Woman leadership in Bangladesh politics still negligible

Most parties set to miss target of 33pc reps by next year

Ahammad Foyez | Published: 00:00, Mar 08,2019 | Updated: 22:07, Mar 08,2019

 
 

A woman petrol pump assistant fills a tank of a truck at a pump in Narayanganj on Thursday as nation observes International Women’s Day today. — Abdullah Apu

Women still lag behind men in terms of participation in politics as almost all registered political parties are set to miss their target of ensuring 33 per cent representation of women in their committees by 2020.
Women’s participation in direct elections to parliament and local government bodies are also poor.
The Representation of the People Order 1972 stipulates that all registered political parties have to increase the proportion of female representation in their committees to 33 per cent by 2020.
According to Election Commission officials, with only one year left, 38 of the 40 political parties registered with the commission have yet to ensure even 20 per cent representation of women in their committees.
The parties submitted progress reports in early 2018 as the commission notified the on several occasions, acting commission secretary Mokhlesur Rahman told New Age on Wednesday.
He said that the parties were reminded that ensuring 33 per cent women representation by 2020 was a mandatory requisite for securing their registration.
Election commissioner M Rafiqul Islam said that a party might lose its registration for violating the provision of the 1972 order.
‘The commission would discuss the progress the parties made in its meeting,’ he added.
In the reports, 10 parties claimed that they made progress while the rest 29 stated that they were trying to implement the provision by the deadline.
National Democratic Party, which got registered with the commission in early 2019, was yet to inform the commission about women representation in its committees.
Only the Ganafront and the Progressive Democratic Party stated in their progress report that they already ensured 33 per cent women representation in their committees.
In its report, the ruling Awami League said that it had 18 per cent women representation in its central executive committee as the 81-member committee included 15 women.
Of the 16-member presidium body of Awami League, only four, including Sheikh Hasina, are women while Khaleda Zia is the only woman in the 19-member national standing committee of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
According to the progress reports submitted by the parties who claimed to have made progress, BNP had 15 per cent, Jatiya Party 20 per cent, Gantanry Party 15 per cent, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal 12 per cent, Jatiya Ganatantrik Party 12 per cent, Bangladesh Muslim League 6 per cent and Bangladesh Islami Front had 1 per cent women representations in all committees.
The parties, however, did not detail their committees.
Jatiya Party-JP, Khelafat Mojlish, Bangladesh National Awami Party-Bangladesh NAP, National Peoples’ Party, Bangladesh Nationalist Front, Krishak Sramik Janata League, Bangladesh Kalyan Party, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD, Workers Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal, Bangladesh Jatiya Party, Islamic Front Bangladesh, Liberal Democratic Party, Bangladesh Sangskritik Muktijote, Jaker Party, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish, Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Bangladesh, Islami Oikyajote, Revolutionary Workers Party, Khelafat Majlish Bangladesh, Islami Andolan Bangladesh, Bangladesh Muslim League-BML, Gono Forum and Bangladesh Tarikat Federation informed the commission that they were trying to ensure representation of women in their committees.
BNP vice-chairman Selima Rahman said that representation of women in politics was still poor as women were still neglected in the society, politics and even family.
She said that women leadership also did not develop in expected rate at grassroots which was a major obstacle to achieving the target of ensuring 33 per cent women representation in the committees of the political parties.
Ruling Awami League agriculture and cooperative secretary Faridun Nahar Laily said that central leadership of the parties should overcome from the old patriarchal mindset.
She, however, said that her party and its president Sheikh Hasina were sincere enough in the commitment to ensure women representation in the party.
She said that her party gave highest efforts to ensure 33 per cent female representation in committees by 2020.
Dhaka University women and gender studies department professor Tania Haque said that women were serious victim of patriarchal society as patriarchal mindset existed in both male and female in the society.
‘Lack of confidence and skill and limitations of time are keeping women away from the political leadership though women representation in politics has increased,’ she added.
Sushashoner Jonno Nagarik secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said that reservation of seats for women in parliament and local government bodies failed to enhance active participation of women in politics.
‘The system of reservation of seats was faulty and the role of women under the system is symbolic only,’ he said, adding that direct election to the reserved seats for women was a must to encourage women in political competitions.
In the December 30 general election, only 22 women were elected in direct elections in 300 constituencies. It showed that women representation in the parliament was 7.33 per cent.
Of the 22 lawmakers, 19 were elected from the ruling Awami League, including its president Sheikh Hasina, two from the Jatiya Party and the rest one was from as Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal.
The scenario is similar in the local government bodies.
In the latest elections to union parishads held in 2016, only 29 women were elected as chairman out of about 4,000 unions, said Election Commission officials.
In the latest elections to upazila parishads held in 2015, about 1,500 women contested for the positions of chairman and vice-chairman reserved for women in about 400 upazilas while the number of female participants was 2,900 in 2009.

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