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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.


While men in Bangladesh hold the majority of powerful positions in politics and society generally, some women have been able to break into the power structure. To celebrate their achievements, as well as to inspire women seeking roles in the future, the Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership (BDAWL) has released Who's Who: Women Leaders at a Glance, the first such reference book ever released in Bangladesh.

The directory contains biographies of 134 women who are playing key roles in Bangladesh in politics, the judiciary, academia, civil service, business, law enforcement and the media. The guide also contains information on women voters, candidates and parliamentarians; a complete list of women MPs in the 9th parliament and women elected to local government; and a gender analysis of the past three elections. It is available for purchase through BDAWL's website.

The wide array of leaders included in the directory are "just the tip of the iceberg," according to Dipu Moni, Bangladesh's foreign minister, who attended a ceremony to mark the launch of the guide. The female workforce has been contributing to the shaping of Bangladesh for a long time, she said.

Among those listed in the guide are Matia Chodhury, minister of agriculture, who was elected to parliament in 1991 and won re-election in 1996, when she was given charge of the ministries for agriculture, food, and disaster management and relief. During her tenure, Bangladesh has become self-sufficient in food production for the first time in its history.

Human rights activist Sultana Kamal is also profiled in the directory. She is the executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, a human rights organization founded in 1986 that has provided legal and mediation assistance to thousands of vulnerable and deprived women.

"Women's empowerment is at the top of the current women's agenda," said Minister Moni, emphasizing that it is the most powerful instrument to fight discrimination against women. Growing numbers of women in parliament and the cabinet have led the Cabinet to propose a new law on the prevention of domestic violence and send it to the parliament for adoption.

BDAWL was launched in November 2008 with the aim of increasing the number of women in leadership positions in all professions through training and orientation programs, workshops and speaker series. NDI is a founding partner of BDAWL.


Pictured above: The cover of Who's Who: Women Leaders at a Glance.


Published September 22, 2010