Published in the Daily Star, Dhaka 9th January 2010
The meeting with Sheikh Hasina
The welcome in Chittagong
Cherie is delighted to be a patron of the AUW
Cherie was honoured to meet with Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Bangaldeah
Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, highly praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's role in social and political empowerment of women in Bangladesh.
Cherie, also the head of Cherie Blair Foundation, came up with the appreciation when she met Hasina at her official residence Jamuna yesterday evening.
Cherie arrived in Dhaka earlier in the day on a four-day visit to attend a programme of Asian University of Women, Chittagong.
PM's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad briefed newsmen after the meeting.
Hasina told Cherie that the people of Bangladesh always recall with deep gratitude the support and cooperation of the British government and its people during Bangladesh's Liberation war in 1971.
She said relations between Bangladesh and the UK are defined by shared aspirations for and common values of democracy, development and human rights, a vibrant trade and economic partnership.
Hasina also mentioned the role of the UK and other European countries in restoration of democracy in Bangladesh through holding the December 29 polls in a free, fair, neutral and acceptable manner.
The PM highlighted the successes in empowerment of women and the enhanced position of women in Bangladesh's politics, government and society, parliament and local government institutions.
She stated that her government has identified women empowerment as one of the key constituent elements for poverty reduction.
Hasina informed Cherie that Bangladesh is committed to improving the socioeconomic conditions of women and integrating them into the mainstream of national life.
"The main goals of the National Policy for Women Advancement are to bring about equality between men and women, and improve the conditions for women," she said.
Bangladesh is vigorously pursuing policies and programmes to eradicate repression on women and bring them into the forefront of social and economic activities, Hasina said.
The premier said the political empowerment of women started in 1996 during the previous tenure of the present government when directly elected representatives of women were included in local government bodies.
Presently, this process has got a momentum as one vice-chairman at upazila level has already been included in the local government, she said.
Hasina said a significant number of women were nominated in the last parliamentary election from the Awami League-led coalition and a record number of female parliamentarians are there in the in the 9th parliament.
Cherie Blair also hailed government's various initiatives and programmes to ensure quality education for the people of all walks of life.
She sought the government's continuous support and cooperation for further development of the Asian University of Women, Chittagong.
In reply, Hasina said her government will do everything necessary for ensuring quality education for the people of all strata.
Ambassador at Large M Ziauddin and Private Secretary to the PM Nazrul Islam Khan were present.
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