Girl Talk with Leaders: Empowering Women through SRHR and Entrepreneurship

With a focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and women empowerment, the event, titled “Girl Talk with Leaders,” highlighted the crucial role of young girls and women in shaping the future of Bangladesh.

The two-day gala event and entrepreneur carnival took place at the Krishibid Institution Bangladesh Complex. The event was organised in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, aiming to accelerate Save the Children in Bangladesh’s investment in girls. The spotlight was on their future and the empowerment tools essential for their success.

One of the key highlights was the Entrepreneurs’ Carnival, a platform showcasing women-led businesses, especially those strengthened by Save the Children’s Education for Youth Empowerment (EYE) program. This program equips young people with vocational training, practical skills, and market linkage, fostering their economic independence and contributing to SRHR by promoting informed decision-making.

“Investing in women is one of many steps we need to prioritise to accelerate their success,” said Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar, senior policy advisor at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh.

Shumon Sengupta, country director of Save the Children in Bangladesh, encapsulated the organisation’s commitment: “We aspire to empower young people to break the cycle of poverty by investing in their knowledge, life skills, and technical expertise. Increasing their agency has the highest potential to end child, early, and forced marriage, and prevent early parenthood.”

The event’s panel discussion, “Girl Talk with Leaders,” served as a vibrant dialogue platform. It brought together young minds with government and development organisation leaders. Topics ranged from policy frameworks supporting women’s empowerment to the aspirations of 18,000 girls surveyed across 64 districts of Bangladesh. Shamema Akther Shamme, advisor on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), shared insights from the survey, emphasising the support needed for girls’ progress.

The event also witnessed the “Invest in Women: Idea Challenge,” engaging 49 women-led youth groups. These groups presented innovative solutions, from changing social norms to tackling plastic waste management and improving cybersecurity awareness. This challenge reflected the importance of investing in youth and women’s economic empowerment, education, health, and leadership capacity.

Aroma Dutta, member of parliament, stressed the need for inclusivity in these dialogues: “Young boys and men must be a part of the women-centered dialogue. Our engagement with them must be as methodological as how we engage in equality and inclusion dialogues.”

The second day of the event continued the momentum with a panel discussion on the “Importance of Investment in Young Women.” Tania Sharmin, Director at Save the Children in Bangladesh, moderated the discussion, highlighting the multifaceted approaches to women empowerment.

Sadia Hossain, COO of YY Venture, emphasised the importance of economic empowerment, while Bitopi Das Chowdhury from Standard Chartered Bank discussed corporate support for women-led initiatives. Madhu Kalra, also from Save the Children in Bangladesh, spoke about advocacy and media’s role in amplifying women’s voices.

This event was not just a celebration but a call to action. It highlighted the interconnectedness of SRHR and women empowerment in shaping a brighter future for Bangladesh. As Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar aptly put it, “Investing in women is just the start. We must mentor them towards a mindset where they are the builders of their own futures.”

By investing in girls today, we are paving the way for a more inclusive, empowered, and prosperous tomorrow.

Source: The Dhaka Tribune

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