Awami League puts focus on social security, women’s empowerment in election manifesto

Bangladesh’s transformation in the past 15 years has made it a fast-paced country moving towards realising its potential, Hasina says

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 27 Dec 2023, 09:06 AM
Updated : 27 Dec 2023, 09:06 AM

The Awami League’s manifesto for the 12th national election has put a particular emphasis on initiatives to provide social security and empower women.

Bangladesh’s transformation in the past 15 years has made it a fast-paced country moving towards realising its potential, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Wednesday as she laid out the party’s vision for the future.

UNIVERSAL PENSION AND WELFARE IN FOCUS

The premier highlighted a number of the government’s initiatives to protect vulnerable groups.

She touted the universal pension system enacted and inaugurated in 2023, saying “We urge all citizens to take this opportunity to safeguard their future lives.”

Hasina vowed that, in continuation of the party’s Vision-2041 plan, basic health and family welfare services will be enhanced.

“A Universal Health System will be established to ensure equal health care for all citizens,” she said.

“Primary health care and medicine distribution free of cost will be continued through community clinics. To ensure digital healthcare, a unique health ID will be provided to every person in the country, and hospital automation management will be introduced.”

Special grants have been allocated for health research, health insurance will be introduced and treatment centres for aging citizens will be established, Hasina said.

“Effective measures will be taken to introduce geriatric services in all government hospitals in the country.”

She also spoke of ‘comprehensive measures’ to keep the elderly active, increase their contributions to society, and safeguard them. Initiatives will also be taken to introduce senior citizens to digital technology and use modern advances to improve their welfare.

Efforts will be made and expanded to rehabilitate street children and provide them with safe housing. Orphanages for destitute and deprived children will be established and vocational education programmes implemented. Measures will also be taken to phase out child labour.

The manifesto also promised that mental health and autism healthcare facilities will be enhanced.

Opportunities for the inclusion of people with disabilities will be expanded, the premier said, noting the launch of the Bangabandhu Protibondhi Surokkha Bima. Measures will be taken so children with special needs can learn in an environment suitable for them.

Allowances are provided to persons with disabilities online or through mobile phones, she said. Businesses and industries are given tax exemptions and special incentives to hire the disabled as well.

Under the Awami League government’s tenure, the parliament amended the Vested Property Act and resolved issues related to it, Hasina said.

If it returned to power, the party will continue to protect the rights of ethnic communities, groups, and religious minorities through the formation of the National Commission for Minorities and the enacting of the Special Protection of Minorities Act.

The government has ensured that flats are built to house Dalits and Horijon, while leprosy patients, nomadic groups and other communities are to be provided houses free of cost and two katha of land. Vocational training will be provided to enhance the skills of disadvantaged and backwards communities.

Efforts will also be made to include the Hijra community as a part of mainstream society through the preservation of their fundamental rights, the premier said. Social justice will be ensured by improving education, housing, and quality of life through cash assistance and a nationwide housing programme.

“The initiative to protect the rights of every person in the light of the Constitution will be continued,” she said.

WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT A PRIORITY

Measures are to be taken to encourage greater participation of women in industry, trade, and commerce, Hasina said. This includes increasing and improving job opportunities for rural women through training and improving their social status. Women’s labour organisations will be consolidated.

The Joyeeta Foundation’s role in developing women entrepreneurs and businesswomen will be expanded too.

The premier highlighted the wage hike for garment factory workers – many of whom are women – from Tk 800 in 1996 to Tk 12,500 in 2023.

The Awami League has promised to expand training of skilled manpower in consideration of international needs with the goal of increasing the number of expatriate workers. Legal measures will be taken to safeguard women workers abroad and regional cooperation has been strengthened to crack down on the trafficking of women and children.

Laws have also been enacted to end discrimination against girl children, stop violence against them, and ensure their safety, Hasina said.

“Activities for women empowerment, gender equality, economic empowerment, and creating a supportive environment for women’s development will continue,” she said.