First Bangladeshi female envoy to Mideast vows to promote women’s cause

The first Bangladeshi woman to become a top envoy in the Middle East has vowed to promote gender equality. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 20 February 2020

First Bangladeshi female envoy to Mideast vows to promote women’s cause

  • Nahid Sobhan will start as the Bangladeshi ambassador to Jordan on Friday
  • Lauds Jordan’s empowerment of women and girls’ education

DHAKA: 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.


Turkey blocks delivery of medical equipment to coronavirus hard-hit Spain

Updated 04 April 2020

Turkey blocks delivery of medical equipment to coronavirus hard-hit Spain

  • Spain had yet to receive the respirators it had bought from China after Turkey “decided to keep them in case they may need them in their battle against coronavirus”
  • Turkey earlier restricted the export of respirator-related medical equipment in order to meet domestic needs

DUBAI: The Spanish government said on Friday that Turkey had blocked a delivery of medical supplies urgently needed to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the country, local daily El Pais reported.  

Spain had yet to receive the respirators it had bought from China after Turkey “decided to keep them in case they may need them in their battle against coronavirus,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said during a press conference.

The newly appointed minister of Spain - which on Saturday has briefly overtaken Italy as the country with the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections - said the equipment remained in Turkish custody over Ankara’s restrictions on the export of medical devices.

Last month Turkey’s trade minister said the country was restricting the export of respirator-related medical equipment in order to meet domestic needs.

Ruhsar Pekcan said that the export of equipment including ventilators, intubation devices and intensive care monitors would be subject to government authorization.

The Spanish embassy said it had been trying to resume the delivery of the respirators, which were particularly bought by two local communities with critically ill coronavirus patients, according to unnamed sources cited by El Pais.