Women’s Progress in Bangladesh

by S. Kjær

In one of the poorest countries and the eighth largest country, measured by population, in the world women tend to work and educate their way out of poverty. Women hold 19.7 percent of the seats in the Bangladeshi Parliament. In the British House of Commons the percentage is 22.3.

Bangladesh gained their independence in 1971 from Pakistan after a rather bloody civil war. According to Bangladeshi sources, 200.000 women were raped and approximately 3 million people were killed. The result of the war was Bangladesh’s independence and a lot of widowed women.

A development project carried out by the local government helped roughly 24.400 women to get jobs etc. The UN and the European Union financed the project. These improvements for women in Bangladesh have led to expanded access to health care and education. Single mothers can now afford to send their children to school.

The expansion of educational possibilities has contributed to a decrease in births by teenage mothers. In the year of 2000 130.5 per 1,000 gave birth in their teen years. In 2010 the number dropped to 78.9 per 1,000. In India the number is 86.3 per 1,000.

Bangladesh is primarily Muslim and compared to many other Muslim countries Bangladesh is in a leading position when it comes to implementing women in the workforce and in the universities. Exceptionally in a Muslim country the Prime Minister is a she. Sheikh Hasina (PM) is a role model for this female development where the Bangladeshi government even established an all-women university.

Photo by Ahron de Leeuw

Photo source: flickr