What We Need to Achieve Millennium Development Goals for Women in Bangladesh sign now

What We Need to Achieve Millennium Development Goals for Women in Bangladesh

According to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) progress report of government of Bangladesh and UNDP, Bangladesh is ON TRACK to achieving Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education and Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, and Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality. However, Bangladesh still FACES CHALLENGES to achieve Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health and Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.

In the MDG Progress Report 2008, the government of Bangladesh shows three indicators against
MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality & Empower Women:
1) Ratio of girls and boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education, 2) Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector, and
3) Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament.

Drop out rate of girls student: A barrier to achieve MDG 3 and 2:

No doubt Bangladesh is in on track to achieving the targets of gender parity in education except the tertiary one. But drop out rate of girl students is 27 which is two times higher than that of boy students. Without addressing the causes behind drop out of girls, achievement of MDG 3 (Promote Gender equality and Empowerment of women) and MDG 2 (Achieve Universal Primary education) will not deliver meaningful result.

Womens employment: Need proper recognition of women labourer in agricultural sector, ensuring labour rights and creating gender-friendly environment:

Selecting only non-agricultural sector as indicator of womens empowerment is highly partial and flawed. Because a large number of rural women are engaged in agricultural activities with subject of wage discrimination and non-recognition. Women earn about 35-40 percent less of what men do in the agricultural labor market; 81.5 percent of this difference is unexplained and could be due to labor market discrimination.

Womens employment rates have doubled in Bangladesh since 1995 but they are still extremely low at 26 percent. The growth in womens employment is led by readymade garments (RMG) industries, health and community service sector and self-employment created by micro credit. RMG is the largest non-agricultural sector for employment of women where women labourers are paid less than the recognized minimum wage.

Sexual harassment of women in workplace is another barrier to womens employment.

Yearly Death of 20,000 Women during Child Birth: Achieving MDG 5 is in challenge:

Despite significant progress in some targets, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Bangladesh is still one of the highest in the world (351/100,000 in 2007). It means each year around 20,000 women are simply dying during giving birth. An estimated 600,000 suffer gynecological complications every year. Available statistics (UNICEF, WHO, BHW and BBS) show that in Bangladesh, skilled birth attendants attend only 18\% of birth, 80 death occur at attempted home delivery, 69\% of poor households do not have access to any ante-natal care.

Though MMR has declined to 351 from 570 in 1990, the current pace of decreased rate does not show hope for attaining the MDG target of 144 in 2015. If we could not pay extra attention and care in terms of mainly sufficient budgetary allocation for healthcare, particularly for safe motherhood, MMR would remain above 310 in 2015.

Gender parity in school enrollment and employment is not enough for gender equality:

Women are poorer then their men counterpart in terms of possession of properties and economic resources. They are also denied from entrepreneurship which is a major barrier to achieving gender equity. Gender discrimination in inheritance law is the major cause behind it which also affect on the overall status of women. Without reforming inheritance law, affirmative actions would not be sufficient for achieving gender equity. How we dare to achieve MDG 1 by leaving half of the populace under the poverty line?


1. Proper measure to improve maternal health through reactivating the community clinic programme with adequate physicians and health workers

2. Prevention of early marriage and early child bearing

3. Improvement of family planning services

4. Presence of skilled birth attendant during home delivery

5. Elimination of disparity of health services between rich and poor and between urban & rural areas

6. Assurance of access to health services in hard to reach areas

7. Proper measures to reduce drop out rate of girls students from school

8. Secured and gender-friendly environment in educational institutions and workplace

9. Recognition of women labourer with abolishing wage discrimination in agricultural and other informal sectors

10. Increase of minimum wage in RMG sector

11. Reform of discriminatory laws against women, particularly the inheritance law as pledged by Bangladesh Awami League in its election manifesto.

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