The first Bangladeshi woman to become a top envoy in the Middle East has vowed to promote gender equality and do more to protect Bangladeshi female workers abroad.
Ambassador-in-waiting Nahid Sobhan will take office on Friday and lead the Bangladeshi mission in Amman, Jordan.“Bangladesh and Jordan have strong similarities in social development, especially in girls’ education,” Sobhan told Arab News, as she lauded her upcoming host country’s highly educated female population, highlighting Jordanian women’s “potential to advance and deliver economic, social, and political development.”
She likened Jordan’s high female professional participation to that of Bangladesh, where “women’s empowerment and participation have been a major factor” in development and one of the government’s 10 priority action areas.
“Bangladesh is perhaps the world’s only country where in its national parliament, the leader of the house, the deputy leader of the house, the speaker and the leader of the opposition are all women. In the present parliament, there are 72 female MPs,” she said, adding that in local government bodies 33 percent of seats were earmarked for women in order to promote women’s participation in politics.
She referred to her own appointment as an “ample manifestation” of her government’s efforts for gender equality.
“Bangladesh has secured the top position in South Asia in reducing gender disparity,” Sobhan said.
Of key importance during her diplomatic service will be promoting and acting for the safety of more than 100,000 Bangladeshi female workers in Jordan.“I believe my identity as a woman will give me leverage in garnering the trust of female Bangladeshi migrants,” she said, highlighting that better communication with the workers themselves helped improve their awareness of security while in a foreign country.
“Very recently, right after my appointment as ambassador-designate, BNSK led a group of female migrant workers going to Jordan to see me. I spoke to them about their role in promoting safe migration, for them and for others,” Sobhan said, referring to a Bangladeshi women’s organization helping female workers.
Besides taking up the women’s cause, Sobhan is also planning to strengthen economic diplomacy with Jordan.
“An increase in trade and investment will be important sectors for me to pursue. I would also like to arrange visits of high dignitaries in this regard,” she said.
As this year marks the centenary of the birth of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a politician and statesman who referred to in Bangladesh as “the father of the nation,” Sobhan said a year-long program would be held at the Bangladeshi embassy in Amman to celebrate the occasion.