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AIESEC, WeMen View and Prothom Alo Bondhushava, with support from Plan International, jointly conducted a survey recently, to determine the opinion of youth regarding CEDAW. Youth of the ages 10 to 25 took part in the online survey. The survey was based on articles 2 and 16 of the convention.

The main objective of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is to establish equal rights for women at a political, social and individual level by eliminating the existing disparities between men and women.

Among the 727 respondents, 52.3 per cent were women, 47.2 per cent men and 0.5per cent transgender. Age-wise, 123 of the respondents were 21 years old, 109 were 23, and 106 were 22. And 60 per cent of them were undergrads. The others included students of the higher secondary level and also of the Masters level. Many of the SSC and equivalent level also took part in the survey. Over 200 of the respondents were from Dhaka, while many were from Mymensingh, Rangpur, Chattogram, Cumilla and Narayanganj.

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The respondents were first asked if they believed in equal rights for men and women. In reply, 550 (75.7 per cent) replied in the affirmative and 19 (21.7 per cent) in the negative. A small percentage said they were unsure.

Of the respondents, 391, that is over half (53.8 per cent) said they were aware of CEDAW. Of the rest, 255 (30.9 per cent) said they didn’t know about it. And 111 (15.3 per cent) were not quite sure about it.

Among those aware of CEDAW, 48.8 per cent said they knew about it from the internet. And 26 per cent said they learnt about it in school.

When asked if they were ware that Bangladesh had laws that restricted the rights of women as laid down in CEDA, 47.5 per cent of the respondents said they were not aware of that. And 38.4 per cent said they had an idea about it.

Asked why CEDAW was important for Bangladesh, 72.8 per cent (529) of the respondents said that women in Bangladesh were often subject to discrimination. Of the respondents, 173 (23.8 per cent) said CEDAW was the only globally recognised instrument for women’s rights. And 25 (3.4 per cent) felt that since women had no night to ancestral property, such laws were unnecessary.

Replying to whether they knew about the inheritance laws in Bangladesh, 421 (57.9 per cent) said 191 (26.3 per cent) were unsure and 115 (15.8 per cent) said they did not know about this.

Do the prevailing laws in Bangladesh ensure equal rights for men and women? In reply, 51.3 per cent said ‘no’, 16.4 per cent said ‘yes’, and 32.3 per cent said they were nor clear about the laws. As to whether men and women should have equal rights to their parents’ property, 71.7 per cent (521) replied in the affirmative.

The last question of the survey was whether the existing laws that were discriminatory against women should be abolished, and 95.5 per cent said these should be abolished.

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The survey revealed that the respondents did not have a clear idea or adequate information about CEDAW and the relevant laws in Bangladesh. However, other than a very small percentage of the respondents, almost all felt that women were discriminated against in various ways and this discrimination must be removed.

Through the survey it was evident that a significant percentage of youth did not have a clear concept about CEDAW. However, a proper campaign could mobilise public awareness in this regard and lead to a state free of discrimination.

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