Human Rights Monitor
The state of the world's children 2007
Empowering women to help children
Eliminating gender discrimination and empowering women will have a profound and positive impact on the survival and well being of children, according to a new UNICEF report issues on the organisation's 60th anniversary. The Bangladesh national launch of the report was held at a city hotel on December 18. The report titled "Women and children: Double dividend of gender equality" was presented by Ms. Zafrin Chowdhury, senior communication officer of Unicef Bangladesh. According to the report, women's influence in key decisions improves the lives of women and has a positive effect on child well-being and development.
Two girl named Shumi Akhter and Amena Begum from the UNICEF-supported Abhijan or "Adoloscent empowerment project" recounted their life experience of having access to basic education, life skills and livelihood skills. The adoloscent girls from Gazipur and Tangail, like many others throughout the country, received assistance in taking up independent vocations. The girls said that this has not only helped us to have an income and independence, but also to be held with respect in families as well as society. They also added that which in turn helped them to have a say in when they want to get married. The girls said they nurture the dream for a life that was unthinkable for their mothers and grandmothers. Although in spite of their gains, both girls seek a more accepting social attitude towards their independence and their work. "It is still difficult to enjoy freedom as young women", said both.
On the occasion a child journalist of Dhaka zone named Aslamul huq Tanim and Asma Nargis Annie, sub-editor of the Shishu Prokash, Children's express a publication of child journalists were presented. The project titled "Strengthening children's participation in media " another UNICEF supported project working in collaboration with Mass line media center which is being implemented in total 64 districts of the country and from each districts total 10 child journalists prepared report on different kinds of child rights violations and irregularities of Govt. bodies or authorities on regular basis.
The "State of the world's children 2007" presents seven key interventions and a roadmap to enhance gender equality. They are Education, Financing, Legislation, Legislative quotas, Women empowering women, Engaging men and boys, Improved research and data etc.
Commenting on the report, Prof Ferdous Azim of Brac University lauded the holistic approach of the report and urged the people to put pressure on the government to implement international conventions to establish women's rights and ensure gender equality. She also added "The report recommends greater influence for women in all aspects of women's participation such as having greater voices in politics, which is key factor in achieving women's empowerment." Doly Akhter, a adolescent hygiene promoter and peer leader from the UNICEF-supported water and sanitation project, shared her experience at the launching ceremony.
Appreciating the present ratio of gender parity in primary education, Unicef Representative Louis George Arsenault said discrimination against women in the household and in politics has a direct and positive effect on children. In his concluding observations he thanked partners for lending their strength and support to the work of UNICEF did together with them. "Not only are women's empowerment and the well being of children closely connected, they are mutually reinforcing", he opined in his speech.
The program ended up with a question and answer session with the media where Doly Akhter, adolescent community hygiene worker from UNICEF supported water and environmental sanitation project answered the queries. Ms. Doly has just returned from addressing the UN Geneval Assembly and speaking at the global launch of the report in New York.
The benefits of gender equality go beyond their direct impact on children. The report shows how promoting gender equality and empowering women- Millennium development goal number-3, will propel all of the other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children's lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Source: UNICEF, Bangladesh.