At 36 percent, Bangladesh has fared better than most South Asian countries in terms of women's participation in the workforce and the World Bank has rightly hailed the country as a model to emphasise the need for investing more on women.
However, women's contribution to economic activities sans agriculture and the garment industry, still remains far below their potential, according to the international financial institution.
Women workers face harder obstacles, from balancing work and family to accessing financing, partly due to deeply ingrained gender bias, discriminatory laws and a lack of collateral. There is still a large wage gap. Women constitute a large percentage of the country's poor and hungry.
Ample research shows that investing in women will bring benefits to our collective future, leading to stronger local economies as women save more than men and a higher savings rate translates into a higher tax base. Several studies also show that women spend more of their earnings on food, healthcare, home improvement and schooling for children, thus bringing about wellbeing of society in general.
Financial institutions must do a better job of banking on women's potential. More training institutions should be established to provide them with the necessary skills to equip them with the capacity and the confidence to see their innovative ideas through. Workplaces need to be more gender sensitive.
The country has taken a giant leap towards becoming a middle income country and as per the World Bank requirement, we have to attain a GDP growth of 7.5 percent. We are not going to get there unless barriers preventing women from participating in the workforce are removed.