Women Empowerment and Governance in Bangladesh

Syed Muhammad Sajjad Kabir, Md. Abdul Aziz, A. K. M. Shadika Jahan Shathi
  • Antyajaa Indian Journal of Women and Social Change, June 2018, SAGE Publishing
  • DOI: 10.1177/2455632718778376

Women Empowerment and Governance

What is it about?

This article is based on a research undertaken to promote and facilitate linkages between gender, poverty reduction and good governance at the local level. The 569 unions under study were included from Dhaka, Barisal, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, and Sylhet divisions. The research focused on analysis by combining feminist research techniques such as participant field observation, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and case studies of women’s life history. The findings showed that most of the women were under the control of their husbands, and they were mere proxies. Women’s voices in governance were not so far heard due to their under-representation and non-participation in institutional structures of decision-making. In governance, women still had limited and insufficient access to resources, public debate, and political decision-making processes.

Why is it important?

The main objective of the research was to promote and facilitate linkages between gender, poverty reduction and good governance at the local level. The specific objectives of the study were 1. to analyze the perception of the women members in understanding their roles and responsibilities in the UP; 2. to assess the capacity of the grassroots-level women leaders in local government to perform their roles and functions more effectively; 3. to identify the functions of the members in relation to project formulation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation; 4. to analyze the political experiences of the women members in the UP in exercising leadership capacity and offering new insights into governance in the community; 5. to examine how women members could make or have made the impact on policies and political processes at the grassroots level; 6. to assess the capacity of the women leaders to influence and then to have access to resources and services required for the social development of their communities; 7. to assess the attitude of the male members towards the women members; 8. to identify the particular constraints and challenges faced by these members in performing their duties and 9. to evaluate the training programmes of the different NGOs and women’s organizations in increasing/enhancing the capacity of the women members and developing their leadership skills.

Perspectives

Syed Muhammad Sajjad Kabir (Author)
Jagannath University

The presence and the participation of women in governance is a new phenomenon contextually and it has gained significance as they are new to the job and they function as the representatives of the people against the backdrop of patriarchy. The newly elected women at the local government level have come to the institutions with different barriers and obstacles. Women’s voices in governance were not so far heard due to their under-representation and non-participation in institutional structures for decision-making. Some women have already begun to make their mark by their performance at the local level. The political space provided for women can be considered an opportunity for expressing their opinion and raising their voice on the issues of development. The space provided for these women in the process of local governance has added value to their voices which were suppressed earlier in the system of indirect election of these members. No society can be developed if one-half of its population (women) remains voiceless, invisible and undervalued. The exercise of political authority to a large extent influences decisions and the political participation of women occupies a prominent position in governance. Good governance is crucial for achieving the goals of poverty reduction. Again, empowerment, equality, and equity are principal concepts in poverty reduction. The specific impact of poverty on women and the feminization of poverty is the result of inequalities embedded in norms, traditions, and practices that hinder women’s access to assets. It has become well established that women’s empowerment is fundamental to achieving poverty elimination (UN, 2010). Incorporating gender perspectives in poverty reduction and good governance not only facilitates an improvement in women’s situation and increased gender equality but also contributes to positive outcomes in achieving the goals of poverty reduction and good governance in third world countries like Bangladesh.

The following have contributed to this page: Syed Muhammad Sajjad Kabir