deserted, destitute women and girls, women and girls who are victim of violence and trafficking BMP become a center of hope for distress and destitute women and girls. Through alternative dispute resolution process BMP playing the role of facilitator for corers of women and women and affected family members. The multi-sectoral approach for resisting Violence against Women and Girls adapted by BMP in 1984-85 now day by day getting importance and become popular day by day. CSW 2013 had focused highly on the multi-sectoral approach to resist and eliminate all kinds of violence against women and girls. From an on depth survey and both internal and external study BMP found as a agent of change which is working as an umbrella force or strength for hundreds of thousands of women in Bangladesh.

To aware general mass women and raising their consciousness as a citizen of a society and state, BMP for 4 decades running training program with a concrete gender lensed training module. By introducing gender certificate course and running and organizing study circle among young men and women, BMP opened a new venue for inclusion young in this women’s movement. We are grateful to our resource persons.

As BMP started it’s functioning during the time of liberation war from its very inception it has been linked with the regional and global women’s movements and organizations. Now, it is very closely working with UNWOMEN, CSW. As an ECOSOC affiliated organization it has been linked very closely and working with the global women’s human rights movements. In the light of Vienna, UNCEDAW, Beijing and other UNHR declaration it has updated its programs after nineties.

As BMP believes women’s movement is a part and parcel of national democratic movement of a country and state, BMP as an organization and its leaders are actively engaged in all of the national democratic movements. Organizing and participating in the 1971 liberation war by the leadership of our founder president Poet Sufia Kamal and other 1st generation leading organizers, till now BMP has been very closely engaged each and every democratic struggle. All kinds of non-communal democratic movements BMP always stood without any hesitation in each and every effort against all kinds of communal, religious fundamentalist and autocratic trends.

To establish a non-communal, secular, democratic, equity based society; BMP has been following multi-dimensional approaches, BMP individually trying to organize a strong mass women’s movement within the society and state at a time it is trying to build up a strong united national women’s movement. Sometimes in the name of “Oikkoboddha Nari Somaj” and other names.

For the last 14 years a loose united platform has been initiated, organized and running by BMP named “Social Action Committee”. BMP playing a role of political consciousness raiser within the society and state and it is very vocal for women’s political participation in every tier of state and government. It is BMP who drafted a bill with concrete recommendation (Draft Bill, Bangladesh Constitution (Fourteenth) Amendment ACT,-2000) in 1999 for direct election in the parliament and submitted to the then government and parliamentary standing committee law justice and parliamentary affairs. Movement is still continuing. BMP has an endless effort to make women folk as a organized, conscious political force of Bangladesh. BMP trying its best to make women of Bangladesh efficient, skill, conscious as a voter as a policy maker in the highest policy making level to grass-root level. It is working for one third (1/3) representative in the parliament and in every national institute from top to bottom.

For gender mainstreaming in the national economic development planning program and policies BMP has a conscious advance initiatory role in the movement of making gender sensitive national five years development plan policies, engendering IPRSP, developing gender responsive budget initiative started from 1984 to 2014. BMP has pioneering role in all this process.

As an advocacy lobby agent BMP has a continuous regular activity in intervening government’s policy program related o gender equality. Started from 1996-97 till now in the history of ups and downs of women’s development policies, BMP playing a pivotal role in main drafting process protecting it main spirit and hard-core policies and resisting all kind of hindrance in the implementation of National Women Development Policy (NWDP).

 

Very brief / in short the history of BMP is the history of women’s movement in Bangladesh after independence. Though Bangladesh Mahila Parishad has lots of limitations in terms of resource, skill, capacity, smart leadership, but still it will not be exaggerated comment to point out BMP as one of pioneer organization for women’s empowerment and gender equality in Bangladesh.

Keeping in mind and thought in its thousands of programs and activities the long cherished ideology of the pioneers of global and regional women’s movement like Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain, Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sufia Kamal and others leaders, Mahila Parishad trying its best to carry the torch that lighted by those forerunners. On the eve of the 44th birth anniversary I on behalf of BMP and its 1.5 Million general members like to express gratitude and congratulate our countrymen both men and women, progressive, democratic political parties and forces, intellectuals, journalists, lawyers, civil society progressive organizations, NGOs, Human Rights organizations, cultural activists and movements for their continuous support and active co-operation in this long journey. My gratitude knew no bounds to those hundreds and thousands of worker organizers who are carrying the torch of voluntarism and relentless struggle for long years.

In spite of its relentless struggle for promoting women’s human rights there is many important hurdles and lots of concern are there. Domestic violence and all kind of violence are increasing day by day, security of women’s and girls are at stake till now, laws are not implementing in a proper way for lack of consciousness and lack of proper institutional process. Patriarchy is still dominating in the family society and state.

Religious extremism has taken its many many ugly forms which is great hindrance for women’s human rights. In this regards our slogan is “Stop using religion in politics, enhance and promote women’s human rights, establish gender equality and democracy. Bangladesh Mahila Parishad as a organization and as a movement has walked a long way and still there is a long way to go. BMP and its workers followers and supporters must get ready to face 21st century with its enormous possibilities and hundreds of new challenges have been created by this new era. We have to walk faster stronger in a more skilled and dynamic way.

About Bangladesh Mahila Parishad