She also placed three proposals before the world leaders at the meeting that need to be addressed properly to ensure gender equality.

The prime minister in her maiden proposal said, “I commend you for founding the Advisory Board on Gender Equality. This now needs to be localised. We need gender champions at every level, especially at the grassroots level, and we can lead by example.”

She also said her government has made special allocation for women-led SME sector, introduced special skill projects in all districts, and announced interest-free mortgage and loan facilities for women entrepreneurs

Secondly, she said that the women-led organisations need to be nurtured and supported with sufficient political and financial means.

The UN has an important role in supporting such efforts, she added.

In her third and final proposal, she said, “I invite you to convene a leaders’ summit to reinforce our common agenda for gender equality. All leaders - not just us - should join and present concrete commitments for advancing gender equality.”

The prime minister said that the impacts of Covid-19 have been especially hard for women.

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“Unpaid care work has increased. Gender-based violence has risen. UNICEF anticipates additional 10 million child marriages before the end of this decade,” she continued.

“In Bangladesh, special emphasis has been laid to empower women”, she said.

In political empowerment of women, she said, Bangladesh ranked 7th in the world while the increased number of women is joining the workforce.

“Almost 70 per cent of the healthcare workers are women, and they are in the frontline in the battle against Covid-19 pandemic”, she said.

Almost 70 per cent of the healthcare workers are women, and they are in the frontline in the battle against Covid-19 pandemic
Sheikh HasinaSheikh Hasina

“More than 80 per cent of our RMG workers are women. Women constitute the majority in the informal economy. Many of them lost their jobs and income. Two million migrant workers, including women have returned home,” Sheikh Hasina added.

The prime minister said that our hard-earned progress is at risk of rollback.

“We need to act urgently to stop this. For that, we must place women at the front and center of Covid recovery,” she continued.

In Bangladesh, to keep our economy afloat in the pandemic, she said, “We announced 28 stimulus packages worth 14.6 billion US dollars. Our social safety net programmes have been expanded to cover 11 million people, most of whom are women and children.”

She also said her government has made special allocation for women-led SME sector, introduced special skill projects in all districts, and announced interest-free mortgage and loan facilities for women entrepreneurs.

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“Our 333 ‘helpline’ is saving many women and girls from violence and child marriage,” said the prime minister.

Sheikh Hasina recalled that she pledged to raise women’s participation in the workforce to 50:50 by 2041 in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference.

Recently at the Generation Equality Forum Paris, she said she committed to ensuring gender equality in ICT sector by 2041. “I stand by those commitments,” she added.

Hasina joins opening day high-level general debate of 76th UNGA

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina attended the high-level General Debate of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on the first day today.

The General Debate will be held between 21 September and 27 September.

Sheikh Hasina will speak at the debate on 24 September. She will deliver her speech in Bangla like in the previous years following the footprint of Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who had delivered his historic speech at the UN in Bangla in 1974.

The 76th session of the UNGA opened on 14 September. On that day, Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives was sworn in as the General Assembly president and he opened the 76th session.

Due to the global pandemic, the number of delegations allowed into the General Assembly Hall is limited and UN Member States were encouraged to provide pre-recorded statements instead of representing in person at UN Headquarters.

Over 100 heads of state or government are expected to attend in person.

The UN General Assembly is the main policy-making organ of the United Nations.

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