Prime Minister calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza
Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), November 6, 2023 (BASS): Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the illegal occupation of the territory. He said, ‘I call on all parties to guarantee humanitarian aid to Gaza and an immediate ceasefire. I call on world leaders to play a role in ending this horrific war, indiscriminate killings and illegal occupation.’ He made this call while addressing the inaugural session of the International Conference on ‘Women’s Dignity and Empowerment in Islam’ here.
Sheikh Hasina said, ‘We must be united for an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. I will continue my role on behalf of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.’
The Prime Minister said that they should listen to the voice of Muslim women for peace. “We condemn the Israeli atrocities against innocent women and children in Gaza,” he said. This atrocity in Gaza is reminiscent of the 200,000 women who were subjected to inhuman torture during our liberation war in 1971.’ The prime minister also said, ‘These brutal incidents remind me of the brutal killing of my parents and other family members including women and children on August 15, 1975.’ “It paints a picture of the torture of thousands of persecuted Rohingya women and children in Myanmar – who sought refuge at our border in August 2017 after suffering atrocities,” he said.
The Prime Minister gave a bunch of advice for Muslim women. The suggestions are:
First, an immediate end to the conflict in Palestine and the prosecution of crimes against humanity committed there – especially against women and children.
Second, say ‘no’ to all crime, violence, discrimination and growing Islamophobia against women.
Third, focus on achieving gender equality and empowering women to achieve SDG-5.
Fourth, ensure that Muslim women can freely present themselves in public as they wish.
Fifth, Bangladesh is a shining example of women’s empowerment and mainstreaming, and is ready to share its experiences with friendly Muslim countries.
The Prime Minister said that the OIC is a platform where dialogue is expected on these much awaited issues.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh realized its potential in women’s empowerment and joined the Women’s Development Organization (WDO) of the OIC very soon. He said, ‘The WDO has begun its journey and I hope that this mandate can be expanded to include today’s needs through a better understanding of Islam. And only then can we dream of a non-discrimination, peaceful and prosperous world. I wish the success of this international conference.’
Sheikh Hasina thanked Saudi Arabia and OIC for highlighting the status of women in Islam at this international conference. The Prime Minister said, ‘We observe with interest the groundbreaking initiatives of Saudi Arabia for the liberation of women. I appreciate this transformative vision of His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Prince.’ Calling Islam a religion of peace, harmony and humanity, he said that the first woman to accept Islam was Bibi Khadija at the call of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace. Quoting the verses of Surah An-Nisa of the Holy Quran, Sheikh Hasina said, “And fear Allah, in whose name you seek the rights of each other and blood relations. Indeed, Allah is Ever-Watcher over you.’ He said Bangladesh has a proud tradition of protecting women’s rights and gender equality. There are pioneers like Bangladesh’s Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, who envisioned a world led by women in her book ‘Sultana’s Dream’ published in 1905. Quoting the national poet of Bangladesh, Kazi Nazrul Islam in English, he said, “Whatever great creations in the world, eternally beneficial, are half made by women, half by men.”
Sheikh Hasina said that under the guidance of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the equal status of women was confirmed in the constitution of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu in 1973 made provision for 15 reserved seats for women in the first Parliament. The Prime Minister said that as her daughter, she continued this work of women empowerment and increased the number of seats reserved for women to 50. There are now 73 women MPs in our National Parliament. Sheikh Hasina said, ‘Women have always been at the forefront of our economic development, social reform and democratic struggle. I urge them to change their situation through work themselves.’ He said that Bangladesh is among the top ten countries in the world in the global index of women’s political empowerment. The Prime Minister said, ‘We have a unique example – where the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Leader of the Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition and
The deputy leaders of the government party are all women. Also in our local government system one-third seats are reserved for women.’ Sheikh Hasina said that her political party Bangladesh Awami League is working to increase the representation of women at all levels.
He said, ‘Every time I came in charge, I tried to remove all barriers to promote women in decision making. I am proud to see our women occupying top positions in the administration, judiciary, universities, armed forces, financial institutions and trade organizations.’ The Prime Minister also said that their girls from remote areas are participating in public examinations, competitive recruitment and national level sports. He said, ‘As the host of the Islamic University of Technology, I invite young women from OIC member countries to study in this excellent institution.’ The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh government is currently constructing 564 model mosques and Islamic centers across the country with facilities for women. The recent socio-economic progress of Bangladesh is also a proof of the meaningful participation of our women.
The Head of Government of Bangladesh said, ‘About 46% of our formal economy is women workers. Women entrepreneurs are making a major contribution to our cottage, small and micro industries. Women have a vibrant presence in IT freelancing, e-commerce and start-ups.’ Sheikh Hasina said, ‘Our government is working to increase women’s access to finance, markets, ideas and training.’ Six months paid maternity leave is granted in government sector. She said, ‘We are continuing to work with our partners to ensure the safety and well-being of women workers working abroad. Poor, widowed, abandoned, disabled and elderly women are benefiting through various social security programs of the government. The government provides joint ownership of free housing and shelter to both husband and wife, so that it is transferred to the wife in case of separation. Social movements against dowry, child marriage and cyber harassment are growing.
The Prime Minister said, ‘Now it is mandatory to use mother’s name in all national identity cards as per the law. We are implementing a national action plan for women peace and security workers. Our women peacekeepers are proudly serving the United Nations Mission in Africa.’