All three top offices of the current parliament—the speaker, leader and opposition leader of the House—are held by three females. But a parliamentary standing committee of that parliament has made a hilarious recommendation: replacing female UNOs to provide guards of honour for deceased freedom fighters.
Such a recommendation is highly contemptuous and a direct assault on women empowerment. Not only that, this goes against the spirit of our Liberation War and the constitution as well.
The parliamentary standing committee on liberation war affairs ministry on Sunday at a meeting made the recommendation and asked the ministry to take action required to implement it.
When the country's chief executive is a female, some MPs, who are members of the said parliamentary body are unable to accept a female Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) to lead the guard of the honour ceremony for a deceased freedom fighter.
In making the recommendation, they bothered little the constitutional provisions that completely bar making discrimination on grounds of sex and religion.
The parliamentary body's outrageous decision infringed some fundamental rights of entire women people guaranteed by the constitution.
In the articles 27 and 29, the constitution clearly announces that all citizens are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of law and there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in respect of employment or office in the service of the Republic.
Alas! the said parliamentary body has moved to declare female unfit to hold the office of the UNO and act as UNO when it comes to provide the guard of honour for deceased freedom fighters.
The irrational move also goes against the fundamental spirit of our Liberation War in which women also fought alongside male on the battle field.
The constitution which was a direct outcome of the Liberation War, in the preamble unequivocally announces the fundamental high ideals of the war—nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism.
In secular and democratic state, female can not be made subjects to discrimination. Unfortunately, the said parliamentary body has done it.
And in so doing, it did not hesitate to bulldoze the fundamental principle of the state policy stipulated in article 10 that says "A socialist economic system shall be established with a view to ensuring the attainment of a just and egalitarian society, free from the exploitation of man by man.
More or less 100 females are holding the post of the top post of the upazila administration, UNO, across the country divided into around 500 upazilas.
Bangladesh is globally lauded for women empowerment both political and economic.
But on Sunday, the said parliamentary body has written a black chapter in the history of women empowerment.
In defence of such move, one of its members cited "social stigma" that locals do not think "appropriate" when a female UNP provides the guard of honour for a deceased freedom fighter.
With such a lame and peculiar excuse, MPs who joined the parliamentary committee meeting in fact joined the ill-efforts by the fundamentalist forces that always stand on the way of women empowerment.
May good sense prevail and the meeting proceeding of the parliamentary body should be expunged without delay.
Shakhawat Liton is Deputy Executive Editor of The Business Standard