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It is my privilege to convey the congratulations of the wider Commonwealth family to the people of Bangladesh as we join in celebrating fifty years since independence.

We have witnessed impressive progress in Bangladesh over the past fifty years to advance the wellbeing of the people of the nation – from improving health, sanitation, financial inclusion, and women’s political representation, to progressing commitments and showing leadership in addressing the impacts of climate change, and advocating environmental protection. I am especially pleased to note that Bangladesh leads the way on gender parity ratings in South Asia.

Since joining the Commonwealth in 1972, the year following independence, Bangladesh has participated as a committed and much-valued member of our Commonwealth family. The government, people and institutions of the nation contribute in practical and visionary ways to collaboration among our 54 member countries on a broad range of issues, from connectivity and trade, to women’s rights, sport, climate action and ocean governance.

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Bangladeshi people have made many contributions to our collective advocacy and action on contemporary and emerging global challenges. A splendid example of this is our 2021 Commonwealth Young Person of Year, Faysal Islam, who is from Bangladesh. He was selected from among more than 1,000 nominations to be recognised in this way for his initiative in developing and delivering a project providing low-cost ambulances and medical care to rural people. Faysal demonstrates ingenuity as well as those distinctive characteristics of Commonwealth cooperation - concern and commitment to the poorer, the weaker and the more vulnerable people of our countries and communities.

Leaders and representatives of other Commonwealth nations will be joining with the people of Bangladesh in the celebrations this week. This is a true reflection of what we hold dear in the Commonwealth – that we are a family of nations.

During the past fifty years, and particularly in recent months, we have been through challenging times. Even with the current severe economic and social disruption and necessary restrictions on travel and public gatherings because of COVID-19, I sincerely hope the government and people of Bangladesh people will enjoy a memorable and uplifting 50th independence day as they unite in celebration of their achievement in building a strong, inclusive, vibrant and resilient nation.

* Patricia Scotland is the Commonwealth Secretary General

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