Bangladesh’s Remarkable Journey Towards Women Empowerment: A Beacon of Hope for the World

Women empowerment is not just a catchphrase; it is an essential ingredient for sustainable development and societal progress. In Bangladesh, the government’s unwavering commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment has yielded remarkable results. Over the past decade, Bangladesh has emerged as a role model for women’s empowerment, with significant strides made in closing the gender gap and fostering inclusive development.

Women’s economic participation in Bangladesh has witnessed a significant surge in the past decade. With half of the population being women, their active involvement in various sectors has led to enhanced economic growth and prosperity. The government’s increased allocation for women’s development in national budgets has played a vital role in creating job opportunities, ensuring higher education, and increasing the capacity of women leaders. Women in Bangladesh have made their mark in diverse fields, including business, engineering, media, aviation, sports, and handicrafts. However, there is still a need to address the gender disparity in higher education to enable women to reach their full potential.

Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accepts another international award for role in empowering women in Bangladesh, the Global Women’s Leadership Award the Global Summit of Women in Sydney

When we talk about Bangladesh’s development journey, the role that women have played in propping up the economy is inevitably a part of the conversation. Whether it is as RMG workers, small entrepreneurs or migrant workers, we routinely cite how women’s participation in the labour force has not only been beneficial for their economic empowerment, but for the nation as a whole. This is especially true in terms of the RMG industry, where around 60 percent of the workforce are women.

e past 20 years, Bangladesh has made incredible strides toward improving the lives of women and girls. Since 2000, the rate of maternal death has dropped by more than two-thirds and is still dropping.  There is increased gender parity in school enrolment, and the fertility rate is dropping. In Bangladesh, laws safeguarding women’s rights and privileges have advanced, and as more women enroll in school, advancements in women’s labor force participation are growing. However, this workforce participation is still restricted to a small number of low-wage industries. The profitable ready-made clothing business, Bangladesh’s largest export sector, employs three million women. Even though more women are working in small and medium-sized businesses, there are still significant financial barriers that women must overcome.

Education Grant for Underprivileged Girls: A Beacon of Hope

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Bangladeshi government has implemented numerous programs to empower women and promote gender equality. These initiatives encompass education, health, political representation, entrepreneurship, and legal reforms. Quotas for women in government jobs, vocational training, women-only industrial parks, and political empowerment have been instrumental in fostering women’s participation in decision-making processes. The government’s emphasis on women’s entrepreneurship, legal protections, and digital training programs has further facilitated their economic and social progress.

For instance, the government has launched  several programs to encourage more women to enroll in college. Examples include building institutions and universities exclusively for women, giving financial aid to females in elementary and secondary schools, and raising the compensation of female instructors. In elementary and secondary schools, gender parity has been achieved, and the proportion of girls enrolled in these programs of study has increased significantly.

Among the government’s initiatives to improve women’s health are free maternity care, free access to contraception, and a stronger emphasis on the importance of family planning. To encourage women to enter the workforce, the government has developed women-only industrial parks, offered vocational training, and implemented female employment quotas in government positions. The administration has supported women’s political engagement by providing them a stronger voice in politics, awarding them one-third of the seats in local government bodies, and increasing female representation in the national legislature.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Vision for Empowering Women

In order to encourage women’s entrepreneurship, the government has taken a number of actions, including establishing a Women Entrepreneurs Fund, growing small and medium-sized female-owned businesses, and providing financing and training to female entrepreneurs. Making sexual harassment, domestic violence, and acid attacks illegal is only one of the legislative changes the government has enacted to protect women’s rights.

While significant progress has been made, challenges such as gender-based violence, child marriage, and limited access to healthcare still persist. It is crucial for the government and civil society organizations to collaborate further in addressing these issues and ensuring women’s equality. Nevertheless, Bangladesh’s efforts have garnered praise and recognition both at home and abroad. British ministers, MPs, and members of the UK Parliament have commended Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for championing women’s empowerment and gender equality. Bangladesh’s extraordinary journey towards gender parity, especially in workplaces and schools, has received accolades. The international community acknowledges the significant strides made in empowering Bangladeshi women and supports the country’s ongoing efforts.

Redefining Women’s empowerment in Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s commitment to women’s empowerment aligns with its Vision 2041, a roadmap for becoming a developed nation. By harnessing the full potential of women, Bangladesh aims to create a more just and equitable society where women have equal legal protections and economic opportunities. Women’s empowerment plays a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. Bangladesh’s progress in empowering women directly contributes to SDG 5: Gender Equality and indirectly impacts other goals such as poverty eradication (SDG 1), quality education (SDG 4), good health and well-being (SDG 3), and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11). By prioritizing women’s empowerment, Bangladesh is positioning itself as a global leader in sustainable development.

Through the inception of grassroots level transformations for advancing women’s economic empowerment during the past fifty years, targeted efforts by the government and nongovernmental actors have played crucial roles in generating the initial condition state at the micro-level. Without a doubt, these initiatives have established the fundamental foundations for creating the vital connections between the micro and macro levels that can prompt rapid changes in economy-wide and sector-specific gender barriers and ready the macroeconomy to effectively respond to these micro-signals for women’s economic empowerment. The innovative neo-classical development model used in Bangladesh, which has resulted in significant socioeconomic changes over the past fifty years, is characterized by these micro-macro transmissions and interactions, which are also essential for ensuring women’s rapid economic empowerment in the years to come.

Bangladesh Women registered their maiden ODI win against India at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium

In order to uncover systemic and gender-induced constraints and challenges that prevent women from economically empowering themselves, it is, therefore, necessary to investigate the dynamics of micro-macro interactions of women’s economic empowerment interventions in Bangladesh. In order to better design future interventions and enable their scaling up to cover more women and in more places, we should move toward a country-specific model capable of revealing and quantifying the causal relationships of women’s economic empowerment and the country’s economic outcomes in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s journey towards women’s empowerment is a shining example for the world. The government’s multifaceted initiatives, coupled with the unwavering commitment of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, have resulted in remarkable progress. Women’s economic participation, access to education and healthcare, political empowerment, and legal reforms have transformed the landscape of gender equality in Bangladesh. However, challenges still remain, requiring continued efforts from the government and civil society. The vision of a just and equitable society, as envisioned in Vision 2041, and the achievement of the SDG targets heavily rely on women’s empowerment. Bangladesh’s success in this realm is not only transforming the lives of its women but also inspiring nations around the world to prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment as essential components of sustainable development.

 

Written by-

Lutfun Nahar Taposhi
Creative Editor, Diplomats World Publication

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *