Dhaka, 13 December, 2020: Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) today honoured 10 Heroes of the Pandemic, who came forward voluntarily in providing food, cash livelihood and health support, stood up against stigmatization of certain groups, or stopped/prevented child marriages including violence against women and girls.
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2020, which was observed globally on 10th December, MJF organized a webinar titled ‘Recognising Heroes of Pandemic’ and honoured 10 heroes who had silently worked without any concern for recognition or rewards to help vulnerable people fight the pandemic.
The webinar was moderated by MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam and Chaired by Dr. Mizanur Rahman, former Chair, National Human Rights Commission and Member, Governing Board, MJF. The Chief Guest of the event was Dr. Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
In her welcome address, MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said: Today we are honoring those young men and women who risked their lives, spent from their meagre incomes and worked tirelessly to help others in distress. We pay our tribute to those hundreds and thousands of faceless, nameless people who, with no thought to getting recognition or reward continued to volunteer only for sake of humanity.”
Appreciating MJF’s timely initiative for honoring these incredible people caring for those in need during COVID-19, Chief Guest of webinar Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Advisor to the Prime Minister for International Affairs said: “as so long as we as human beings have empathy and sympathy for others, everything is possible. Stating that the government is actively considering passing the anti-discrimination Act, he also informed that a minorities commission will be formed soon. Dr. Rizvi also sought NGO’s full cooperation to review all discriminatory laws that are detrimental to the interest of women rights and empowerment.
The recipients of ‘Manusher Jonno Heroes of Pandemic Awards-2020’ are: Rina Akhter, Kazi Taif Sadat, Tahiyatul Jannat, Md. Saifur Rahman Shakil, Sandha Rani Roy, Md. Musa, Joyeeta Poly, Tasnuva Anan, Shotej Chakma and Babita Khatun.
Mr. Robert Chatterton Dickson, the British High Commissioner in Bangladesh said: “Congratulations to all those recognized at MJF’s event today. Human rights must ensure respect to everyone in society, including the most excluded and marginalized. These ten brave human rights defenders have done wonderful front line work to make this happen. Everyone in Bangladesh is better off as a result.”
Ms. Christine Johansson, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of Sweden, congratulated the heroes of pandemic. She observed that digitalization can be used as a vehicle for human rights and democracy promotion.
Congratulating change-makers recognized today, Ms. Phedra Moon Morris, Head of Aid, Canadian High Commission in Bangladesh urged all rich countries to come forward to address the inequalities in regards to access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Congratulating the recipients of the awards, Ms Henchoz Pignani Corinne, Deputy Head of Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland in Bangladesh said: “the Embassy of Switzerland to Bangladesh is delighted to be part of the MJF to celebrate 10 community level activists. As a staunch advocate of human rights and founder of the UN Human Rights Council, Switzerland knows how valuable and key the daily engagement of men and women on the ground for the advancement of a right based agenda for all. Human rights being it social, economic, cultural or civic are at the heart of Switzerland’s cooperation programme in Bangladesh.”
Chair of the Webinar Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Dr. Mizanur Rahman, former Chair, National Human Rights Commission and Member, Governing Board, MJF, said: “If pandemic has taught us any lesson that I think the first lesson is how fragile our healthcare system is.” Dr. Mizan observed that human development should be at the core of any development initiative to make development, a sustainable one.
During the second part of webinar, Dr. Debapriya Bhattachariya, Senior Fellow, CPD, gave a talk on “Addressing Social and Economic Rights in the Context of Covid 19. He hoped that the Government in the 8FYP would lay out a smooth and resilient recovery path from the impact of COVID-19, especially when Bangladesh is preparing to graduate from the LDC status.
MJF Partner NGOs from 55 locations of the country, members from various CSOs and NGOs, academics and human rights activists participated.