Thursday, January 8, 2009

Breaking the silence

Breaking the silence

By Maskwaith Ahsan

It's no longer a dream. Breaking centuries of silence, the women of
Bangladesh have finally stood up to contribute to society alongside men.

The pioneer of Bengali women's emancipation, Begum Rokeya, in the
early 20thcentury wrote
*Abarodhbasini* (Women Inside the Door) based on the misery and distress of
women in the patriarchal society of that time.

Holding onto her dreams, Begum Rokeya also wrote *Sultanar Sopna* (Sultana's

Overcoming all social and religious barriers, 21st century Bangladesh has
finally started to realize and live up to that dream. Bengali women are now
visible. They can be seen holding and living up to their leadership
responsibilities in every viable walk of society. Keen to contribute to
national progress, such women are moving ahead with quality and competence.

Bangladesh hopes that its society will finally be able to breathe change and
develop radically due to the dynamic presence of women in the government and
political arena.

A total of 23 constituencies were triumphed over by female candidates in the
December 29, 2008, parliamentary elections. These include the heads of both
the major political parties, Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Khaleda Zia.

A record number of 56 women had contested Bangladesh's ninth general
elections. But what is really significant and surprising is the fact that
women legislators have been selected for key positions in the newly formed
32-member cabinet. This reflects the kind of change that has the potential
to bring balance and harmony to society.

The head of Awami League, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, has become the prime minister
of the country for the second time. And leader of the main opposition
Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Khaleda Zia, will be the countering force. The
two female leaders have led the country by turns since 1991.

The new and refreshing aspect of the latest government chessboard is the
presence of women on other powerful posts as well, like that of the foreign,
home and agricultural ministers.

Dr Dipu Moni will be Bangladesh's next foreign minister, Advocate Sahara
Khatun the new home minister, and Motia Chowdhury will head the agriculture

Another female politician Begum Munnuzan Sufian has been appointed State
Minister for Labour and Employment.

It needs to be mentioned here that veteran politician Motia Chowdhury earned
success fighting for the rights of farmers as Agriculture Minister during
the Awami League-led government of 1996-2001.

The people of Bangladesh voted for change and they have their hopes pinned
on these women leaders to bring in a new era of prosperity and development.


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