Women leaders and UN in Bangladesh meet to advance gender equality
24 September 2023
Role of Women in Bangladesh: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities in Public Life
Over thirty prominent women leaders from the government, private sector, academia, media, and non-government organizations participated in a high-level round table organized by the United Nations in Bangladesh to discuss advancing gender equality.
The high-level roundtable on “the Role of Women in Bangladesh: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities in Public Life” took place on 24 September and provided a rare opportunity for women leaders from different walks of life to meet and reflect together on existing barriers to further advance gender parity, to ensure non-discrimination, and to address the challenges faced by women and girls in the country.
Bangladesh's first female Speaker of Parliament, H.E. Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, was the Chief Guest at the roundtable, which was moderated by the UN Resident Coordinator, Gwyn Lewis. Among other participants of the event were the Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh, Alexandra Berg von Linde, the UN Women Country Representative, Gitanjali Singh and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, Kristine Blokhus.
Commenting on the importance of women’s role in society, the Speaker of Parliament, H.E. Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, noted that “a smart Bangladesh needs that we address the structural barriers and harness the full potential of women in economic life to maintain the momentum for sustainable development, especially as we graduate from the least developed countries (LDC) status.”
In her opening remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator praised Bangladesh’s significant achievements in its sustainable development and highlighted that this progress had been driven in large part by the extraordinary contributions of women. “In the past fifty years, Bangladesh has made incredible achievements in its remarkable development journey. Women’s participation, representation, and leadership in all areas of public life has significantly increased, but there remains a vast untapped potential which will only be fulfilled through the investment in women and girls and - in their health, education, decent jobs and social protection, productive capacities and protection from discrimination - is taken seriously and if they, as agents of their own change, have a bigger role in public life.”
At the roundtable, women leaders shared their diverse experiences, successes, and challenges. They discussed barriers to women’s representation and leadership and identified actions to jointly tackle these issues to advance gender equality in Bangladesh.