Vol. 5 Num 584 Thu. January 19, 2006  

Two Get Begum Rokeya Padak-2005
Launch social movement to end dowry system: PM

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia yesterday pledged to carry forward a social movement for spreading education, halting repression and empowering women by putting an end to hated dowry system.

"I always try to push forward this movement, because half of our population is women. It's an absurd imagination to achieve national development and progress keeping them lagging behind," she said at a function marking the award giving ceremony of Begum Rokeya Padak-2005 at the Osmani Memorial Hall auditorium in the city.

The function was also addressed by Minister for Women and Children Affairs Begum Khurshid Jahan Haque. The recepients of the Padak are Rokeya Mannan (education) and Srimati Shaha (social service).

Khaleda said she will have deployed all her strength to build up a social movement for women emancipation and environment protection if she was not "compelled to join politics and new political movement" for establishment of democracy and people's rights.

In her free and candid speech charged with emotion, Khaleda said she had to enter politics to uphold the ideals of Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman, proclaimer of independence and architect of modern Bangladesh.

"I had to join a difficult struggle for democracy and people's rights," she said, adding that the struggle has not yet completed.

Khaleda said she had been fighting a ceaseless movement to bring about a change in the destiny of the common people who are afflicted with ignorance, deprivation, indiscrimination and exploitation over the centuries.

"I am to fight to ensure two square meals a day, clothes in the cold, a piece of shelter, medical treatment, education and employment for these hapless people."

Alongside the efforts to alleviate poverty, she said she had to struggle for development, peace and stability in the country. "I am to launch a new movement to implement the aspiration of the people for which they had fought the war of independence by taking risk of their lives," she said.

Recalling Begum Rokeya's great struggle for and contribution to emancipation of women in this region, Khaleda said today women got the right to education, free movement, seek justice against repression and right to franchise.

"Today we are speaking of women empowerment. Women are now becoming judges and barristers, leading army, flying planes and moving forward in almost all professions keeping abreast with men by dint of their own competence and efficiency."

Moreover, Khaleda said the responsibilities of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are being carried out by women. "All these were the dreams of Begum Rokeya. She not only dreamt of this, but struggled uncompromisingly throughout her life to materialise her dreams. We're now enjoying the fruits of her struggle."

She said Begum Rokeya was a teacher, organiser, litterateur and social reformer. All her talents and virtues were employed to build a social movement for emancipation of the women.

The society today lacks such personalities of having so many qualities, Khaleda said and called for concerted efforts to finish the unfinished tasks of Begum Rokeya and to achieve the national goal of development and progress.

Rokeya Mannan receives Begum Rokeya Padak-2005 from Prime Minister Khaleda Zia at the Osmani Memorial Hall auditorium in the city yesterday. PHOTO: PID