Female upazila vice-chairpersons have claimed that they are neglected and underestimated in their positions, and in most cases, they are unaware of their responsibilities, as the chairpersons and UNOs never clearly inform them about their roles.
They also claimed that they do not get any workforce, logistical support or training for their work, which is why they fail to implement the promises they make to the people during the election.
They have no role in decision-making regarding project implementations, even though they are elected with more votes than their male counterparts.
Female upazila vice-chairpersons made the comments yesterday at a views-exchange meeting, titled "Effective participation of women in decision-making processes: Women's political empowerment and the role of women vice-chairpersons", organised by Bangladesh Mahila Parishad at its Begum Munira Khan Auditorium in Segunbagicha.
Lawmaker Shirin Akhtar, who was a special guest at the meeting, said although women are seen to always struggle, only men are seen to be in control of power.
"If the state wants to ensure democratic rights, it must first ensure them at the upazila level," she said,
"The issue centring the agency of female vice-chairs must be addressed," she added.
Lawmaker Selima Ahmed said the central government authorities should allocate and distribute responsibilities of the female vice-chairs.
"We want women representatives to be in a respectable position. They are no less than MPs," she said.
Prof Naseem Akhtar Hussain of Jahangirnagar University said a long struggle is needed to ensure participation and representation of women in politics.
"The roles and responsibilities of female vice-chairs must be in the upazila parishad manuals and notices. Resources in the upazila office should be ensured for women as well," said Naseem.
"Female vice-chairs should be given the responsibility of monitoring the work and decisions of 17 standing committees," he added.
Mahila Parishad President Fauzia Moslem said women come into politics for the welfare of people.
"Women should know how the local government can work better and create effective impacts," she added.
Suraiya Salam, the former upazila vice-chair of Madhukhali and member of the central committee of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, said the disparity in resource allocation for men and women should be eliminated.
"Women's participation in the union parishad elections has declined because election expenses are too expensive for female candidates," she said.
LGRD State Minister Swapan Bhattacharjee, BMP General Secretary Maleka Banu and Secretary Rabeya Khatun Shanti, Shibpur vice-chairperson Tapasi Rabeya, Kapasia vice-chairperson Rowshan Ara Begum, and Pangsha vice-chairperson Rokeya Begum spoke at the event, moderated by Jona Goswami, BMP director of advocacy and lobbying.