Call for strengthening united movement for establishing indigenous Women Rights


Hill Voice, 8 June 2024, Dhaka: With the slogan “Strengthen the united movement to establish the rights of Indigenous Women” the first day of the 5th National Indigenous Women Conference was held yesterday (June 7) by Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network (BIWN) at the CBCB Auditorium of Mohammadpur Asad Avenue in Dhaka.

The opening session of the conference was presided over by the convener of the BIWN Minu Maria Mrong. Prominent human rights activist Khushi Kabir inaugurated the opening of the two-day long conference.

Former MP Ushatan Talukdar of Rangamati Hill District, Legal Aid Affairs Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Rekha Saha, Associate Professor of Anthropology Department of Jahangirnagar University Snigdha Rezwana, Vice President of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Ajay A Mri, Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha Director Shahnaz Sumi, Kapaeeng Foundation Acting Chairperson Gauranga Patra, Jatiya Adivasi Parishad President Bichitra Tirki, Rangamati Sadar Upazila Parishad Vice Chairman Rita Chakma and AIPP Executive Member Chandra Tripura spoke among others as honourable guest in the inaugural session. BIWN Co-ordinator Falguni Tripura delivered welcome speech in the event.

More than 100 representatives and observers from different districts across the country have participated in the event. Professor of Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Dhaka University Kaberi Gayen, writer and researcher Pavel Partha, assistant professor of Islamic University Farha Tanjim Titil, Assistant General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Dr. Gajendranath Mahato and others will speak as the guest in different sessions of the conference.

In the opening session, opener and prominent human rights activist Khushi Kabir said that indigenous women are plagued in various problems. We all have to face these problems altogether. She expressed the hope that the indigenous women’s platform “Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network” can work for the development of women and call to raise a united voice.

She also said that everyone regardless of caste and religion, and the indigenous peoples played a significant role in the liberation war of 1971. She highlighted the role of Ila Mitra and Kalpana Chakma in the indigenous movement of indigenous women. In respect of giving importance to the CHT issue and the question of constitutional recognition for indigenous communities, she urged everyone to participate in the movement together.

Former MP Ushatan Talukder said that the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh have many problems, while the indigenous women face many other problems. To whom shall we go, to whom shall we get justice. There is not a single exemplary trial over indigenous women abuse. For this reason, the bond of indigenous women’s network should be stronger. We must organize ourselves first. 26 years passed since the CHT Accord signed but the main provisions of the Accord are still unimplemented. Now, the processes of implementing the CHT Accord is standstill. At present, conspiracies are being made to scrap the CHT Regulation 1900. These provisions are closely related to our rights. We have to get our rights by united movement.

Professor Snigdha Rezwana said that separate provision are needed to establish indigenous women’s rights. Just as Bengali women were subjected to torture by Pak forces during the liberation war, the indigenous women are being victimised to torture today. She highlighted the effect of the patriarchal society in our society.

Rekha Saha said that it is also an achievement to join the indigenous women’s movement with the mainstream movement. We need to be united to move the mainstream women’s movement and the indigenous women’s one today. Everyone’s participation is very important. Above all is human, let’s all build a humanitarian movement for humanity.

Ajay A Mri said that everyone should come forward to protecting the indigenous women’s network. Young people should come forward. Indigenous Women’s Network needs to be created as an umbrella for indigenous women across Bangladesh.

Gauranga Patra said, we need to have a talk to preserve the seats reserved for indigenous women in the National Parliament. Indigenous women all over Bangladesh must unite to strengthen indigenous women’s networks. Issues of disenfranchisement of indigenous women should be highlighted at the national level.

The following recommendations were placed in the inaugural session:

1. To take measures immediately and effectively to stop violence against indigenous women and girls, award exemplary punishment to those involved, and ensure the safety of indigenous women;
2. To provide appropriate compensation, medical and legal assistance to indigenous women and girls who are victims of violence’s;
3. To raise demand of reservation of seats to ensure representation and participation of indigenous women in local and government bodies including the national parliament;
4. To organize trainings for increasing awareness of women leadership issues in various regions on practical subjects. For example: writing FIR, filing general diary in police station;
5. To recommend the formation of a monitoring committee to monitor the levels of violence against indigenous women in Bangladesh and submit periodic reports and recommendations to the parliamentary Caucus on indigenous Affairs and the government;
6. To ensure the participation of women leaders in the adoption of other policies including the National Women’s Policy;
7. To ensure the participation of indigenous women in decision-making processes at local and national levels;
8. To demand the implementation of the CHT Accord and the formation of a separate land commission for the indigenous people in the plain;
9. To keep the effective role of the administration in stopping all forms of violence against women including indigenous women;
10. Demanding reinstatement of quota system in education, employment sector;
11. To strengthen the united movement for the establishment of indigenous women’s rights.