UN Women – United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

UN Women – United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women

Asia and the Pacific

UN Women Bangladesh

Established as a secular people’s republic in 1971, Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world with a population of approximately 160 million. Bangladesh acceded to CEDAW in 1984 and continues to maintain reservations to Articles 2 and 16(1c). The Constitution recognizes equal rights for women and men in the public sphere and there is a reasonably strong legal and policy framework guaranteeing women’s rights. The National Women's Development Policy 2011 and its National Action Plan provide a base for government action to promote gender equality, and the 7th 5-year plan integrates gender equality issues across a number of sectors with some new sectoral policies addressing gender issues effectively. Currently, gender responsive budgeting is institutionalized across 43 ministries.

The country is internationally recognized for its good progress on a number of gender indicators. These include gender parity in primary and secondary education and maternal mortality that has declined by 66 per cent over last few decades, estimated at a rate of 5.5 per cent every year1. Bangladesh ranks highest in the Gender Gap Index in South Asia achieving 47th among 144 countries in the world2. However, significant gaps remain. The rates of violence against women remain high. Almost two out of three (72.6 per cent) ever-married women in Bangladesh have experienced some form of partner violence in their lifetime, and more than half (54.7 per cent) have experienced it in the last 12 months3. Women are also discriminated against in family life. In Bangladesh, marriage, divorce, custody of children, maintenance and inheritance are subject to religious law and these ‘personal laws’ often discriminate against women.

In July 2015, Bangladesh crossed the threshold to lower middle-income country (MIC). In March 2018, the country was recommended for LDC graduation, and is working towards officially graduating from LDC status by 2024. Much of this growth has been driven by a rapidly expanding industrial sector, in particular ready-made garments (RMG) which accounts for more than 80 per centof Bangladesh’s exports. Macroeconomic priorities of the government include increasing domestic revenue (Bangladesh has the lowest tax/GDP ratio in the world at about eight per cent), expanding and diversifying trade (FDI/GDP is less than one per cent), strengthening infrastructure and energy provision, and developing a more skilled workforce4. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the labour force participation rate in 2015-2016 was 81.9 per cent for males and 35.6 per cent for females. Of these, 95.4 per cent females and 82.3 per cent male are in informal employment as wage labourers, self-employed persons, unpaid family labour, piece-rate workers, and other hired labour.

Bangladesh has a significant history of women organizing movements to claim their rights. Over the years, women’s groups have mobilized themselves and made sure their voices are heard in various issues, starting from violence against women, gender equality in securing economic opportunities and participation, equal representation in politics, reproductive rights, family law reforms and gender mainstreaming in public policies.

Against this backdrop, UN Women in Bangladesh’s is working with its government and civil society partners in the following areas:

News and Updates

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Youth Voices on the 20th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security

 Thursday, December 3, 2020

Peace and security means being fearless and to have freedom of life, choice, voice”, said Smaranika Chakma, an indigenous youth activist from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Smaranika was speaking at a virtual youth panel event to commemorate 20 years of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, jointly organized by UN Women Bangladesh, Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ) of Brac University, and Naripokkho

Lucky, As an outspoken women’s rights activist, I have gained the confidence necessary to help Rohingya women from similar backgrounds as mine, Bangladesh. Photo: UN Women/ Mahmudul Karim

From where I stand: “As an outspoken women’s rights activist, I have gained the confidence necessary to help Rohingya women from similar backgrounds as mine”

 Friday, October 30, 2020

Having to flee from armed conflict in Myanmar has changed my perspective on life. My father was in jail as a political prisoner when we fled, so I had to take a lot of responsibility for my family. These experiences first created a wound but are now giving me strength to work for my community and to help Rohingya women get a better life.

