Published in The Daily Star on Aug. 05 :: Human Rights Ananlysis by Mirza Farzana Iqbal Chowdhury ::
The discussion on women, women education and women empowerment in Bangladesh are not new, rather these are much voiced issues. Still the concern remains where we are heading in regard to these socio-legal issues. Starting with the issue of education, we can simply put that education is the first and foremost factor of any change in the family, society or the country. As women constitute more or less 50% of the total populace of Bangladesh, women education is much crucial to bring positive and real changes in the country. Though governments of Bangladesh took many initiatives to bring women education into play by the ways of stipends and various projects and Bangladesh has good parchment-record of escalating women education rate, still we are not well-developed in our faculty regarding education and empowerment of women. We can recall the words of Napoleon, ‘Give me an educated mother; I will give you an educated nation’. Without proper women education, the dream of Bangladesh as a proper and prosperous country will never be materialised.
The question may come forward; women education rate is good then what is the next step? The matter of concern is that still we impose our ideas, dreams, notions on women that what they should learn and to what extent. Still women education is popped-up as a good marriage point. How good your degrees are, how well-off husband you will get. Ridiculous indeed!
If we dare to observe meticulously, we can see that a sustainable women education pays off fully in regard to the social devoir and irrespective of marital status-single or married. Even if she is single, she can contribute a lot to the furtherance of the society and country. She can enlighten her surroundings; she can serve the society by bringing positive change. When an educated woman gets married, she may face a lot of challenge in the new circumstances where her education may become a vital point of own survival and moving on. If she becomes a mother, she can raise her children more properly than not educated or poorly educated women. In this modern age, where giving birth of a female child is still a challenge in many male-preferred families, the education of the mother can give her inner strength to face the undesired family odds to save the life and dignity of her female child. In upbringing children, a properly educated mother does not discriminate and does not allow others to discriminate among her male and female children as she knows all are equal and need to be properly guided as these children will be grown-up to be adult and they will reflect to the society what they learn from their family.
Besides, the concept of women empowerment also necessarily calls for women education. Without being educated and empowered, the women will remain as the neglected creature in the society and without education and financial capability, women empowerment becomes a mocking theory. At every point of survival, self-motivation is exigency which comes from education and self-realisation that what you are, what you have and what you can do. Without education, a woman cannot be able to think properly, wisely and sustainably. When the traditional minds or bunch of fotwabaz speak against women education or women rights, they actually try to cut the root and water the up of the tree! How hard they try to bring the country on the wheels of development, keeping women out from mainstream or blocking their development will render the development.
Generally women are portrayed as mother, sister, wife, daughter and in so many diversified roles. Very often her individual existence fades away and is not counted. Her role in the family and in the society is always taken for granted. Whether she will be educated or not and if educated, to what extent she may pursue her study relies on the decisions of the male members of the family. In most of the cases, women education is perceived as a menace in the patriarchal society that educating women may cost much. Like she will be less comforting, less patient and less caring personality in the family and society, which is highly wrong. Why can’t the thinkers think in a different way? If the odd situations are not created where an educated woman may act as less comforting and less patient, may be that is the right thing to be pursued.
It is seen in the history of Bangladesh many times that women writers who tried to pen seeking women rights from the society or who protested for the women rights, are attempted to be muzzled or even threatened to death by religious or social fanatics as if, women’s speaking up for own rights is an offence! If in an environment, women feel honoured, valued and equal in respect of rights and treatments, why will they pose menace to the family and the society? Who think women education and equality as a bundle of menace, the problem lies in them and in their backward and exploitative mental set-ups. Get a life, you are living in a modern age, you are gifted by reason and conscience by God. Then why you are not letting go of your own internal demons, the thoughts which have propensity to depress and repress the volcano of women power.
When any society or country will try hard to repress the irresistible power of the women, undoubtedly the society and the nation will fall down. So still there are time to make the things right, otherwise verily the society and nation will have to pay for all the wrong things done on women by the way of natural theory of karma.
Bangladesh and we, Bangladeshi populace always feel pride of our existing family system comparing to western world, if the mal-treatments on women goes on and the ailments of the women go unaddressed or poorly addressed, sooner or later we will face tremendous challenges to maintain the pride, as the confidence on the family system is by now started to be deteriorated and right away, multi-faceted social calamities e.g., divorce, female child abortion, dowry, dowry-led murders, domestic violence, eve-teasing etc are in full swing. Simply put-the real menace is not in fostering the women education or women empowerment; it lies in our age-old, futile, exploitative mind-sets towards women of the society. We are digging the hole of our misfortunate by ourselves by allowing the age-old, superstitious dogmas to manipulate us and the society. The sooner this patriarchal society understands it, the better the things have chances to be.
The writer is Lecturer of Law, Daffodil International University.