Ensuring that women have real voice in all governance institutions is essential to achieve the SDG goals, was the realisation by participants of a ‘Gender and Development’ training in Dhaka.

Held on 18 November 2018 at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre, the training was organised by the Economic Relations Division with support from UNDP’s Knowledge for Development Management Project.

“Equal participation of women with men in public dialogues and decision-making process is necessary so they can influence the decisions that will determine the future of their families and country,” said Deputy National Project Director and the Joint Secretary of ERD, Mohammad Nazim Uddin in his welcome note.

“Bangladesh’s women have made progress in various aspects of health, education, and work, but still face sizable gender gaps. Gender biasness at the workplace is been a widely concerned matter in the whole world, especially in Bangladesh for years,” he added.

“Women face more hurdles than their male counterparts in every stage of their work life and have to work more to survive,” ERD Secretary Monowar Ahmed, also the chief guest of the programme, pointed out. “The government of Bangladesh has also prioritised gender quality in its seventh Five Year Plan.”

“Our vision is a country where men and women will have equal opportunities and rights and women will be recognised as equal contributors in economic, social, and political development,” he added.

The day-long training started through participatory introduction, understanding of the concept followed by listing individual expectations from all participants. The findings were analysed and the session plans were tailored accordingly.

After a day of discussions, debates and group works, the participants found that although Bangladesh has the eighth lowest gender gap in political empowerment in the world, overall women have made little gains in economic wellbeing.

Although awareness levels are increasing, appreciation of the economic and social values of women’s role in a country’s development still falls far short of what is due. The same stands for differences in sex roles and circumstances which are still large despite extraordinary transformations in gender roles and relationships.

Cultural and traditional factors still heavily influence how women are treated and regarded in Bangladesh.  However, the society is moving away from the traditional view that women are an economic liability and that sons are more desirable than daughters and studies show that the growing independence of women is one of the major causes of a decline in the “missing women” phenomenon or gender-based infanticide in Bangladesh.

Even then, women in Bangladesh seldom have the options for participation in economically productive jobs or higher positions in civil service appointments due to different factors.

"It is not possible for a country to gain faster and expected development while almost half of its population left behind. So, it is high time to take proper steps,” Marina Shawkat Ali, Project Officer of UNDP’s Responsive Justice IP said. 

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