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Bangladesh: Women and Ethnic Minorities

Volume 688: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the lessons which can be learned from experience in Bangladesh concerning the participation of women from ethnic minorities in public and civic life. [HL787]

In the last Bangladesh parliamentary election in 2001, women candidates won just six of 300 general seats (2 per cent). In response to this situation, Parliament passed a Bill in November 2004 to reintroduce 45 additional reserved parliamentary seats for women.

These reserved seats do not represent geographical constituencies; rather, new women MPs are selected by the elected MPs, with a proportionate distribution of the new seats among the parties represented in the House. This law is valid for 10 years. The introduction of the Bill was contested by several women's groups who campaigned for these seats to be directly elected and for the number of reserved seats to be increased. There are no reserved seats specifically for women from ethnic minorities.

Overall, we do not see strong lessons from the experience in Bangladesh that could successfully be applied to improve the participation of ethnic minority women in public life within the UK.