Rimu Sultana Rimu. Photo: UN Women/Mahmudul Karim

From where I stand: “Teaching girls how to read and write is one of the biggest ways I can make a difference”

 Monday, October 19, 2020

When I look around me, I see that women and girls are treated as less than men and are not given the same rights and opportunities. It’s a very traditional culture and we have endured conflict, violence and displacement. When girls and women are not treated as equals, there can be no real chance of achieving a strong and peaceful society. On a daily basis, girls here face many problems: child marriage, street harassment and sexual violence.

Begum is a sex worker at Baniashanta brothel, located at Dacoope, Khulna, a southern district of Bangladesh. Photo: UN Women/Fahad Kaizer

From Where I Stand: Begum

 Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Begum (45) is a sex worker at Baniashanta brothel, in Dacoope, Khulna, a southern district of Bangladesh. Since Cyclone Amphan hit in May 20 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, she has lost everything, but not hope. Cyclone Amphan and the pandemic have left us completely at the mercy of fate!

Support us in responding to humanitarian crises, female activists in Bangladesh say

 Thursday, September 24, 2020

Female leaders have called for greater efforts to promote women on the front lines in responding to humanitarian crises in Bangladesh.

From Where I Stand: Mahmuda Sultana Shorna

 Friday, September 18, 2020

Mahmuda Sultana Shorna is the President of Women Peace Café (WPC) at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. Since the COVID 19 pandemic hit Bangladesh, she has found innovative ways to keep spreading messages of peace while helping women in her community.

Photo of Umme Kulsum standing on a small road surounding by big trees. Photo: UN Women

From Where I Stand: Working to Build Peace During the Pandemic

 Friday, September 18, 2020

COVID19 has completely changed my life. After the university closed, all academic activities were suspended, and I was forced to return home. I live in a remote village in Bogura district and aside from worrying about my studies and the health risks posed by COVID19, I am also suffering from poor connectivity issues. However, I am trying to do my part during the crisis.

A Strong Role Model for her Daughters

 Thursday, August 13, 2020

Bobita Rani Bormon, a single mother with two daughters lives in Savar, an area about 25 kilometers away from Dhaka city. She has been working for a readymade garment (RMG) factory, as a senior operator for six months and before that I worked with another RMG factory for two years.

Webinar Report on Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Bangladesh

 Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Experts discussed about the Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) findings which UN Women conducted recently with contributions from the GiHA member agencies- UNFPA, UNICEF, CARE, World Vision, Plan International, and the Resident Representative’s Office.

Education programming for refugee women & girls: Findings from a needs assessment study

 Monday, June 29, 2020

With 1 billion students and youth across the globe affected by school and university closures, there is increasing debate around ongoing disruption in education.

Rapid Gender Analysis Cyclone Amphan

 Thursday, June 18, 2020

This Rapid Gender Analysis looks at identifying the impacts of cyclone Amphan based on the socio-economic condition and geographical locations of affected populations, which would provide the foundation for Amphan response planning.

Press release: Gender Monitoring Network calls the Government of Bangladesh to take urgent action for a Gender-Responsive COVID 19 Relief and Response

 Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Gender Monitoring Network calls on Policy Makers to recognize women human rights and integrate an intersectional gender equality approach in the COVID 19 Response to ensure everyone has access to necessary information and supports and resources.

UN Women and Rohingya women at the frontline of COVID-19 response

 Monday, June 1, 2020

The world in lockdown has created a ‘profound shock to our societies and economies, and women are at the heart of care and response efforts underway.

Featured video
Women in leadership

This Women’s Day we celebrate the leader in every one of us. Happy Women’s Day.

Featured video
Every Day is Women’s Day – Rohingya Women Speak Up

Three years since the massive Rohingya influx began in August 2017, today there are over a million Rohingya in need of humanitarian assistance in Cox’s bazar and over half of them are women and girls.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, reports have shown increases in of all types of violence against women and girls. This is the Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a collective effort to stop it.
As the Rohingya women and girls demanded on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2020, that one day for women is not enough!
In that spirit, Let’s make every day Women’s day – be it in dealing with a disease outbreak, armed conflict, disaster or a refugee crisis!