Gender Equity Index on Bangladesh | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 08, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 08, 2012


Gender Equity Index on Bangladesh

We must exercise cautious satisfaction

Bangladesh has scored higher than India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in terms of gender equity, according to the Gender Equity Index (GEI) 2012 released by Social Watch, a Manila-based civil society network.
The report evokes mixed feelings. While taking pride in the fact that the country has secured a good position among South Asian countries with 55 points, we must keep in mind the better examples, where countries which have done well, such as Norway, Finland and Iceland, have scored in the high eighties. More importantly, how do the said points translate into reality for women and men in Bangladesh? The index measures the gaps between women and men in the areas of education, economic and political empowerment.
Women in our country have advanced in all three fields -- more girls go to school; women contribute greatly to the economy, especially through the garment industry and remittance from migrant workers; and politically, too, there are more women on the scene, in the Cabinet, in Parliament, and, perhaps even more so in terms of grassroots political and social activism. However, discrimination continues to exist in all these fields, with more girls dropping out of school to fulfil household duties or get married, unequal wages and facilities at work and sometimes ornamental or insignificant participation of women in politics. Moreover, violence against women continues unabated and the law of the land itself, such as citizenship laws and especially personal or family laws, are heavily biased against women.
The Women Development Policy, which could have addressed some of these issues, is yet to be passed, 15 years into its initial drafting. Bangladeshi women have seen progress and success in the last few decades, but there is still a long way to go before true gender equality is established, and this International Women's Day, the GEI is a timely reminder of that.

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