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Profile: Salma Khan

Posted on 26/04/2013
By Martin Petts

Salma Khan, Chairperson, NGO Coalition for Beijing Platform for Action, Former Chairperson, UN CEDAW

Ms. Salma Khan, a women’s rights activist at home and human rights practitioner at the international level is the immediate past President of Women For Women: A Research and Study Group- and executive board member She is the founder Chairperson of NGO Coalition on Beijing Process (NCBP), a network of 624 NGOs working towards implementation of Beijing Platform for Action. She was elected a Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1992 and served three terms in the CEDAW Committee (2003-2006).  She was the first Asian to be elected the Chairperson of CEDAW (1997 & 1998). Having worked in the CEDAW Committee for over twelve years, she left her mark in the UN human rights system.

She obtained her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Economics from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and also a Post-Graduate Degree in Development Economics from the University of Chicago, USA as a Fulbright scholar.  Later she obtained Diploma in Public Service Management & Training from the University of Connecticut, USA and specialized in Gender Planning from London University, UK. Ms. Salma Khan is the recipient of Fulbright Scholarship, US AID Scholarship, British Council Scholarship and prestigious Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship of USA.

Ms. Khan has been involved in public office as a key decision-maker in the area of Women in Development for over 19 years.  She has to her credit initiation of Women’s Wing in the National Planning Commission and mainstreaming gender issues in the macro framework of Five Year Development Plans of Bangladesh. As Division Chief of Macro Economic Division, Planning Commission and also later as the Director General of Bangladesh Institute of Management, she was one of the senior most woman civil servant.  Prior to joining to the Planning Commission she taught economics at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh where she was also the head of the Department of Economics. She served as Bangladesh Ambassador to Indonesia from 2006-2008.

She was awarded gold medal by Asiatic Society in 1990 for her research and publication in the areas of women in development, Annanya Top Ten Award as best woman administrator in 1997 and Rotary International Jean Harris Award for Outstanding Service to The Development and Progress of Women in Society in 1999. She was awarded ASEAN Development Citra  Award, Indonesia, 2007-2008 for contribution to promote better understanding between ASEAN and South Asian Countries. She is the receipiant of Rapport Bangladesh Award for Excellence in Human resource Development 2010

A feminist and researcher, her research interests include labour rights of female workers, violence against women and mainstreaming gender in economic policy. She has authored and edited eight books and published numerous articles in national and international journals on CEDAW, economic development and legal rights of women. She has written extensively on CEDAW as an effective human rights mechanism and played important role in developing human rights for women as the convener of the group of CEDAW experts drafting General Recommendation 26 on women migrant workers.  She is a column writer on women’s issue in the Daily Prothom Alo news paper.

Ms. Khan was a member of the National Council on Women and Development, member of the National Education Commission 2006. SHe is founder of CEDAW Forum – an action and lobby group for full implementation of the Women’s Convention and she is a member of the Grameen Trust, which is involved in replication of Grameen Bank micro credit programs at international level and Human Development Foundation, Bangladesh.