Bangladesh Women Power Economic Surge

The women of Bangladesh are a force to be recokoned with given they now represent a majority of the workers in the garment industry. The female workers are known for their hard work and efficiency and add in the millions of village women, many illiterate, who are developing businesses. Rasheda Choudhury, adviser to the Minstry of Women and Children, describes a “silent revolution” in which women now constitute a major source of labor and are generating an economic upsurge. However, according to the Gener Equality Index compiled by Social watch, equality between women and men during the period 2004-2007 fell faster in Bangladesh than in almost any other nation in the world.

It is e stimated Asian women wages are 40% to 60% less than men doing the same job. However, in an interesting twist in Bangladesh, education for women is now free until grade 12 although it is only free for boys through elementary school. POlicies favoring women are not new in Bangladesh since the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League are boh led by women. Choudhury hopes changes in education will translate over the coming years in women playing a more important role in higher levels of the economic sector.

Choudhury points out about a decade ago, demands for an increased role for women in politics resulted in 13,000 seats being set aside at lower government levels and the nation was amazed when 39,000 women applied for the positions. However, she expressed disappointment demands for one-third seats in Parliament being reserved for women have not borne results.