Dhaka, April 12 (UNB) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said women’s rights, voices and participation must be at “the centre of peacekeeping decision-making.”
He told the Security Council on Thursday that women’s rights, voices and participation are “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide.
Through its landmark resolution 1325 on women and peace and security, the Council reaffirmed the participation and involvement of women, which the UN chief hailed as “a key element in the maintenance of international peace and security”.
He also noted the UN’s “essential system-wide effort” to enhance women’s representation at all levels and in all arenas, through his Strategy on Gender Parity, according to UN News.
“This is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, he stated, citing evidence that more women peacekeepers lead to more credible protection responses that meet the needs of all.
In patrol units women can better access intelligence to provide a holistic view of security challenges, and at checkpoints they promote a less confrontational atmosphere, he said.
Within troop contingents they lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse; yield greater reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; and can access local women’s networks, leading to more inclusive peace processes.
‘Step towards parity’
The Secretary-General thanked the more than 150 Member States who have signed on to his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which calls for women’s participation in every stage of peace operations, and integrates a gender perspective into all analysis, planning, implementation and reporting.
And he was grateful to the States who, at last week’s Ministerial on Peacekeeping, launched the Elsie Initiative to break down barriers to increasing women’s participation in peace operations.
In support of the UN’s commitments in these areas, Guterres noted a range of actions, including the Gender-Responsive Peacekeeping Operations Policy, which “commits us to promoting leadership and accountability both for gender equality and for the women, peace and security agenda”.
Flagging that since December 2015, the number of women in uniform has increased by only around one per cent, he spelled out that “this is clearly not enough”.
“This year”, he informed the Chamber, “we rolled out the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy”, which, among other things, targets by 2028 a range of 15 to 35 per cent of women’s representation, including military, police and justice and corrections personnel.
While acknowledging that it “has been more challenging”, Guterres vowed “to press ahead”, adding that “keep on track, we need assistance from you, the Member States”.
He asked for a greater focus on women in battalions and formed police units and for the sustained recruitment and deployment of women within national services.
Noting that for the first time in UN history the senior leadership is close to achieving gender parity, Guterres reiterated his commitment to sustaining that progress: “We need to bring the same spirit to our peace operations”, he stressed. “This is crucial for our effectiveness, credibility and reputation”.
‘Pushing gender equality’
The first female Force Commander and current Head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission, Major General Kristin Lund told the Council that the “momentum of pushing gender equality must be kept”.
As Force Commander of the UN mission in Cyprus, she teamed up with Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative at the time.
“For once I did not need to convince my boss that gender was important” she said. “Both of us had gender equality in our spine”.
The Major General enumerated some examples of her work in increasing the number of women, helping them in missions and reaching out to local communities.
Noting many reasons why the armed forces have a difficulty keeping women in the ranks, she outlined frequent obstacles thrown up by male culture in military settings, giving the example of how “posters with half naked women” hang in mission gyms.
She also mandated that the all-male teams in military skills competitions had to have females.
“Gender is on the top of my agenda”, she said, adding that she initiated a female military network, engaged women to become more visible and increased the number of female observers.
Troop and police contributing countries “must do more” she said.
“We, out in the field, need to be able to reach out to the whole society. Only you can make that happen”, the Force Commander concluded.
Diversity is strength
Chairing the meeting, German Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen said: “Women are no better peacekeepers than men, but they are different. And this diversity is a strength”.
Pointing out that Resolution 1325 has been in effect for almost 20 years, she maintained that it is “still far from full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace operations”.
To change that, von der Leyen suggested, among other things, to have successful female mentors to share their stories to younger women; have more women in national forces for deployment to international peacekeeping missions; and assess national barriers that keeps more women from joining peace operations.
“The peacekeeper’s blue helmet symbolizes protection and security”, she said. “Let us make this helmet be worn by more women. For the sake of peace”.
Dhaka, Apr 11 (UNB) - Bangladesh has expressed it interest to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South American trade bloc MERCOSUR at an early date to tap the under-exploited South American market.
Bangladesh has already submitted “Letter of Intent” to that effect to secure greater access for Bangladeshi products to a huge market of 300 million consumers across Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam conveyed this interest when new non-resident Argentine Ambassador Daniel Chuburu (based in New Delhi) called on him on Thursday.
Argentine Ambassador, whose country is the current President of this trade bloc, promised full cooperation in this regard, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Argentine Ambassador emphasized the need to promote the overall bilateral trade between the two countries.
In this context, he proposed to hold a regional workshop/seminar on agriculture and agro-business in Dhaka sometime soon to promote better cooperation and share Argentine skills and expertise in agricultural sector.
Ambassador opined that such cooperation could go a long way in terms of ensuring food security.
State Minister Alam gratefully recalled Argentine Writer and Critic Victoria Ocampo’s commendable role in support of Bangladesh’s Historic War of Liberation that led and inspired the intelligentsia in Argentina and beyond to protest against the atrocities inflicted on Bangalees by Pakistan military and their local collaborators.
