Expressing her firm belief that there will be no room for violent extremism in those societies that create space for women's participation and empowerment, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon global leaders to continue to enlarge that space for building a sustainable better future.
The Prime Minister said this while attending a side-event on Women's Leadership and Gender Perspective on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism hosted by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Conference Room of the UN Headquarters on Tuesday.
Noting that terrorism and violent extremism are an affront to civilised societies, Hasina said they undermine peace and security, sustainable development and respect for human dignity. "We must close our ranks to address these challenges. Women must be part of any solutions we seek."
The Prime Minister said she is happy seeing the Secretary General's new plan of action recognising women's role and leadership in preventing violent extremism. "I believe education for all, especially for girls, is a powerful tool to address radical behaviour and violent extremism. I encourage our mothers to act as role models and mentor their children."
Listing various steps taken by her government for women's empowerment, Hasina said, "Our primary schools have more than 60 per cent female teaching staff. They're spreading the values of tolerance, inclusion and diversity among young minds. Our children must be protected against extremist narratives."
She mentioned that the women in the police are working with communities to build trust and confidence as well as the female members in local governments are reaching out to families to raise awareness about radicalisation.
"Our women in Parliament represent women's voices in public policies for preventing and countering violent extremism," she said adding, "We see a new trend among violent extremists to recruit women. We're trying to understand what prompts these women to join such a wrong cause. Our government maintains 'zero tolerance' against all forms of terrorism and violent extremism."
The Prime Minister said the National Women Development Policy ensures equal opportunities and entitlement for women while progress in empowering women has sidelined the religious extremist agenda. "For us, a terrorist is a terrorist, and does not have any religion, belief or creed."
At the grassroots, Hasina said, her government has been providing women with skills and training to have their voices heard in resolving conflicts and building peace.
She mentioned that the present government has taken projects with the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), where women actively take part in decision-making and implementation.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali was present at the podium, while PM's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Engineer Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam BSc, Energy Adviser Dr Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Foreign Ministry Dr Dipu Moni were present at the audience desk.
Earlier, Sheikh Hasina attended a luncheon reception hosted by the United Nations Secretary General at the UN Headquarters, according to a news agency, according to a news agency.