Fundamentalism can’t deter girls’ education in Bangladesh: PM

New Age Online
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. – New Age file photo

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. – New Age file photo

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has said fundamentalism or fanaticism cannot deter girls’ education in Bangladesh as people of these days are much more aware, reports United News of Bangladesh.
‘Fundamentalist forces once opposed the education of girls. But, with the passage of time, we’ve overcome the challenge. We believe education is the key challenge for the nation. If we can provide education to women and enable them with economic emancipation, they’ll be able to face many challenge,’ she said.
The prime minister observed this in a lecture titled ‘Girls Lead the Way’ at the World Leaders Forum at the Columbia University at New York on Friday evening. She was a guest speaker at the Ivy League School’s World Leaders Forum.
Set up in 2003, the World Leaders Forum is a year-round event series aimed at advancing lively, open dialogues on contemporary big economic, political, and social issues.
President of the University Lee C. Bollinger welcomed Bangladesh’s PM and delivered the introductory speech.
‘I wish to see our girls breaking all the barriers and taking the lead in our nation-building activities,’ the PM said.
She said though the world has done well in sending our children to schools, with more girls than boys going to schools in places like Bangladesh, the progress is still uneven.
Around 60 million children still remain outside schools and 75 percent of them are girls, she said, adding, ‘We must have these children at the heart of our development agenda as we cannot afford to leave them behind.’
Sheikh Hasina said, ‘Our women have shown that given the opportunity they can defy all odds and excel in what they aspire to do. Our job in the government is to create the right opportunities for them to thrive and prosper in equality and dignity.’
Breaking the protocols, some enthusiastic students quickly moved onto the dais and surrounded the PM after the question-answer session for taking photographs, group pictures and selfies.
Sheikh Hasina urged the students to build their career, contribute to the national development, uphold Bangladesh’s image and return home for the best utilisation of their education and experience for the cause of development of their motherland.
Responding to questions of the students, the PM said her government is making constant efforts to ensure a safe future for every citizen, especially girls, by providing them with education and financial freedom.
Asked about the proposal to lower marriageable age, Sheikh Hasina assured that Bangladesh’s decision on marriage age would not be any different from those prevalent in developed countries. ‘We’ve reviewed legal age (of marriage) in other countries. We’ll follow what is practiced in developed countries.’
The PM stressed that the best antidote to underage marriage is not legal coverage, but expanding educational and employment opportunities for girls. ‘My government is committed to doing that,’ she reiterated.

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