Bangladeshi PM Khalida Zia stuck to her program and passed a constitutional amendment increasing parliamentary seats by 45 - dedicated only to women. Awami League, and other women's rights groups, have been opposed to that program, insisting that women should compete in the national league on open-polls. I was gonna herald the decision and pooh-pooh the Awami league but in today's LaT [r.r] Barbara Ehrenreich, has a deep-felt piece on feminism confronting Pvt. England:
Remember when Benazir Bhutto became the first female PM of Pakistan? No one objected to her leadership (as long as she was properly modest in her public appearences) but the charges that were raised were of corruption. Not moral corruption but old-fashioned looting the public till. That brave step for female empowerment got ramroded by a female symbol of corruption and mismanagement.
I do agree with Ehrenreich. I can see that Awami League and other parties in Bangladesh want to fight gender inequality on society's terms and I think we should support such efforts in Pakistan and elsewhere. and yet. something still compels me to praise the Bangladeshi PM's decision. I do not think that women in South Asia (barring India) are able to play on a level field and need whatever help they can from the constitution. I think that women in Pakistan and Bangladesh face institutional and religious sexism and cannot hope to master the public and private domain at the same time. So, akin, to Brown v Board of Education, this constitutional step is needed. Very much so.
Except a la Ehrenreich, these women MPs [Members of the Parliament not Military Police] should subvert the on-going system of despair in Bangladesh.