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Women in Bangladesh lack so­cial sta­tus and even en­cour­age­ment for their work in agri­cul­ture and busi­ness. Where are they headed?

Southasia - - REFORM BANGLADESH - By Nida Mu­jahid

It is es­sen­tial for a so­ci­ety that as­pires to be pro­gres­sive to main­tain the pre­car­i­ous bal­ance of gen­der in­volve­ment as women can play the role of change-mak­ers and give shape to an en­tire sce­nario. In such a so­ci­ety, what is re­quired of women is per­se­ver­ance in the face of dis­crim­i­na­tion, poverty, in­tol­er­ance and ad­ver­sity.

The women of Bangladesh pro­vide an in­ter­est­ing study in how marginal­ized and sup­pressed fac­tions strive to move for­ward with hard work and a touch of luck.

Cul­tural prac­tices and norms of­ten bar women from ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in cer­tain fields or from tak­ing roads less trav­eled. How­ever, Bangladeshi women have crossed many a thresh­old, in­clud­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­i­tics and have been ac­tive in the po­lit­i­cal arena, es­pe­cially since the 1990s. But there are still many ar­eas where the con­di­tion and per­for­mance of women is far from sat­is­fac­tory.

The Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals re­it­er­ate the fun­da­men­tal need for women’s rights as far as ed­u­ca­tion and em­pow­er­ment is con­cerned. The Grameen Bank project led by No­bel Lau­re­ate Mo­ham­mad Younus pri­mar­ily fo­cuses on em­pow­er­ing women through mi­cro-credit.

The project un­der­stands the cen­tral role of women in rais­ing a fam­ily and in the al­le­vi­a­tion of poverty. There­fore, it projects the whole idea by fa­cil­i­tat­ing their so­cial sta­tus. It is a gen­eral per­cep­tion that women pre­fer small-scale busi­nesses be­cause those are easy to man­age. The other rea­son is cul­tural norms that re­strict women to low-in­come, low-pro­file jobs.

Bangladeshi women have al­ways been ac­tive in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor but since the land own­er­ship laws are tilted in fa­vor of men, women are com­pelled to trans­fer their rights to male fam­ily mem­bers to look af­ter their land. It is rare to find a woman who has full-fledged rights to her land hold­ings.

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