British ministers, House of Lords members, and cross-party members of the UK Parliament highly praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for championing women’s empowerment and gender equality.
They came up with appreciation at a high-profile event titled ‘[email protected]: Empowering women and girls towards agenda 2030’, organised by Bangladesh High Commission London to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam was the Chief Guestat the event, chaired by High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem.
UK Minister for London and Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology Paul Scully MP, UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education Helen Grant MP, Shadow Minister for Asia and the Pacific Catherine West MP, Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh Rushanara Ali MP, Vice Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh Afzal Khan MP, Tahir Ali MP, Lord Dholakia, Lord Rami Ranger, Deputy Leader of Labour Lords and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Lord Collins, Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrats Ms Daisy Cooper MP, Member of Justice and Home Affairs Committee Baroness Prashar, Baroness Verma, Baroness Uddin and eminent organiser of Bangladesh freedom movement in the UK Sultan Mahmud Sharif also spoke at the event among others.
The event, co-hosted by Lord Popat, brought together women ambassadors and high commissioners from different countries, representatives of leading think tanks and civil society organizations, academics and eminent members of the British-Bangladeshi diaspora.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam in his speech said, “Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ensured women’s active participation and equal rights in all spheres of state and public life in the 1972 Constitution.
Following his footsteps, Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made girls’ education and women’s empowerment a flagship national development agenda under her Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.”
Highlighting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s outstanding contributions to women empowerment that earned her the “Agent of Change” award and “Planet 50-50 Champion” honour, he said, “Bangabandhu’s visionary daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put women empowerment at the core of national development and achieved for Bangladesh the highest credentials in gender parity, not only in South Asia but also globally.”
“Since Bangladesh’s independence, the UK has been a steadfast partner in its success and aspirations regarding women empowerment,” the state minister said and called on the UK government to implement a skill development program for Bangladeshi girls through the British Council that would improve their access to education and employment.
UK Minister for London and Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology Paul Scully MP praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for empowering women and sheltering and protecting over 1.1 million Rohingyas displaced from their country Myanmar.
High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem in her opening remarks said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated uncompromising and bold leadership for gender equality and empowerment of women nationally and globally breaking many stereotypes and glass ceilings for Bangladesh’s 90 million women and girls. It was Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who led from the front in adopting sustained policy initiatives to empower our women including the two national women advancement and development policies, first in 1997 and second in 2011.
The HC added that for the past 50 years, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom have remained excellent partners in the empowerment of women and educating girl child, which we hope would continue to remain a key pillar of every facet of our bilateral cooperation. She thanked the British ministers and MPs for their sustained support to the sexually violated and forcibly displaced Rohingya women sheltered by Bangladesh.
The High Commissioner commended British-Bangladeshi women for their outstanding achievements in various fields, including politics, judiciary, business, sports, media, and the hospitality industry.
UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education Helen Grant MP expressed the hope that the bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Bangladesh would be strengthened in the future.
Maya Sivagnanam, Deputy Director of UK FCDO India and Indian Ocean Directorate read out the statement on behalf of UK Minister for Women Maria Caulfield. In her statement, Minister Caulfield commended Bangladesh’s extraordinary journey over the past decade towards gender parity, especially at workplaces and schools and assured UK’s continuous support to Bangladesh for women empowerment and girls’ education.
Co-host of the event Lord Popat praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s extraordinary leadership to undertake ground-breaking policy and programme initiatives to empower Bangladesh women politically, economically, legally and socially both in the public as well as private spheres.
At the event, Shahriar Alam along with the UK minister Paul Skully, High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem and other distinguished guests handed over the ‘Bangabandhu-Thomas Williams QC Friendship Award 2022’ to Cherie Blair, Founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for her extraordinary contributions to promotinggirls’ education in Bangladesh.
Receiving the award, Cherie Blair said, “I’m a passionate believer in the power of women like Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is inspired by her father to ensure that women get their fair share of the wealth and opportunities in their country.