Dhaka, 14 October 2020. The National Committee for the Observation of the International Rural Women’s Day organized a virtual press conference today on the eve of the International Rural Women’s Day. The day is going to be observed tomorrow. At the press conference, it was said that, rural women are neglected, their contribution is not recognized. Therefore, rural women are more likely to be vulnerable to discrimination and oppression. All forms of violence against women, especially violations against rural women, have increased during the COVID19 period. The way violence against women, especially rural women, is on the rise as a shadow epidemic in the COVID pandemic, the days ahead will become more insecured if it is not socially prevented along with legal action. We have to ensure the rights and dignity that every woman deserves. Also, all sorts of violence against women must be dealt with speedy trial law.
According to the organizers, International Rural Women’s Day is being celebrated in over 50 districts of the country. Like every year, the day is being celebrated across the country through various events and various programs including awarding honors to rural women for their contribution in various fields. They also said that since 2000, various voluntary and development organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh have been celebrating Rural Women’s Day with their own funds. It is to be noted that EquityBD is acting as the secretariat of the National Committee for the Celebration of International Rural Women’s Day.
Salma Sabiha of COAST Trust presented the keynote on behalf of the organizers at the press conference chaired by Shamima Akhtar, Chairperson of the National Committee for the Observation of the International Rural Women’s Day, while Mustafa Kamal Akand, Coordinator of the Secretariate of the National Committee, moderated the conference. National Committee Member Ferdous Ara Rumi, Masuda Faruk Ratna of Gram Bikash Sangstha, Pratibha Banerjee from BNNRC, Manjushree Saha from Rangpur, Swapan Kumar Guha of Rupantar, Akbar Hossain of Rangpur Pratibondhi Sangstha, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST Trust, Sabrina Akhtar of Wise, Mr. AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC also spoke at the press conference.
In her keynote address, Salma Sabiha said, we need social initiative along with legal actions. All women should call the hotline number (10921) of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to seek protection and services from violence. There should be awareness and campaign among women so they can easily get services from the National Emergency Number 999 and Prevention of Violence Against Women and Child Marriage Number 109. The government should plan a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy on any kind of violence against women. She added that 98% of women have lost their jobs because of the direct impact of COVID-19, who are mainly domestic workers, cleaners, garment workers, and temporary workers in the construction sector, only 8.50% received the wages/salary of March. In March alone, there were 64 incidents of rape and over 300 cases of domestic violence in Bogra, Jamalpur, and Cox’s Bazar districts. In April, 4,249 women were victims of various forms of violence, the lion’s share of whom were rural women.
Ferdous Ara Rumi said, the patriarchic mentality of men is mainly responsible for the inferior position of women in society. It is not possible to bring equality to women without eliminating discrimination and violence against women. The most horrific and heinous form of violence against women is rape. According to the Ain o Shalish Kendro, there were 975 rapes in August alone. Moreover, an average of 111 women is raped every month. Most of them are rural women and children.
Shamima Akhter said, we should take joint efforts to address the barriers of rural women. We will stand by women in the violence against women during the COVID-19 period.
Manjushree Saha said, the contribution of rural women in development is immense. Especially in agriculture. Building resistance to violence against rural women is not the only issue. Everyone, including the public representatives and the local government, have to work together.
Masuda Farooq Ratna said, the overall development of women is not possible leaving rural women behind. Even among rural women, physically challenged and mentally handicapped women and children are more vulnerable to violence. We need to think about them especially. She also said that, rural women should be developed and brought into the mainstream to celebrate International Women’s Day together. Press Release [Bangla] [English]