gender equality in bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the most impoverished countries in the world, but in terms of low gender gap political empowerment, it ranks eighth. How can this be? How can gender equality in Bangladesh be so high when the country is so impoverished?
One of the reasons is microfinance. Of the people who receive this type of assistance, 92 percent are women. This has led to Bangladeshi women’s empowerment as well as given them the opportunity to invest in their own children’s education. Microfinance has increased enrollment by 8 percent. The loan also gives women the ability to go out into the labor force, whereas otherwise they would be constrained to the home. Microfinance happens to be a somewhat controversial subject, but there are many studies that show how it has been successful in Bangladesh. Specifically, among women is has spurred a sense of empowerment and increased mobility.
Another reason for Bangladesh’s high gender equality is the rising number of girls in school. This is due to foreign aid, from UNICEF and various NGOs. Aid, in conjunction with a government program started in 1994, which gave incentives of 200 taka ($4 U.S.) a month for rural girls to go to school, helped Bangladesh achieved the Millennium Development goal of eliminating gender disparity in schools by 2005. Now, more than half of the pupils in Bangladesh are girls. Access to education empowers young girls by giving them options. They don’t have to get married as early and have the ability to explore possible career options.
There is also the ever increasing participation of women in politics. Since 1990, the number of women members of parliament (MPs) has increased from 10 percent to 20 percent today. Of the 350 parliament seats, 50 are reserved for women. This is compared to women in the 113th U.S. Congress, which has no quota system, and in which currently women make up only 18.5 percent. Bangladesh also has a woman Prime Minister, with the opposition leader being a woman as well. There are women in both the leadership roles as well as taking part in the legislation process. This alone can give young women and girls the idea that there is the possibility for their inclusion in the political sphere.
With all these positives in mind, it needs to be noted that Bangladesh has by no means reached complete gender parity, nor has it rid itself of many of its problems. It is still quite a poor country, with issues relating to corruption, economic inequality, climate change and political instability. In regards to women, there are still child marriages, female infanticide and issues with human rights at the many garment factories based in Bangladesh, of which many women work for. Even with the female prime minister, there is worry over whether she will try to move toward one party rule.
The conclusion that needs to be drawn here though, is that through intense poverty, a move towards gender equality can be achieved, and it is exemplified in Bangladesh. Hopefully, with continued support from foreign aid and, of course, the Bangladeshi people, they will keep going down this path and continue toward developing their country.