The Bangladesh State Minister also sought Argentina’s support for Bangladesh’s candidature for the post of Deputy Director General of IOM.
Argentine Ambassador promised to give its due consideration.
Among others, cooperation in culture and sports also figured in the discussion.
Bangladesh State Minister looked forward to receiving Argentine football team in Dhaka in 2021 to play a match marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Argentine Ambassador presented his credentials to the President at Bangabhaban on April 10.
Dhaka, Apr 11 (UNB) - The U.S. Embassy, including the Consular Section, will remain closed on Sunday (April 14), in celebration of the Bengali New Year, a Bangladeshi national holiday.
The American Center with the Archer K. Blood American Center Library and the Education USA Student Advising Centerwill also remain closed on the day.
However, emergency services for American citizens will be available, said a press release on Thursday.
Dhaka, Apr 11 (UNB) – Finland Ambassador to Bangladesh (non-resident) Nina Vaskunlahti on Thursday emphasised the need for continued global pressure on Myanmar for the quick repatriation of displaced Rohingyas.
"The world community will have to continue pressure on Myanmar government to take their citizens back from Bangladesh," she said.
The envoy made the remarks when she met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban .
PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
Referring to the influx of over 10 lakh Rohingyas into Cox's Bazar, the Prime Minister said they have outnumbered the local people there.
The local people have accepted the sufferings caused by the presence of huge Rohingyas on humanitarian ground, she said.
The Finish envoy congratulated Sheikh Hasina on her party's landslide victory in the last general election and her assumption of office as the Prime Minister for the fourth time.
Vaskunlahti highly appreciated Bangladesh's tremendous development under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. "Bangladesh's economy is progressing fast under your dynamic leadership," he said.
The Finish envoy expressed her country's interest to invest in Bangladesh's textile and energy sectors. "We want to produce electricity in Bangladesh from wastes," she was quoted as saying.
Vaskunlahti also said Finland is keen to extend cooperation with Bangladesh in the fields of education and IT.
She mentioned that many Bangladeshi students are studying in Finland.
Expressing satisfaction over the existing bilateral relations, the Finish envoy said the foreign office consultation between the two countries will be held in May.
Pointing out that Bangladesh is producing high quality leather and leather goods, the Prime Minister said Finland can import those products from here.
Hasina said the main aim of her government is to develop the country further. "We're putting in our best efforts to fulfill the basic needs of people."
About Bangladesh's economic progress, Sheikh Hasina said her government expects 8:1 percent GDP growth in the current fiscal. “The purchasing capacity of people has increased to a great extent due to our strides."
The prime minister said the government has adopted Delta Plan-2100 with the cooperation of the Dutch government to build a beautiful abode for future generations.
PMO's Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman, PM’s Military Secretary Major General Mia Mohammad Zainul Abedin and Finland's Honorary Consul General Aziz Khan were present.
Earlier, visiting Indian Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban.
Referring to the implementation of the historic land boundary agreement (LBA) with India, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the Indian government and all political parties of India in this regard.
"All political parties of India lent their support to the LBA Bill unitedly in parliament," she said.
The Prime Minister also recalled India's unequivocal support to Bangladesh's liberation war.
The Indian Defence Secretary pointed out defence cooperation between the two countries.
PM's Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lt Gen Md Mahfuzur Rahman, PM's Military Secretary Major General Mia Mohammad Zainul Abedin and Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Riva Das Ganguly were present.
Dhaka, Apr 10 (UNB) - Envoys of six different countries presented their credentials to President Abdul Hamid on Wednesday at Bangabhaban.
The envoys are-Gambian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Jainaba Jagne, non-resident ambassadors -Ariel Andrade Galindo of El Salvador, Fatoumata Balde of Guinea, Daniel Chuburu of Argentina, Julius Pranevicius of Lithuania and Muhamed Cengic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Principal Information Officer Mohammad Joynal Abedin briefed reporters after the ceremony.
Welcoming the envoys, Hamid said Bangladesh is interested to strengthen bi-lateral relationship alongside multi-lateral relationship, Mohammad Joynal Abedin quoted the President as saying.
He called upon the envoys to take effective measures to utilize the potential sectors of their respective countries for mutual benefit alongside strengthening the diplomatic relationship.
Mentioning Bangladesh as the potential country for tourism, the President said Bangladesh has the world’s largest sea beach in Cox's Bazar and the Sundarbans which is the part of World Heritage.
He also sought the cordial support from the envoys to uphold the tourism potentials of Bangladesh.
The envoys expressed hope that bilateral relations with Bangladesh will be strengthened in the days to come.
Praising the socio-economic development of Bangladesh, they sought the President’s cooperation in discharging their duties.
Secretaries concerned to the President and high officials of the Foreign Ministry were present.
Earlier, on their arrival at Bangabhaban, a smartly turned-out contingent of the horse-mounted President Guard Regiment (PGR) gave the envoys guards of honour as part of the ceremony.