The United Nation’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka began her first official visit to Bangladesh on January 29, 2018
The United Nation’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka began her first official visit to Bangladesh on January 29, 2018.
During her visit to the Commonwealth country she will meet with key government and civil society officials, as well as international development partners in Dhaka and in Cox’s Bazar who are responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis.
Mlambo-Ngcuka is to meet with Bangladesh Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina to discuss collaboration opportunities on addressing violence against women and girls.
A number of bilateral meetings with government officials have also been planned, including with the State Minister for Women and Children Affairs, Meher Afroze Chumki, the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, Mohammed Abul Kalam, and the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Kazi Reazul Hoque.
Talks will also take place with women leaders from the private sector and civil society and with students.
The Executive Director will then travel to Balukhali Camp in Cox’s Bazar to meet with Rohingya refugee women and girls at the UN Women Multi-Purpose Women’s Centre, which provides a space for the most vulnerable, marginalised and neglected female refugees such as adolescent girls and female-headed households.
The visit will coincide with the National Women Peace and Security Symposium, jointly coordinated by the Bangladesh government and UN Women, which aims to develop a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
This plan will be a blueprint for efforts to encourage women’s participation in the prevention of violent extremism and conflict, as well as the promotion of resilience during crises though the protection and advancement of women’s rights.
Civil society partners have been invited to share their expertise and vision for a more equal and peaceful society at the Symposium, which runs from January 29-30, 2018.
Important developments have been made for women in Bangladesh in recent years, with the country making impressive gains on gender parity in primary education and seeing a dramatic rise in the participation rate of the female labour force from 24% in 2002 to 36% in 2016, among other development indicators.
However, gender inequality remains across many sectors, with the country ranking 199th out of 159 countries in the 2016 global Gender Inequality Index.
Women’s average income remains at 57% of men’s and more than 70% of unpaid family workers are women.
Furthermore, over 50% of girls in Bangladesh are married before their 18th birthday and half of the female population have reported experiencing physical violence from their partner.
Rohingya refugees have been hosted in Bangladesh for almost three decades, but the country has seen a surge of those fleeing persecution in Myanmar since August 2017.
More than 688,800 refugees have arrived as of mid-January 2018, more than half of whom are women and girls, with 16% estimated to be single mothers and 21% pregnant or breastfeeding.
The level and severity of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls has given a particularly gendered nature to the Rohingya refugee crisis, as has the restrictive socio-cultural norms of the Rohingya population for women and girls.
UN Women has therefore intervened in the humanitarian response to lead the Gender in Humanitarian Action Working Group, as part of the wider refugee crisis response.