Vote Politics to Empower Women in Business: Analysts

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According to analysts, the government should pay special attention in devising measures to increase the economic contribution of women to help the country achieve its goal of becoming a developed nation.

“Bangladesh has done impressively in terms of socio-economic development, but many challenges remain when it comes to empowering women,” said Sayema ​​Haque Bidisha, research director for the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem).

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One area that deserves attention is, for example, the participation of women in the labor force, she added.

These comments came yesterday in a webinar jointly organized by the Sanem and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF).

Women who spend most of their time in unpaid caring work deserve credit, but greater involvement in formal work and the implementation of the country’s sustainable development goals is needed.

This is because Bangladesh is currently going through a demographic dividend window where half the population does unpaid care work for up to six hours a day.

“This hinders their economic opportunities,” said Bidisha, stressing the need to recognize the values ​​of female labor force participation.

“It is more important to recognize and reduce a woman’s unpaid caregiving work than to attribute monetary value to it,” she added.

Women would earn around 2.5 to three times their current income if there was an emphasis on unpaid care work, said Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD).

Even though most university professors are female, they tend to drop out of careers due to increasing household chores.

Therefore, only a few women can be seen in management positions, she added.

However, the government is taking strategic steps to address these issues, said Minister of Planning MA Mannan.

Many initiatives, such as engaging at least three women at the union level or one vice-chairman at the Upazila level, and reserving 60 percent of primary school employment for women, have already been taken.

“I am always with you personally and officially to ensure women’s participation in the economy,” he added.

Shaheen Anam, executive director of the MJF, said focusing on the care industry would ease the burden on women and ultimately ensure their participation in paid work.

Proper political interventions to this end would also have a positive impact on Bangladesh’s gross domestic product.

“So recognizing unpaid care work will ensure equality for women and reduce violence against them,” she added.

Sheikh Muslima Moon, additional director of the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, stressed the need to change people’s attitudes in this regard.

This means that men should do more housework to ease the burden on women so that they can also have time for formal work.

Md Saiful Islam, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Social Affairs, spoke about various ongoing government projects to facilitate women’s participation in the labor market.

Islam also assured that the involvement of young women in unpaid care work would be an issue in future policy documents.

During her talk, Bidisha von Sanem showed that a woman’s chances of participating in the labor market decreased by 2.4 percent if children under five lived at home.

Bidisha, also an economics professor at Dhaka University, recommended that the government offer training programs for women and encourage the private sector to employ more of them through tax policies such as tax rebates and cash transfer subsidies.

Likewise, providing daycare through social protection programs could go a long way in this regard, she said.

Banasree Mitra, MJF Gender Advisor, and Selim Raihan, General Manager of Sanem, also spoke at the event.


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