Bangladesh is a densely populated country where 170 million people are huddling and struggling for a better future. Half of these populations are women and their economic participation has increased significantly in the last ten years. There was a time when women and girls of Bangladesh were disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. They were not allowed to make decisions about their household income. So, half of the population couldn’t contribute to economic development.
Today more than four and a half million women are working in the garments industries. Now, women are joining in the fields of risky and challenging professions like defense, police, pilot, drivers of the train, bus, taxi, building construction, brickfields and also in fire services. They are also participating in every sport such as swimming, tennis, cricket, football, basketball, shooting, kabaddi, etc. Many women entrepreneurs both in the cities and rural areas are doing extremely well. The number of female personnel in education, politics, business, social development, agriculture, fisheries, and other fields has significantly been increased.
It was hardly believable in fifty years back that the women are working outdoors. Nowadays women are the leaders of the houses as well as taking caring of their families with love and affection. Now, many of the women in Bangladesh have control over their lives. More importantly, they are playing an influential role in society as decision-makers.
Bangladesh has made progress in leaps and bounds in closing the gender gap over the last decades, according to the World Economic Forum. Solidarity of women is important in strengthening their voice in demanding their rights and services. Mobilization of rural women by NGOs in villages to get services and use of women community level workers to provide door to door services in health and family planning are playing an inevitable role in improving infant, child, and maternal health. Many NGOs are working relentlessly to improve the women’s position in Bangladesh, specifically ADRA Bangladesh works on variables like participatory decision making, awareness building, capacity building, and increasing economic solvency to contribute to women empowerment in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is improving in the area of women empowerment but to ensure sustainability, more concentration should be given in skill development, higher education, technology-based education, and capacity building.
ADRA is strengthening the social and economic status of the woman. More than 7,000 women are being empowered through micro-finance support, training and enhanced income. They are taught how to read, develop practical skills such as sewing and cooking and receive health education. Women become more independent, successful and active in civil society. This agency has children projects in three different districts: Mymensingh, Dhaka, and Gazipur. Projects like; Chalantika Slum Children Development (CSCDP), Tongi Children Education Program (TCEP), Children Service Project (CSP), Social Integration for Street Children Development Project (SISCDP). Through learning and skills development, children develop a sense of dignity and self-worth. The parents are constantly involved in developing their children, receive the awareness of child rights and social issues and are encouraged to discover their vocational skills. The project teaches mothers basic literacy classes and builds multiple capacities in different areas.
Overall, the government and the NGO’s are working relentlessly to encourage the development of women. But, women empowerment can only be achieved when we include men and boys. Men are often those who define and keep women within their boundaries. When men engage with women, they realize that their wives ' empowerment benefits the whole family. Promoting gender equality and empowering women is the key to lifting entire families out of poverty. ADRA Bangladesh is focused on women’s development with the participation of men.