Bangladesh has shown tremendous advancement throughout the last decade in empowering women and brought enormous changes in traditional and conservative male dominated society. The recent visible changes in women’s increasing active participation in all sectors throughout the country testify the government commitment and to people’s aspiration to a more equitable society.
The term, Women’s empowerment, refers to the ability of women to achieve their rights and well-being while also reducing household poverty, increasing productivity, efficiency and economic growth. It is also the reflection of gender equality which is the precursor to moving the country forward, towards middle income status and sustainable development.
Few years back, it was hardly believable that the women of Bangladesh will take part in the economic development of the country. Today, they are taking charges of the houses as well as performing the ultimate leadership of the changes and development of the country. The country’s achievements in the past decade have been exemplary in many sectors such as in reducing infant and child mortality, poverty alleviation, increase in women entrepreneurship, education, and health.
Today more than four and a half million females are working in the garments industries alone. The number of women entrepreneurs both in the cities and rural areas are growing. Apart from these, women are also largely contributing in education, politics, social development, administration, transportation, civil aviation, police and armed forces.
The biggest contribution of women is in the country’s booming garment sector which has been placed as the largest export earner of Bangladesh where more than 5000 garment factories are running, employing over four million people of which more than 80% workers are women.
In education and working sectors, Bangladesh has made great progress in girls’ education. The proportion of girls enrolled in primary school increased from 51 per cent in 1991 to 94 per cent in 2007. The current government of Bangladesh encourages more female primary school teachers and offers free scholarship for female students so that they can continue their study.
The current government has been working relentlessly for ensuring women’s overall development by affording them equal and active participation in the mainstream socio-economic activities and removing the various impediments to their empowerment.
This year, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was honored with the Global Women’s Leadership Award for her outstanding leadership for the advancement in women’s education and women entrepreneurship in Bangladesh and in the Asia Pacific region.
“We have to forge a new alliance to support the women and uphold their rights. Together, we must act on our shared culture, tradition and values to benefit millions of women in need,” she said while receiving the Global Women’s Leadership Award at the Global Summit of Women 2018 in Australia.
Bangladesh considers women’s participation as a vital issue in the path of women’s empowerment as one of the main drivers of transforming the country’s status from low-income to middle-income one. For achieving the goal of women’s development, Bangladesh Government has approved the highest allocation in history for the sector in the budget for 2018-19 fiscal year.
“Nothing is more important for development today than the economic, political and social participation of women”, said Nobel Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen which matches the current situation of Bangladesh. If performance in the recent past is any indicator, then it is safe to be optimistic that Bangladesh would also be able to achieve the post-2015 goals for women’s empowerment.
>Shatabdi Sarker Poushi