Bangladesh ambassador to the Netherlands Sheikh Mohammed Belal said that women in Bangladesh were driving its development journey in a bigger way as Bangladesh’s economic transformation was driven, in large part, by social changes, starting with the empowerment of women. Ambassador Belal made the remarks while speaking in a high-level seminar at the International Criminal Court as a designated panelist held in the Hague recently.

The embassies of Canada and Switzerland, in partnership with the International Criminal Court, arranged the seminar on the occasion of launching of the International Gender Champions Den Haag Hub, said the embassy. ‘Gender Champion’ was an initiative where individuals made specific commitments to pursue the cause of women empowerment while pledging for upholding the spirit of gender equality in all spheres of work.

Terming women empowerment a great social achievement of Bangladesh, Belal shared the history of how it came about and narrated the history of Bangladesh’s development journey where innovative initiatives like microfinance, apparel and textile industry helped women come out of the confines of their households to the market place and industry.

Citing the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018, Belal shared how Bangladesh earned its rank at the 48th well ahead of the countries like the United States, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic and Singapore. Bangladesh performed exceedingly well in the political empowerment domain being ranked 5th in the same report where only Iceland, Nicaragua, Norway and Rwanda were above Bangladesh, Belal noted.

While speaking about the contribution of working women of Bangladesh’s apparel and textile industry, the ambassador informed the audience that Bangladesh increased wages by 262 per cent in the last nine years while the prices of apparel dropped by about 6.53 per cent in the US and about 7.00 per cent in Europe during the same period.

Belal urged the brands and conscious consumers to consider ‘optional barcode’ to contribute voluntarily to the workers in the ready-made garment industry and requested the European Union and brands to match such contributions in the form of topping up. President of the ICC Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji inaugurated the seminar where Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the ICC, Caitlin Kraft, Executive Director of Women@TheTable and IGC co-founder, Hans de Boer, Chairman of the Confederation of the Netherlands Industry and Employers,
joined the panels which was moderated by Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn, ambassador of Switzerland to the Netherlands. Registrar of the ICC Peter Lewis made the concluding remarks where ambassador of Canada to the Netherlands Sabine Nӧlke made the opening comment.