Discussion Meeting on “Enactment of Uniform Family Code: Implementation of CEDAW”

To observe the International Day of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) a discussion meeting on “Enactment of Uniform Family Code: Implementation of CEDAW ” was held on 03, September 2023 at 3:30 pm.

Dr.Fauzia Moslem, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) chaired the meeting.

Debahuti Chakraborty, International subcommittee secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, presented the keynote paper. Ferdous Ara Begum, Former member of the UN CEDAW Committee, and Prof. Shahnaz Huda, from the Department of Law, University of Dhaka graced the occasion as special guests. Helena Manisha Sarkar, general secretary of YWCA of Bangladesh, Gita Biswas, vice president of Mahila Oikya Parishad, Rakhi Mrong, Vice president of Bangladesh Adivasi Union, and Sebika Debnath, senior reporter from Bhorer Kagoj were presented as discussants.

In the keynote paper presentation, it is stated that reservations on two clauses 2 and 16.1(C) of the CEDAW Convention are creating huge obstacles in the protection of women’s rights. Due to the lack of equal rights in personal life, traditional patriarchal attitudes of the societies towards women, increasing violence, and the delayed justice system in the cases of violence cannot able to ensure equal dignity and equal rights in the life of women, despite the positive aspects of protecting the rights and dignity of women according to the constitution and different initiatives taken by the government including various law reforms. The areas of deprivation of women’s personal life are interrelated with each other which is creating marginalization in the position of women. Recently, different communities have become vocal about divorce, and inheritance of property, and many of them are also opposed. In this case, BMP urged the state to take responsibility for taking action to implement the discriminatory family law in the context of the Constitution of Bangladesh and the CEDAW Convention.

As special guests, Ferdous Ara Begum and Professor Shahnaz Huda stated that the Bangladesh Government has formulated and implemented many women-friendly laws, but has not been able to ratify the CEDAW convention fully. As a result, the CEDAW convention also cannot be converted into a law. And not been able to raise it in court. BMP initially made progress in promoting the consistent Family Law, but discrimination against women has existed yet now. They have given emphasized that full ratification of the CEDAW Convention and Uniform Family Code formation are necessary to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

General Secretary Maleka Banu said the government of Bangladesh has upheld reservations on Article 2 and Article 16.1(C) of the CEDAW convention. It’s a reflection of discriminatory attitudes in our societies towards women’s rights and establishing gender equality.

Dr. Fauzia Moslem said that the movement for a uniform family code has been going on for over two decades, and gender issues have become a national concern. As a result, changes have come to women’s mindset. However, the law is not being enforced, communalism is growing, and religion is being used against women mostly. To effectively implement of uniform family code, the women’s movement needs to be more proactive, women need to be skilled in their own thinking and action, and the government needs to research gender issues. She also said that everyone should make a united movement to eliminate the ongoing inequalities and discriminations and hatred attitudes belongs in society.

The other discussants Helen Manisha Sarkar, Gita Biswas, Rakhi Mong, and Sebika Debnath discussed the challenges of Christian women faces in divorce cases; lack of property rights for Hindu women; lack of land rights and divorce compensation for Adivasi, Saotal, and Malo women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts; the importance of formulation and implementation of UFC (Uniform Family Code) to ensure equal rights for women and men. They also stated it can’t be said that the steps of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs’ are very strong in implementing the CEDAW convention, in this situation, women’s movement and women’s organizations should continue the efforts consistently to full implementation of the CEDAW convention.

The leaders and secretaries of central and Dhaka city committees of BMP, representatives among Social Action Committee – Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association, Women for Women,Kormojibi Nari, journalists and officers of BMP were present at the discussion meeting.

Luna Nur, International Sub-Committee member of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) conducted the meeting.

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