The People's Republic of Bangladesh – is a country in South Asia, formed on the place of the former Pakistani province – East Pakistan. Its political leaders on March 26, 1971 announced the creation of an independent state called Bangladesh, which means “Country of Bengal”.
Bangladesh is located in the Northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent, bordering the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean. It lies on the border of India to its west, north and east, and is neighbor to Myanmar to its south-east.
On a surface area of Bangladesh, which comprises of 148,998 sq. km., more than 163 million people live making the country one of the most densely populated in the world (CIA, 2014). More than 98% of the population are the Bengalis, other nations are Chakma, Santhals, Achiks and others. More than 89% of the population are Sunni Muslims, about 9.6% – Hindus, Buddhists - 0.5%, Christians - 0.3%. The official language is Bengali, however, in the service sector and in state institutions English is widely used (CIA, 2014).
Bangladesh – is a poor densely populated country which is characterized with high rates of population growth. In the mid-1990s, two-thirds of the working population was employed in agriculture and about 30 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) was created in the agriculture sector. Despite huge agricultural sector in the structure of GDP, the country suffers from chronic food shortages.
Among the important resources, which are the basis of the national economy, there are tea plantations in Sylhet, deposits of natural gas, oil, coal, peat, limestone and hydropower of river Karnaphuli.
Natural gas is extracted in large-scale. Its resources are estimated at more than 183.7 billion cubic meters which, at the current rate of use would last for at least 45 years (CIA, 2014). In 1998, Bangladesh approved a large-scale program for attracting foreign capital for the development of gas fields, on which great hopes are put because that will enable export of natural gas to India and other countries in the region.
Government of Bangladesh strives to strictly follow generally accepted principles of maintenance of human rights and freedoms on a decent level, principles that arise from numerous acts of diplomacy adopted by the Country. Those principles are concluded into The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Convention on the Rights of the Child and others. Of all the acts above mentioned Bangladesh is a signatory (“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, 2011). Consequently, every person in Bangladesh shall enjoy to the full extent the whole plenitude of civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural ones regardless of race, origin, place of living, religion, sex, age. These include the right to life, to adequate standards of living, which allow living in dignity. Also within the scope of international acts there are such matters as workers' rights, including the right to fair wages, safe and healthy working conditions, the right to join trade unions and to create them, as well as the right to strike. These rights are recognized and protected by the international human rights treaties and organizations established with consensus of world nations.
Lately, Bangladeshi Government does the best it could to safeguard rights of women and children living on the territory of Bangladesh as well to citizens of the state staying abroad. Special efforts are made toward securing rights and freedoms of less defended groups of the population – women and children. The world community is deeply concerned with the “outdated legislation, inadequate policies and poor services” that “continue to jeopardize the rights of children” (“Child Rights”), as well as women. The situation with maintaining and promoting women rights and rights of children is deteriorated with radicals, mostly Islamists, who consider unequal position of women to be normal, which derives, in their opinion, from Islamic Law. To that end, to make everything possible to formalize rights of the above mentioned groups of society on a legal level, a range of national laws was adopted. Special noticing the following are worth (“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, 2011):
(a) Bangladesh Labour Act (2006);
(b) The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution allowing an increase in women’s reserved seats from 30 to 45;
(c) The Representation of People’s (Amendment) Ordinance (2008);
(d) The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (2009), entitling a Bangladeshi woman to transmit citizenship to her children;
(e) The Right to Information Act (2009);
(f) The National Human Rights Act (2009); and
(g) The Domestic Violence Act (2010).
Bangladesh has taken range of political measures, initiated several programs and agendas for promoting gender equality and elimination of discrimination towards women. For example, programme “Vision 2021” has got the main purpose of ensuring mainstreaming of gender problems. And national Policy for the Advancement of Women is directed on liquidation of gender inequalities. Moreover, National Council for Women and Child Development was established in 2009 which main sphere of responsibilities is taking care of children and women who are in hardship and whose rights are violated (“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, 2011).
Acting Constitution of Bangladesh (adopted in 1972) guarantees equal rights for men and women in the sphere of public life leaving women less defended in the private sphere, which shall be adjusted at the earliest possible moment. Bangladeshi officials are making everything possible to reduce ghastly phenomenon of violence against women and children (especially girls), by adopting national legal acts such as the Domestic Violence Act, Prevention of Cruelty to Women and Children Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act and others. However, the success of fighting these types of injustice is aggravated with usual examples of punishment of women for “anti-social and immoral behaviour” with fatwas – decisions of interpreters or expounders of Islamic law, which are, nevertheless, forbidden within the country (“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, 2011). Process of fighting violations of women`s and children`s rights in Bangladesh is complicated due to the absence of specific legal acts on a national level, despite existence of similar ones on the international level. For example, Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution was ratified on the level of SAARC (of which Bangladesh is the member), however, there is no any alike act in the national legal system (“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, 2011).
