Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Your cover story “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” (March 5) was a joy to read, and a fitting tribute to Bangladeshi professionals on the occasion of the 100th International Women's Day. We have indeed come a long way since the days of Begum Rokeya.
The first International Women's Day was officially celebrated in 1910. The date was selected because on this day in 1848 a Prussian king had promised to make some unfulfilled reforms for women. The early 1900's were a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. This was at a time when women were entering the job market in greater numbers than ever before.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great progress has been made. We do have female prime ministers and pilots, engineers and entrepreneurs; women can work and have a family, women have real choices. So the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives, and your cover story did a great job of capturing that spirit.
Dr. Mansura Akhtar Shammi
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University
Book Fairs in Every District
From childhood we have been reading that books are the best companions in life. They are also one's best friend. But it is a matter of regret that at district level we don't get adequate opportunity to buy books, read books and to know about different kinds of books. Ekushey Boimela is held every year in Dhaka with much fanfare. This fair is regarded as the main book fair of our country and book lovers buy many books from different stalls of the fair. But it is not possible for everyone to go to Dhaka to buy books. If this type of book fair can be arranged in every district, then definitely number of readers will increase. People will get ample scope to find their desired books. Many books will be sold. So I hope the authorities will take steps to hold small Boimela in every district or at least the divisional headquarters.
In the Name of Belief
A Twist of Faith (February 26) stirred me very much. It was obvious that the cover picture had been arranged, but I was deeply concerned after reading the article. The real culprit is the attitude of some people in society -- full of audacity, lacking in common sense, and devoid of both knowledge and accountability. For some strange reason they feel themselves a supreme authority to exert any decision regarding religious matters. They even do not care about the Quran. Allah says in Quran “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient).” According to this verse, 80 lashes are for those who blame chaste women as adulteress without producing four eye-witnesses to support. So Islam actually punishes these audacious fatwabaaz.
These so called village elders have no guts to save the young girls from eve-teasing, gang rape, throwing acid, violence against women etc. But they are very quick to pass judgment on helpless women!
The feature “A twist of faith” is a timely approach. Fatwas are allowed to cope with the time and situation in the light of religious ruling. It is not a weapon to use. The writer of the feature deserves my thanks. Let the pen be a speedy sword to cut the weeds of misinformation and spread the seeds of truth and knowledge.
Dr. Lulu Akhtar Banu Sugandhi
Our industrial sector, which is facing a critical period, needs to be diversified. Export should not be dependent on a few products and services. We have ample opportunity to develop our agro-based industry as we have an agrarian economic structure. It will help absorb our large unskilled and semi-skilled workers. We have achieved great development in sectors such as Pharmaceuticals, RMG, shrimp, leather etc. We have a very large workforce which is the most important ingredient for our economic development. The world is turning to a more knowledge based, technology oriented economic structure. All the outsourcing and manufacturing activities are shifting to the developing countries like India and China. As we are the neighbours of India and China and we have the same cultural framework and many of the same advantages. Why should we not be able to grab those opportunities? So, the government should provide proper guidelines, required infrastructure, power and energy; proper planning and management programmes should also be undertaken and implemented so that more employment opportunities are created. Only this will ensure productivity and economic development.
Md. Anisuzzaman Sarker
University of Chittagong
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