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Friday, March 14, 2008

Bangladesh has taken huge strides in women's progress: World Bank report

Gender and Social Transformation in Bangladesh

Several recent reports have highlighted the dramatic improvements in education - especially girls’ secondary education - in fertility, mortality, immunization, water and sanitation, rural roads and micro-credit. This is despite low per capita incomes. Countries with similar levels of per capita income have much worse outcomes and Bangladesh emerges as a positive outlier. We add to this list of paradoxes. One of these for instance, has to do with age at marriage. Low age at marriage in Bangladesh is lamented by demographers and while age at marriage is important in itself, in Bangladesh it is not a corollary of either fertility decline or female secondary education. Positive outcomes in fertility and education have occurred despite low age at marriage. We also identify a second though “negative” paradox – that despite increasing education and declining fertility, women’s labor force participation rates are low although they have doubled in the last 10 years.

“Women in Bangladesh have won important first round victories of visibility and mobility against great odds of gender-based inequalities and discrimination….
However, beyond these first-round victories of visibility and mobility lie old and new constraints and new areas of strategic challenge. Further progress has to contend, in particular, with entrenched patriarchal attitudes which seek to keep many social and political spaces off-limits to women, and to the insecurities of public spaces which effectively inhibit fuller engagement by women in the unfolding opportunities…. While women have made great strides in economic participation, per se, this has tended to be mainly at the lower end of the productivity scale. Determined action in this area will be central to a new road-map on accelerated poverty reduction. So will be an upfront engagement with the manifold sources of gender-based discriminations and inequalities.”

Read Complete report here:


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