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Mahila Parishad Calls to Increase the Seats of Women in Parliament

Dhaka: The Bangladesh Women’s Council has called for an increase in the number of seats for women parliamentarians to one-third in the upcoming Twelfth National Parliament elections, along with maintaining this provision for two to three terms. This call was made during a press conference on Tuesday (November 14) at the National Press Club organized by the Bangladesh Women’s Council on the topic of ‘Current Situation, Upcoming National Parliament Elections, and Women’s Political Empowerment.’

Dr. Fauzia Moslem, President of the Bangladesh Women’s Council, was present as the moderator at the press conference. Rabeya Khatun Shanty, Convener of the organization’s Advocacy Committee, presented a written statement.

In the written statement, it is mentioned that the prevailing political situation, marked by the mutual opposition of political parties during the proceedings of the Twelfth National Parliament elections by the Election Commission, is creating a complex and uncertain environment, which is challenging the integrity gained from past experiences.

To maintain a balanced democratic process, an active participation of women in the political method of election is necessary. Ensuring women’s involvement in the governance of the state is crucial. Therefore, the Women’s Council advocates for a system where the number of seats reserved for women in the National Parliament is increased to one-third, and this provision is maintained for two to three terms.

The statement emphasizes the need for women to participate actively in the political power structure. To achieve this goal, the Women’s Council proposes specific recommendations, including monitoring the inclusion of women in all committees of political parties, ensuring women’s economic empowerment, resistance against violence against women, resistance against communalism and anti-women sentiments, and safeguarding human rights of indigenous, marginalized, and minority groups in the local communities.

In the concluding remarks, responding to journalists’ questions, Dr. Fauzia Moslem, the President of the Bangladesh Women’s Council, stated that today’s press conference has emphasized the importance of addressing violence against women and various other issues affecting women due to socio-economic conditions. Although the Constitution talks about equality and justice between men and women, the issue of women’s empowerment in politics has not received the attention it deserves.

She mentioned that despite the demand from the Women’s Council before the 2018 elections to increase the reserved seats for women in direct elections and to specify certain areas for women candidates in the election, the issue did not gain significant importance in women’s policies.

Dr. Fauzia Moslem stated that while the prevailing political situation suggests that direct participation of women in elections for reserved seats is not straightforward, the bias and absence of control over women’s rights and resources within society are causing women to lag in the power struggle compared to their male counterparts. She believes that it is essential to maintain the provision of reserving one-third of the seats for women in the National Parliament elections for two to three terms to address this situation.

She concluded by saying that the Women’s Council anticipates that the struggle for women’s political empowerment will continue unabated during the election, before the election, and after the election.

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