April 15, 2021, 11:54 pm
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  • Update Time : Tuesday, March 9, 2021,
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Women in leadership in Bangladesh: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19world

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. This theme is time-worthy and it is time to celebrate successes of women leaders as different capacities in different parts of the world during this pandemic situation.

Forbes magazine has acclaimed the names of eight female leaders who are successfully combating the COVID-19 pandemic. They are Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand Prime Minister JacindaArdern, Iceland Prime Minister Katr-n Jakobsdottir, Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. They came forward and take the all necessary and praise worthy steps which made them successful.

Bangladeshi women have usually been faced so many challenges throughout their entire lives. Over the past year, our women have been engaged as frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a health care worker, caregivers, scientists, police, bankers, journalists, community mobilizers and as political and social leaders in the fight against the coronavirus whilst bracing for our country recovery. This COVID 19 has already highlighted great contributions of our women in decision making, policy and laws that work better for all, while it has intensified the extent to which women and girls carry unequal burdens throughout their lives as a result of gender inequalities.

To uphold women’s rights and fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, on International Women’s Day the World Health Organization (WHO) brings a message of hope from women trying to achieve an equal future – in health and beyond – in the world’s largest refugee camp.

A Rohingya female leader, Shakiya is helping women and girls navigate challenges and opportunities in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps to enhance health seeking behaviors, including for sexual and reproductive health services. Shakiya fled Myanmar in August 2017 sided by her father, sister, husband and children. Despite the tragic events which led her family to seek refuge in Cox’s Bazar, Shakiya – also known as ‘ShantikanaApa’ {peace-building Sister} – decided to look at the bright side of life and saw in the refugee camps a platform to educate women and girls while linking them with much needed sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence services, among others. (WHO Bangladesh/Tatiana Almeida.)

There are so many women who are still working at the frontlines encountered many challenges. One of those women is Dr. IsratImrozeShorna who is currently working as a child specialist (registrar) in IbneSina Hospital. Dr. IsratImrozeShorna shared her feelings in working during this pandemic situation:

“First time I cursed my fate that why I born as a female, I could not visit my COVID 19 affected parents due to make sure of safety of my children and in laws. I had to visit hospital regularly, I could not touch properly new born baby patient like before due to fear of COVID 19 infection and during discharging time patient’s parents requested me to remove my mask from the face so that they can see me and thank me properly. After returning from hospital I was afraid for my family and keep myself isolated from them. Even I could not sleep properly due to nightmare and fear of my parent’s health conditions. She added she had to wear PPE and N 95 mask for 8 hours during her duty without eating and urinating which were very difficult for a female”.

Another frontline fighter is Joinobkhatunpopy , she is an Executive Magistrate at government of the people’s republic of Bangladesh. JoinobKhatunPopy said that “we were at risk because in the beginning of the pandemic we had to contact with the people because we were obliged to perform our duties. I have two children and I had to be more conscious to protect them from this virus. after coming back, I had to take shower then went to children but in the meantime, they were screaming and crying to come their mom but I couldn’t take them without taking shower. This scenario was very much pathetic for me. On the other hand, some of my colleagues were reported with COVID19 virus which feels me down to some extents. I used to think I can be affected by this virus as I used to distribute relief and conduct mobile court. Along with our normal duties we were working for awareness raising and maintaining lock down.”

Mohotarema Rashid is a university teacher who is working as an assistant provost at Bangladesh Army University of Science and Technology.  she said that

“During COVID-19 pandemic I had to conduct my online class, Sometimes I conducted it from home through zoom/ google meet, sometimes I had to visit my office for official and administration purpose. I was not afraid to serve but I was worried about my parent’s safety, for this reason I stayed far from my home. Even my Eid day celebrated without my full family member. During this pandemic I have seen so many mental health issues among my students, most of them were female. This mental health issue caused so many problems in their personal and academic life. I want to emphasize on institutional mental health counseling which could be very necessary and effective steps she added.

On this year’s International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of our women in different capacities, who irrespective of their walks in life, educational background and social and economic circumstances, strive to achieve an equal future for all. The voices of Shakiya, Dr. Israt ,Joinobpopy, Mohotarema  represented all those frontline fighters, that gave message to us that women can equally fight against COVID19 and contribute towards country achievement.


Writer: Dr.Mortahina Rashid(Hima), Senior Nutrition Security Officer,Eminence Associates for Social Development.


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