Experts want increased budgetary allocation for gender specific projects
Experts today urged the government to design development projects aiming at reducing the gender gap and ensuring women empowerment.
They also underscored the need for greater allocation for gender specific projects in the national budget.
They made the call at a virtual event titled "An Analysis of Gender Sensitive Budgeting: Bangladesh Perspective" jointly organised by the South Asian Network for Economic Model (SANEM) and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad.
Gender-sensitive budgeting can significantly contribute to ensuring gender equality in the country, said Bangladesh Mahila Parishad President Fauzia Moslem, who chaired the programme.
She expressed dissatisfaction over not publishing gender budget reports in the last two national budgets.
SANEM Executive Director Selim Raihan said the issues of women empowerment and rights are well-acknowledged in the policy documents like Eighth Five Year Plan or the national budget but it is not enough.
The most important thing is to see whether those commitments mentioned in the policy documents are properly implemented, he said.
SANEM Research Director Dr Sayema Haque in her key-note presentation focused on different aspects and key challenges of gender budgeting.
She said the country has attained some big positive achievements in ensuring gender equity in different sectors like gross enrolment in primary and secondary education but women are still lagging behind in the higher education and vocational and technical programmes as well as per capita mobile phone holding and internet use.
Mentioning that women's participation in the labour force has increased manifold but there are still some challenges, she referred to 2020 data of the World Bank that compared to male labour force participation of 80.3 per cent in the rural area, the female participation rate is only 38.6 per cent.
She also informed that 47 per cent of the country's women population of working age are not there in education, employment and training (NEET) compared to the rate of the male population at 10 per cent which is a matter of concern.
Gender budgeting can introduce gender sensitivity across all levels of policy implementation and thereby address the existing fault lines, she said.
She identified some key challenges to gender budgeting including lack of gendered disaggregated data of beneficiaries and impacts, discontinuation of certain important gender-specific projects.
Lawmaker Selima Ahmad, also president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said apart from increasing budgetary allocations it also needs to monitor proper implementation of the projects.
Most of the females in the rural areas are still facing problems like child marriage and drop out of higher education, she said.
Jahangirnagar University Economics Professor Sharmind Neelormi and BRAC Youth Platform Operations Lead Samanjar Chowdhury were panel discussants.