The Financial Express

Bangladesh: A strong champion of women, peace and security issues

| Updated: December 22, 2020 21:49:49

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Bangladesh: A strong champion of women, peace and security issues

Bangladesh is a strong advocate for the promotion of women, peace, and security agenda. The sexual violence that was inflicted on 200,000 of our women during our war of liberation in 1971 and the traumatic experience that our women had to endure at that time, encouraged us to create a safe, secure, and enabling environment for women to realise their inherent potentials. Immediately after independence, our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman placed women at the heart of our development agenda. His able daughter, Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ensured justice for those horrendous crimes, recognised those victims as 'war heroes' and ensured further development and social economic and political inclusion of women.

Our women have not only been victims of war, they also actively participated in our war of liberation. Since independence, our women's contribution to our nation-building efforts have been exemplary. The government has prioritised their empowerment through education and integrating them into economic activities and thereby enabling them to perform non-traditional roles beyond their households. 

Women in Bangladesh are now active agents of our socio-economic changes and development initiatives. Their role, particularly in disaster management, rescue and recovery has been noteworthy. We have also pioneered women's participation in peacekeeping. In the current context, women play essential preventive roles in addressing emerging security threats, including violent extremism. We recognise women's role in influencing community and family values and identifying early signs of radicalisation and encourage their leadership at the community, national and international levels. Our strong faith in the ability of women as the agents of peace has been complemented by laws and regulations, and affirmative actions.  

It is our national experience that inspired us to promote the adoption of the Resolution 1325 in 2000, during our membership to the Security Council. We have last year launched our first-ever National Action Plan (NAP) on Women Peace and Security (2019-22).

Globally, Bangladesh has been an active player in the implementation of WPS agenda. In Peacebuilding Commission, we played a critical role in the adoption and implementation of the PBC's Gender strategy.  Although representation of women in peacemaking and peacekeeping has remained very low-6 per cent in mediation, 13 per cent in negotiations, we have deployed 17 per cent female military staff officers/UN military observers following the Secretary-General's call for enhanced participation of female peacekeepers.

Despite progress in many fronts, there are some challenges. Sustainable financing remains an issue. Although the Secretary-General made a commitment to allocating at least 15 per cent of UN-managed funds to support peace-building focusing women, the funding scenario remains disappointing.

This trend must be reversed and we all should work to ensure financial suitability of WPS agenda.

For the advancement of the WPS issues, I would like to highlight the following  points:

First, in the post-conflict and humanitarian settings, efforts must be made for ensuring a gender-responsive approach recognising women's increased role in recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Second, women's meaningful participation through education, training, and capacity-building should be a priority. UN agencies and international partners need to support governments in their women's development and empowerment efforts.

Third, ensuring justice and accountability for conflict-related sexual violence is an important precondition for reconciliation in a conflict-affected country. In cases, where the state concerned is unwilling or unable to ensure justice, the international community should take responsibility.

Fourth, women's participation in peacekeeping needs to be increased. In addition, gender perspective should be made an integral part of mission's drawdown and transition.

Fifth, sufficient budgetary provisions need to be allocated in peacekeeping missions to address gender dimension properly.

Finally, increased and sustained financial provisions are also critical for effective implementation of WPS agenda. To this end, all should be forthcoming in making necessary investment to advance this issue.

This year we are observing the 20th anniversary of WPS agenda. We are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the UN and 25th anniversary of Beijing Platform of Action and also conducting the review of the UN's peace-building architecture. We must draw on these occasions and recommit to working together to ensure full, equal and meaningful participation of women in building and sustaining peace.


Dr A. K. Abdul Momen is the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. This write-up has been adapted from his statement delivered at the High-Level International Conference on Women, Peace and Security (Strengthening Women's Role in Building and Sustaining Peace: from Commitments to Results) held in Hanoi, Vietnam on December 7, 2020. 

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