Despite persistent efforts at all levels -- NGO, state, regional and international -- to make a paradigm shift in terms of gender equality, an overwhelming majority of women are caught up in the maelstrom of discrimination and inequity. Numerically and qualitatively, educated, talented and trained women are fast catching up with their male counterparts, even surpassing them in some cases. Not surprisingly too, they are pushing bars and scaling new heights in their chosen professions, in quite a few cases , fields which used to be men-only. The barriers are melting but not the mindset of patriarchy which is changing in form, not in substance.
Women's radical empowerment in politics, representative bodies, governments, NGOs, international multilateral organisations and corporate sectors notwithstanding, they are yet to take up decision-making strategic roles in adequate numbers they ought to have been entitled to.
Garments export and remittance earnings by women have been a great value addition to the economy; yet they are not rewarded commensurately for their contributions by way of elevated status. Indeed, multitudes of women remain disempowered, and therefore, vulnerable to a state of perpetual abuse and forced subordination.
Actually, the focus on one group of women over the other will have to be replaced by a holistic look at the entirety of the women's situation.
We think new and innovative approaches are to be taken to the gender issues to successfully grapple with the problems of violence, repression and abuse of women. A case in point is Cost of Violence Against Women (CVAW) project -- an innovative initiative of Care-Bangladesh funded by USAID which merits attention. To prevent violence against women (VAW), we have to lash out at the mindset that accepts VAW as a means to resolve conflict. How do we do that? By measuring the cost of violence on victims, perpetrators and the families. Case studies numbering 483 have helped capture cost information to slap the perpetrators with.
Media can play a hugely complimentary role by educating and sensitising people about this new topic of economic cost of violence. Communication is a powerful tool in fostering behavioural change.
The coverage on women has been both intensive and extensive -- women in workplace, gender-biased immigration law, putting an end to fatwa, men and women working together for gender egalitarian society -- have all been focused on.
The War Crimes Tribunal will have to function properly and guarantee compliance with the rule of law, pointed out a regular writer from the Bengalee Diaspora.
Wasfia Nazreen's noble realisation that 'climbing mountains is not about conquering them but about uniting with nature' and glimpses of women's battling away socially to make their presence felt in Asian Games and women's football and cricket make good reading.
The 'war babies and war heroines' of 1971 deserve apologies and majority of Pakistani women are embarked on a long journey to break out of the pall of silence.