While people around the world are painting their town red for the “International Day of the Rural Women” on 15th October 2020, in Bangladesh, the rural women are lagging behind compared the world. Their contribution till date to the country’s overall growth is an undeniable reality, but as the world is moving forward with its invention in the field of science and technology, the day is not far away when the rural women of Bangladesh may remain as nothing more but a burden to our nation. Our only way of overcoming this aforesaid doom is through ensuring rural women as empower human being.
In Bangladesh, half of the population consists of women and around 86% of them lives in the rural areas. Among the 20 million working women, 15 million work from the rural parts and they spend around 53% time of their day working in the field of agriculture and doing craftwork, whereas, men spend around 47% of their daily time. Still after all their efforts, women are unappreciated and unrecognized, in some cases not even paid what their labor is actually worth. The primary reason for this can be identified as the lack of education and women empowerment status of our country.
Though industrialization and digitalization has become little but a blessing for the urban women in our country, but the burning question should be if the rural women are also reaping the benefits of these facilities. Even after taking a number of initiatives by the Government to promote education, families are reluctant in sending their female children to school in the rural areas; instead, they are set to learn household chores. This only leads to ignorance and reduces the chance of being self dependent. Women’s contribution to our total GDP is recognized as around 30%, but if their everyday household work is estimated properly, their total contribution to our GDP will raise and go as much as up to 48%. In this regard if a woman’s household work is recognized nationally, it can contribute to reducing the discrimination and abuse significantly.
In the long traditional way of agriculture of Bangladesh, women have been and still are contributing greatly. Even if technology has been introduced to the agricultural sector a while back, not many of the women know how to use them, also lacking the enthusiasm to learn. They naively depend on their male counterparts for the technical help and mainly try to contribute through their physical labor. Women are empowered in the agricultural sector when they can manage resources and make decisions about food production and income. In other words, access to resources and decision making is of key importance for overall development of the rural women.
It is not unattainable to turn these largely unemployed, unskilled and poor rural women into a weapon for improving our economic growth. Government has developed institutes such as, A2I and Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) for increasing digital literacy, Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), Directorate for Women’s Affairs (DWA), Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB) etc to support the rural women of Bangladesh. Proper health care, education and training as well as adequate digital knowledge can change not only this unprivileged group, but also can take steps into a new tomorrow.
Writer: Razia Sultana, Business Development Officer, Eminence Associates for Social Development