Frontpage > News > Search news

Women: Only together can we make change happen

May 2 2016
Seminar on indigenous women in Bangladesh makes it clear that there is still a lot to be done all the way from community level to the national level before men and women can enjoy equal rights

By Signe Leth and Cæcilie Mikkelsen/IWGIA

In two weeks time, 5000 leaders and activists from around the world will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark, to discuss how to further the rights of women in the context of the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda.

Under the headline “Women Deliver”, the global conference taking place on 16-19 May 2016, will put focus on the value of investing in women – pointing out that when you invest education, health and equal rights in women, they invest in their children and communities.

In the countryside of eastern Bangladesh, this message is still not easily accepted.  

"We do not want to prioritize and invest in women - they will be married off and move away anyway", said a male traditional leader attending a seminar Saturday on the situation of the human rights of indigenous women and the role of community leaders.

The seminar, organized by two indigenous organisations supported by IWGIA in Kakonhat, Rashahi, gathered traditional leaders, schoolteachers, local government officials, and indigenous men and women and stirred vivid discussions about women’s rights.

According to the organizers, it is crucial to include both men and women, activist and leaders in discussions of gender equality. In their experience, women cannot be empowered without an enabling environment.

“Even I, who have attended several women's rights seminars and workshops, am not able to implement equality in my own family", said one of the indigenous women at the seminar.

"I am not blaming you, but we need your support to implement change in our society", said another indigenous women, addressing the men.

The seminar, held on 30 April 2016, was organised with the support of IWGIA and the European Union as part of an ongoing project.