Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned herself into a global leader during the last decade by leading the immense development of the country and contributing significantly in various global issues. She addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the 18th time on Friday. Her farsighted leadership and depth of knowledge over the global matters have really taken Bangladesh to new heights. People, from all around the world, look up to her not only as a remarkable global leader but also as inspiration for billions of women. Today we are celebrating the 75th birthday of this great leader.
During the course of her 18 speeches at UNGA, Sheikh Hasina brought up and focused on many issues and areas like; in 2011 she said that, a digital Bangladesh – self-sufficient in food, developed in education, health and gender equity, free from the curse of poverty and climate change is our dream.. She repeatedly focused on ‘zero tolerance’ for extremism and terrorism over the years at UNGA and achieved praiseworthy success in containing terrorism in Bangladesh. She has really proved herself as a man of words.
Last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina especially focused on multilateralism, which has become very important during this COVID-19 pandemic. She mentioned the instance of creation of the UN as the Second World War created opportunities for countries to come together in their efforts to cooperate and said that, similarly this pandemic has emphasized the need for collective action under the guidance of right leadership.
This year, terming Covid-19 a common enemy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has placed six proposals before the global leaders to fight the deadly virus with fresh, inclusive and effective ideas. At this 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talked about Afghanistan situation, climate change and equitable vaccine distribution with utmost importance.
In her first proposal, Sheikh Hasinahas called for a Covid-free world focusing on ensuring universal and affordable access to vaccines for people across the world. She mentioned that, according to the World Bank, 84 percent of vaccines have so far gone to people in high and upper middle-income countries, while the low-income countries received less than 1 percent. She then urged that, immediate transfer of vaccine technologies could be a means to ensure vaccine equity and Bangladesh is ready to produce vaccines in mass scale if technical know-how is shared with the country and patent waiver is granted.
In her second proposal, she mentioned that, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the climate vulnerable countries as she called upon the rich and industrialized countries to cut emissions; compensate for the damage and ensure adequate financing and technology transfer for adaptation and resilience building. She also said that, no country, rich or poor, is immune to the destructive effects. She said as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the Vulnerable Twenty Group of Ministers of Finance, Bangladesh has launched the “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan – Decade 2030” outlining a transformative agenda from climate vulnerability to climate prosperity.
Her third proposal was about education recovery as the pandemic has severely disrupted the education system and millions of students in low-income countries did not have the resources and technologies to join remote learning facilities, jeopardizing decades of improvements in enrolment and literacy rates. She urged for a global plan to prioritize education recovery by investing in digital tools and services, access to the internet and capacity building of teachers while asking for a UN system to rally partnership and resources to make that happen.
Fourthly Sheikh Hasina proposed that, the development partners provide more support for an incentive-based graduation structure to motivate and incentivize sustainable graduation from LDC. While Bangladesh is on the right track to graduate from the LDC category despite the extraordinary challenges modeled by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has, however, put at risk the advancement prospect and ambition of many countries.
In the fifth proposal, the Bangladeshi premiere mentioned that, migrants have been the frontline contributors during the pandemic as essential workers in the health and other emergency services and yet many of them have been particularly hard-hit due to loss of jobs, salary cuts, lack of access to health and other social services, and forcible return. She has called for fair treatment of the migrants.
Lastly, PM Hasina said that, the Rohingya crisis is in its fifth year now and till now, not a single forcibly displaced Myanmar national could be repatriated to Myanmar. She emphasized for Myanmar to create the conditions conducive for their return. She mentioned her government’s steps to ensure vaccination for the eligible Rohingya refugees. She also said that, while we expect the ASEAN leadership to step up their ongoing efforts, the international community needs to support all the accountability processes.
Sheikh Hasina also said she envisions a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Asia while believing on Afghan people to rebuild their country and to decide the course of future and in that process, Bangladesh remains ready to continue to work with the people of Afghanistan and the international community for its socioeconomic development.
She also said peace remains a preeminent focus of Bangladesh’s foreign policy. She mentioned that, the threat of terrorism and violent extremism had been jeopardizing peace and security in many parts of the world and therefore, Bangladesh maintains a ‘zero tolerance policy’ towards these risks.
About the disarmament issue, she said as per the constitutional obligation, Bangladesh has always been a steadfast supporter of complete disarmament. Talking about peacekeeping missions of Bangladesh she said, despite unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, the peacekeepers are serving in some of the most difficult circumstances across the globe with utmost dedication and professionalism and the international community must do everything possible to ensure their safety and security.
The six proposals of Prime minister Sheikh Hasinareveal her visionary leadership and her grasp over the global concerns. The day before she addressed the UNGA, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres highly appreciated the development marvel of Bangladesh under the dynamic and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as he lauded her and her apt leadership to advance the country with overall development after bilateral talks. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Robert Miller said that the speech delivered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the 76th UNGA has fascinated him and thanked her for highlighting important issues such as climate change, post-Covid-19 economic recovery, food security, equality and sustainable development in her speech.
The eldest daughter of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been playing a leading role in approaching global issues which carrying out vivid development works at home. Her valorous leadership has brought so many awards and recognitions that we find very difficult to count. But her journey was full of obstacles as she even had to go through many attempts on her life. But during this journey she turned herself into a valiant leader, the mother of humanity and a global leader. Along with that, she transformed Bangladesh into a role model of development while placing this country at a stage of honor in front of the global audience.
The most important side of Sheikh Hasina is her love for the fellow countrymen which inspired her to take initiatives to arrange accommodation for every homeless people of Bangladesh, a mammoth task – no leaders previously could even think about. She courageously declared war on terror, drugs and corruption on the face of serious threats. Her political insight, honesty, devotion, patriotism and capability of leading in international arena, assures us that, Bangladesh received a proper leadership at proper time. If this type of leadership continues, the plan of making Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021 and developed country by 2041 will not be hard to achieve.
On her 75th birthday, we wish her a healthy, happy and long life as we pay respect to our beloved leader.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela