Bangladesh is being heralded as a development miracle, but human development challenges remain for the country to look forward to the next 50 years, experts said at an international conference on Wednesday.
They said Bangladesh’s human development challenges are lingering, deepening and emerging. The remarks came at the virtual international conference entitled “Fifty Years of Bangladesh: Retrospect and Prospect” organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in collaboration with the South Asia Program of Cornell University.
Former Director of Human Development Report Office at UNDP Dr Selim Jahan said that Bangladesh marks the Golden Jubilee of its independence this year. Over the past 50 years, the country has remained on a steady trajectory and pushed that trajectory to a higher level.
“Bangladesh’s human development challenges are lingering, deepening and emerging. Some of these challenges are lingering challenges, like poverty, gender inequality; some are deepening challenges, like inequalities, climate change; and some are, undoubtedly, emerging challenges, like human security and Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr Selim explained.
The discussion identifies the policy options and required institutional reforms to march forward.
“The global scenario would also give rise to some human development challenges for Bangladesh. The present discussion reflects on the overall human development landscape of Bangladesh from a historical perspective over the past 50 years,” he added.
Dr Selim said that it focuses on human development trends of Bangladesh - the achievements, the disparities and the deprivations and highlights the factors contributing to the achievement.
Research Fellow of Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at University of Sussex, UK, Dr Sohela Nazneen said in the last 50 years, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress on gender equality gains, starting from a lower base compared to other countries in the region.
“Sticky social norms and gatekeepers still restrict women’s access to resources, spaces within formal institutions and voice. However, Are the gender equality gains sustainable?” she questioned.
Speaking on Understanding Civil Society in Bangladesh: Evolution, Issues and Challenges, CPD’s distinguished fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya said the civil society in Bangladesh has a long and eventful history with significant achievements.
“The roots of Bangladesh’s civil society may be traced back to the pre-independence period. In 1952, the Language Movement martyrs were the forebearers of Bangladesh’s civil society; campaigners for Jukta Front Government in 1954; participants of Education Movement in 1962; contribution to Six-Point Proposal of AL in 1966 by Rehman Sobhan and Nurul Islam; and anti-Ayub uprising in 1969 by Shaheed Professor Shamsuzzoha of Rajshahi University,” he added.
There is a record of 1,222 intellectual martyrs, including 991 educationists, 49 doctors, 42 lawyers, 13 journalists, nine litterateur and artists, five engineers and two others, according to Banglapedia. Dr Debapriya added that the discussion concluded by underscoring the challenges faced by the civil society in Bangladesh in the context of its shrinking space and reflects on the outlook.