UN Women Representative in Bangladesh, Gitanjali Singh
Prothom Alo

The UN Women Representative in Bangladesh, Gitanjali Singh, has lauded Prothom Alo as it has been playing a crucial role in discharging social duties alongside its core duty of publishing news.

She, while paying a courtesy call on Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman at his office on Tuesday, also appreciated the leading newspaper’s policy towards women and underscored the need for having the policy in other institutions as well.

Gitanjali reached the Prothom Alo office in the capital’s Karwan Bazar area in the afternoon. Prothom Alo managing editor Anisul Hoque, associate editor Sumona Sharmin, head of English Web Ayesha Kabir, assistant editor Firoz Choudhury, and UN Women’s communication analyst Shararat Islam were present during her meeting with editor Matiur Rahman.

The UN Women delegation has been apprised of the wide range of activities and initiatives of Prothom Alo, including its print and online version, digital section, various supplements, Prothoma Prokashon, Chorki, Bondhushava, Prothom Alo Trust, Prothom Alo Pathshala, Student Stipend, Adamya Medhabi fund, the best taxpayer awards of Prothom Alo and its editor, and other achievements at home and abroad.

Prothom Alo's journalists welcome Gitanjali Singh with floral wreath at its office.
Prothom Alo

Also, two video clips of Prothom Alo – ‘Fire that spread everywhere’ on SAAF championship-winning national women football team and ‘Seven braves’ on girls who foiled their early marriage bids – were screened before the UN Women delegation.

Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman said Prothom Alo is something more than a newspaper and works for betterment of the society.

Prothom Alo has long been working with Acid Survivals’ Foundation (ASF) and BRAC for the prevention of acid violence. Acid violence has reduced now comparing 20 years ago. Prothom Alo has been conducting awareness campaign against drug.

Prothom Alo provides stipend to poor students and award the 'First Female in the Family’ scholarship at Asian University of Women. Several of those girls who received this scholarship are working abroad now. There have also been many changes following the report published in Prothom Alo. Electricity arrived in the village of women footballers, Kalsindur. Prothom Alo also collected a Tk 15 million fund and handed over it to SAFF Women Football championship winner, he added.

UN Women representative in Bangladesh Gitanjali Singh said the social activities of Prothom Alo are very commendable.

Prothom Alo is only media in Bangladesh that has a written policy on women, she said adding said her organisation is keen to work on how this model can be spread among other media and organisation and how people can be held accountable on gender equality.

More emphasis should be given to prevention of violence against women and children and it is necessary to ensure protection measures so that a woman can return home safely from her workplace,  Gitanjali Singh observed.

When asked about the measures necessary to lessen gender discrimination and violence to women and children, Gitanjali Singh said people need to change their attitudes towards women. It is necessary to bring changes to our social thoughts to stop early marriages.

She said the prime minister Sheikh Hasina is sincere to ensure women rights. However, the lengthy process of ensuring justice to women and the children are deemed as the main problem. Apart from this, there is a lack of willingness in implementing the laws to prevent the crime.    

Gitanjali Singh urged the government to collect actual data on violence and stress on the problems of physically challenged people, adding that the problems of women should be addressed first during any disasters and take actions accordingly.