The nation observed Begum Rokeya Day on Sunday (December 9) on the birth and death anniversary of writer, educationist and social activist Begum Rokeya. On this occasion we remember with deep reverence this great advocate of women’s rights and pioneer of women’s education in British India. We also take this as an opportunity to reflect on the present state of womenfolk in our country. In one of her novels entitled “Sultana’s Dream” Begum Rokeya, through the dream of the protagonist, adroitly depicted a faraway society named Ladyland, which was ruled by women and was above all ills. Looking at the fact that all the top positions of the country, including that of the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House, Deputy Leader, the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, are now held by women, one might say that Sultana’s dream has almost become a reality in today’s Bangladesh despite the country is not Ladyland.
It goes without saying there has been a significant improvement in terms of women’s empowerment in the country over the years. Our women have proved their worth in every sphere of society. That is how there are now enough women civil and judicial officers at different tiers along with blue collar widespread jobs. That Bangladesh now stands at the top among the South Asian nations in terms of achieving gender parity is a tremendous achievement for the country, which every national can take pride in. And our government rightly deserves the credit for this as it always attached top priority on women’s empowerment.
In spite of all these positive changes, the disturbing fact that pinches the morale of every conscious citizen is that the society is yet to completely shed its parochial outlook on women and their participation in out-of-home economic activities. To our utter dismay we observe how our women become victim of abuse and discrimination of various sorts both in and outside their home. The disturbingly high degree of atrocities being committed against women in our country sometimes make us forget whatever successes we have achieved so far and make us feel if we are really a civilized society.
Therefore, it is time all of us take a fresh pledge to build a society where our women will enjoy complete freedom. Only then the anticipated economic, social and cultural development of the country will take place. And thus the dream of Begum Rokeya will also come true.