Despite increase of number of seats for women in the Parliament from 30 to 45 and introducing 6 new female ministers, the concern of equal gender representation in the bodies of state power remains (“Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”, 2011). The women are still underrepresented in the diplomatic, civil, administration services, in decision making processes, in other spheres of state government. Great victory in fighting violations of human rights was achieved with attaining gender parity in the system of education, when the primary and secondary education became free for girls just as well as for boys. However, education process of children is usually stumbled because of simple absence of needed infrastructure for basic needs of students of schools, especially in rural areas. Moreover, education opportunities are not available for many children due to their necessity to work hard to make provision for the families they live with. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, in 2003 there were about 3.2 million child laborer (“Child labour in Bangladesh”, 2010). Today the number of such children does not differ much.
With the adoption of Bangladesh Labor Act promoting equal possibilities for employment in 2006 it became possible for women receive the same wages for the same work conducted by men. Non-application of this Act to the regular jobs at which most women are employed still makes action of this Act of non-universal nature. Still, the government is aware of this and is fully intended to solve this problem at the earliest possible moment. Because of insufficient governmental communications with population of the Country, because of major violations of rights of women and children on all levels starting from family and ending with an official, Bangladeshi women and children are “either sometimes unaware of their rights or are prevented from asserting them” (Islam, 2013).
The Government of Bangladesh,
RECOGNIZING that allocating to a full extent fundamental human rights and freedoms to every person without any regard to his sex, origin, race, color or age is the basic provision of numerous acts of the United Nations throughout its history and a primary principle of existence of this Organization,
REMINDING that every state member of the United Nations shall follow obligations on protecting rights of its citizens (especially of children and women), which it recognized with signing numerous acts on protection of human dignity, rights and freedoms,
REAFFIRMING the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to be the main acts of the Organization in defining legal status of children and women all over the world,
GUIDED by the necessity of achievement of decent living conditions, equality between men and women, adherence to principle considering human life to be primary value and necessity of fundamental human rights for every person in any society,
EMPHASIZING THE FACT that nations around the world suffer constantly aggravating position of women and children, especially in developed nation,
SEEKING solutions to the problems of gender inequality, child labour, high level of illiteracy, abuses of children and women both within and outside their families, bad living and working conditions,
- AFFIRMS its further adherence to endeavors taken to eliminate that social injustice above mentioned,
- ASKS the rest of the nations to join the mission of bringing decent living conditions to children and women all over the world,
- FURTER INVITES other member states of the United Nations to participate in granting broader working opportunities to all women without regard to their citizenship,
- NOTES that achieving Millennium Development Goals is possible only by uniting efforts of peoples of all nations,
- EMPHASIZES that further cooperation of all nations within the framework of such UN agencies as The Committee on the Rights of the Child and The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is a must,
- DECIDES to continue fighting injustice and violence towards women and children with renewed efforts within its borders,
- REAFFIRMS its strife to guarantee decent human rights and freedoms to every women and child on its territory be means of the following:
- implementation of effective national legislation, policies and action plans and allocation of resources for the implementation and protection of children's and women`s rights to ensure their well-being;
- establishment of new and strengthening of the existing national bodies, as, in particular, independent ombudsmen for children and women, or other institutions for the promotion and protection of children's and women`s rights;
- development and implementation of programs to promote meaningful participation of children and women in decision-making processes, including on the level of families and schools, as well as on local and national governmental levels;
- development of policies and programs that will encourage all members of Bangladeshi society to be responsible for the well-being of children and women.
- PROMOTES observance of rights of women and children on its territory by introducing decisive legal acts obliging every Bangladeshi person and organization to respect and not violate human rights of the above mentioned groups of people,
- CHOOSES to introduce heavy fines and strict punishment for those violating human rights of women and children,
- SUPPORTS all actions of all nations attempting to facilitate conditions of children and women both on their territories and on territories of their neighboring states,
- EXPRESSES ITS HOPE that status of children and women in other member states of the Organization will be regarded as one of the most critical within directions of domestic policy.
- OFFICIALLY CONTINUES to participate in all programs and actions of the United Nations targeted at overcoming problems of any kind related to state of children and women.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2014). The World Factbook: Bangladesh. N.d., Retrieved February 25, 2014, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html
UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) “Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Bangladesh” (March 22, 2011). Retrieved February 26, 2014, from http://www.refworld.org/docid/4efc90162.html
Islam, Serajul. Women’s rights and discrimination in Bangladesh (09 July, 2013). Retrieved February 26, 2014, from http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2013/jul/09/women%E2%80%99s-rights-and-discrimination-bangladesh
UNICEF. “Child Labour”. (N.d.) Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://www.unicef.org/bangladesh/children_4863.htm
UNICEF. “Child labour in Bangladesh”. (2010). Retrieved February 26, 2014, from http://www.unicef.org/bangladesh/Child_labour.pdf
UNICEF. “Child Rights”. (N.d.) Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://www.unicef.org/bangladesh/children_4878.htm