News Media

Women still largely absent in decision-making processes

Dhaka Tribune

Published: April 8, 2014
Udisa Islam

Only four out of the 70 secretary position of the government are held by women. Out of the 290 additional secretaries, only 18 are women.

Post Number of Women
Secretary 4 out of 70
Additional Secretary 18 out of 290
Joint Secretary 38 out of 923
Assistant Secretaries 300 out of 1152

Development professionals and government officials have blamed the “typical mindset” of a patriarchal society for the slow pace at which women in Bangladesh are getting involved in decision-making processes at various levels.

Although the government has been trying to ensure the participation of women in various spheres of the state and it is said that Bangladesh can be a role model for even many developed countries in terms of empowering women, there is still nothing to be complacent about, activists have said.

According to the website of the public administration ministry, only four out of the 70 secretary position of the government are held by women. Out of the 290 additional secretaries, only 18 are women.

According to a report of the NGO Coalition on Beijing Process (NCBP), in 2004, out of 301 joint secretaries, only 13 were women. At present, 68 out of a total of 923 joint secretaries are women which mark only a 0.3% rise in a decade.

Professionals, who deal with development issues, have always said the country’s overall progress depended on the extent to which the government manages to ensure equality of employment between men and women.

In Bangladesh, although men and women constitute roughly equal proportions of the population, women are still far behind men in terms of participation in decision-making processes.

Over the last 10 years, the government had been trying to ensure greater participation by allocating quota for women in state recruitment. However, according to the Public Service Commission, the 10% quota for women in public service has hardly ever been filled up in recent years.

Seeking anonymity, a female government employee said it would become hard for a woman if she was posted to a remote area. “When the female employee expresses reluctance to go to the remote areas, the authorities say ‘women are not interested in doing their jobs.’ That is why participation of women has not been increasing,” she explained.

According to existing rules, government employees from most of the departments must work outside the capital for a certain number of years during his or her service term.

Right activist Sultana Kamal, also an advisor of the caretaker government, said: “At the time of posting, the authorities have to think about the situation in our society. Why does a woman have to go to a remote area?”

Development activist Shipra Bose held fundamentalist groups like Hefazat-e-Islam responsible for holding women back. She said: “We must stop thinking that ‘women cannot do everything.”

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