Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ten special initiatives have played a significant role ushering in a new hope of women empowerment which is contributing towards meeting the SDGs.
After assuming power in 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had attached utmost importance on priority basis to ensure basic rights of people including poverty and hunger-free society, housing, education, health and social safety.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by her sagacity and vision undertook Ten Special Initiatives to ensure overall development of society and state, adds BSS.
The PM's ten special initiatives are: Palli Sanchay Bank (Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar), Asrayan Prokalpo, Digital Bangladesh, Education Assistance, Women Empowerment, Electricity For All, Social Safety Program, Community Clinic, Mental Health, Social Safety Programme, Investment Development and Environment Protection.
General Manager of Palli Sanchay Bank (PSB) Dipankar Rai said at the beginning of the ‘Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar’ project, the village development samity was formed with a total of 60 members. Among 60 members, 40 women members are mandatory.
As a result, 60 percent of women have become self-reliant using her own resources.
He said “There are 60 lakh members in Palli Sanchay Bank. Of them, 40 lakh members are women.
” Through this project, the village housewives have created a revolution by becoming financially independent.
Besides, empowering women, the project focuses on raising awareness and sensitivity of women, creating public awareness on dowry and child marriage. Thus, the main objective of this project is to ensure women empowerment by improving her financial and societal status, he added.
To ensure women empowerment under the Ashrayan project, ownership of land and house is given in the joint names of husband and wife of landless, homeless, destitute and uprooted families.
In this case, special priority is being given to the disabled, elderly, widows and to women, abandoned by husband. In order to prevent the resettled family from getting involved in future disputes over ownership, the land ownership is handed over on the spot along with the registered documents, hand over certificates and title deeds.
Tattho Apa (Information Sister) is another familiar name across the country. This endeavour was taken by Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha of the Women and Children Affairs ministry under a project named “Tottho Apa: Empowering Women Through ICT Towards Digital Bangladesh Project” in April 2017.
The first phase of the project was successfully implemented in 13 upazilas while the five-year second phase is now being implemented in 492 Upazilas to ensure availability of information technology to grass root women.
The major objectives of the project are establishment of Information Centre in each 492 upazilas of 64 districts to sensitize one crore village women to solve their everyday problems through information technology.
Under the project, e-commerce assistance through Information Canters are being provided to women while a technology based team through e-learning is being formed in the rural areas.
Each information centre has one Information Service Officer and two Information Service Assistants, who are known as Tottho Apa at the project area for providing information services in the rural areas across the country.
Apart from this, women with IT education visit the village households in the project area and provide information related to education, health, law, business, gender and agriculture using the laptops.
The uninterrupted internet connection is being available in all information centres while services including free internet browsing, e-mail, video conferencing via Skype are being made available to the beneficiaries of this project.
Moreover, the information centre provides free services on employment information, examination results, and information of different government services.
Besides, the Tottho Apas (Information Sisters) are offering primary healthcare services at free of cost like blood pressure test, weight measurement and diabetes test.
The Information Service Officer and Information Service Assistants also visit door-to-door in the concerned upazilas to solve problems relating to education, health, laws, business, gender and agriculture by using their laptops.
The Tottho Apas (Information Sisters) also conduct regular courtyard meetings with grassroots women to inform and educate them on various issues such as health problems, child marriage, Fatwa, (religious edict) violence against women, employment, legal issues and the various aspects of digital services like e-mail, messaging, chatting and video conferencing.
In each meeting, 40-50 rural women participate while each information centre organizes two meetings in a month.
The concerned upazila nirbahi officer, agriculture officer, education officer, fisheries officer, health officer, IT experts and other relevant government officials attend these meetings.
Another remarkable initiative of the government is the introduction of ‘Education Assistance Trust’ under the Education Assistance Programme to prevent drop out of poor meritorious students.
The Trust provides scholarships to underprivileged students based on merit.
The project has been undertaken to prevent drop out of students, stop child marriage and improve the quality of education of students -- studying in Class six to Bachelors (pass) and equivalent level -- by giving stipends.
As such, female literacy rate has increased and dropout rate has decreased in the past one decade, which has widened the path of women empowerment.
In addition, to stop discrimination and ensure women’s participation at every level, ‘National Women Development Policy 2011’ has been formulated and ‘Women Rehabilitation Board’ and ‘National Women Organization’ has been formed.
To ensure sustainable economic empowerment of women and promote women entrepreneurs, Joyeeta Foundation was established in 2011.
The foundation empowers women entrepreneurs and artisans by creating a secure channel for them to showcase and sell their products.
Moreover, formulation of ‘Prevention of violence against women Act 2015’ and inclusion of mother’s name in passport has strengthened women’s position in the society.
The government's electricity for all programme has indirectly played an important role in women empowerment across the country. Besides ensuring 100 percent electricity coverage the women’s livelihood has also improved significantly.
Women’s security has improved due to electricity supply in remote areas. Women now can involve themselves in various economic and social activities and stay outside home for long.
The Union Information and Service Centres (UISCs) have created employment opportunities for the trained women. Those women, who cannot go outside, can do freelancing by availing internet facilities from home.
During the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, many women entrepreneurs expanded their business by selling goods using online platforms.
Community clinic is one of the ten special initiatives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the United Nations and other international organizations have highly praised this initiative as these clinics have been playing a significant role in reaching integrated health and family planning services at the doorsteps of the rural people.
Community clinics make revolution in healthcare for marginalized rural womenfolk.
The clinics are helping Bangladesh to attain the desired goal of reducing mother and children mortality rate as basic prenatal and postnatal health care services and skilled birth attendants are available there.
The clinics are also providing services like mother and children healthcare, reproductive healthcare, family planning, vaccination, nutrition, diabetics.
The government has formulated 123 social safety net programmes for the poor and vulnerable section of the population. Among the social safety net programmes are widow and destitute women allowance, maternity allowance for poor mothers, old age allowance.
Besides, to create self-employment opportunities for women small loan schemes have been introduced under which 1,500 distressed people, mostly women, received Taka 1.50 crore as loan.
As the government ensured easy loan facility for women, they are now going for large scale investments besides investment in small and cottage industries.