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13 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Ensuring gender rights

Law is apparently meant only for people who has power and money but not for the poor especially women
Jakia Begum
Ensuring gender rights

Every day is women’s day. Why do we celebrate only one day for women? Each year International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. What is the reason behind this? Let’s see the background reason to celebrate this day. The original aim of International Women's Day was to achieve gender equality for women; however, this has not yet been realised. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. From that time every year thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women organizations, governments, charities, educational institutions’, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

There is a history to obey this day. The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York; it was organised by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. There was no specific strike happening on March 8, despite later claims.

In August 1910, an International Women's Conference was organised to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual 'International Woman's Day' and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference. Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women. The following year, on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations.

In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. Americans continued to celebrate National Women's Day on the last Sunday in February.

Although there were some women-lead strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, none of them happened on March 8. In 1914 International Women's Day was held on March 8, possibly because and that day was a Sunday, and possibly from that time now it is always held on March 8 in all countries.

We observe that in this day various organisations’ identify their own International Women's Day theme, specific to their local context and interests. Many charities, NGOs and Governments also adopt a relevant theme or campaign to mark the day. World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and more - run exciting and powerful campaigns that raise awareness and encourage donations for good causes.

But what happened after that? The UN has been declaring an annual equality theme for many years.  But even in this century it is seen that women forming two-third of the World’s total illiterate persons. In the case of Bangladesh, most of the women live in rural areas and majority of them are still deprived of basic human rights. They are deprived of their family property rights, access to social services- health and education. Still most of them have not been allowed decision-making powers even when it concerns their own bodies. They bear a lot of burden with working and caring for the children. Women are tortured, imprisoned and killed for raising their voice.

In the light of salary of labour cost they do not get equal pay even though they work hard. But because of their poverty, they are compelled to sell their labour at the cheapest price. Due to this discrimination, not only the poor women suffering but also their families, community and eventually the state are obstructed in progressing towards a sustainable development.

In Bangladesh, there are many laws in favour of women. But what is the real picture? Law is only for man or that woman who has power and money but not for poor women. Corruption in the law enforcing agencies is a critical obstacle to eliminate crime and violence against women. It is indicated that the mechanisms to enforce and administer the relevant laws are inadequate and ineffective. Unusual delay in court procedures and trial proceedings allow accused persons out on bail to intimidate victims and tamper with evidence. As a result ultimately this law goes against women.

Despite these discriminations, we celebrate Women Day regularly every year.  A lot of programs, discussion are arranged in this day and a lot of money is spent. It can be said that for this day we can take a lot of decisions for the development of women. But we can take many programs for the development of women and for this there is no need to celebrate women’s day. If we have to celebrate this day, let the men arrange this. Otherwise it is not possible for women even if they shout out their slogan for their rights. There is no benefit of women shouting alone. Men are depriving women of their rights which they deserve. When men will be aware of the equality of women, when men will stop depriving women of their rights, that day women will get due recognition and rights.

The day, when men stop torturing women, the day, when they stop sexual harassment, stop rape, stop killing discontinuation of repulsive hate crimes against women, will vbe the day we recognise women for what they are.

There is no return if women are fighting alone for their rights. Nothing happens until the heads of the bowl move. They are always men. So men should scream. Men shout at the ears of men and masters quickly. The men wanted to stop the practice of Sati, stopped. Men wanted to stop child marriage and now-a day’s child marriage in most areas has been closed. Men wanted to start women's education, started it. If these women wanted to do these things, nothing could have been possible even after hundreds of years passed. Women took the movement for the right to vote and took hundreds of years to get it.

The position of women in our society is low and the people are not accustomed to hearing the voices of individuals in low position in this society. In these circumstances, men will have to overcome their anti-discrimination mentality! Men must be purified! Otherwise, how will women get their honour?

Due to the discrimination of men and women, women alone cannot fight to get their rights.  All people are responsible for the disparity of the discrimination. As long as there is discrimination between men and women, there is no reason to call mankind a civilised nation.

The writer is Ph.D Researcher,Gender and Development Studies

AIT, Thailand



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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