Women development policy implementation progress needs to be evaluated as it is geared to end in 2023, they say
Experts at an online discussion have called for the government to form a gender budget monitoring cell with the help of private stakeholders.
It is important to both implement and evaluate the impact of the upcoming national gender budget to understand and address any gaps in women’s development, they added.
The online discussion, titled “Impact of Covid-19 on women and the upcoming national budget,” was organized by the central committee of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) on Sunday.
Maleka Banu, general secretary of BMP, said: “The world is moving towards gender equality by setting Sustainable development goals (SDGs), and Bangladesh is also working towards that. However, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the improvements that have been made are now under threat. Women have been among the worst affected.
Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, associate professor of Economics at University of Dhaka, presented a report by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) titled “Impact of Covid-19 on women.” The report covered the last year and a half.
According to the report, 90% of women in the country work in the informal sector, and 9% more women are unemployed than men. Unpaid care work for women increased from 3-4 hours a day to 7-8 hours a day during the pandemic.
Furthermore, 89% of women reported that they have no leisure time.
The report also found that 51.2% of households with female heads have faced income cuts, as opposed to 49% of households with male heads.
Dr Bidisha said women have lost big in education and health due to the pandemic, as it has pushed up the dropout rate and increased the rate of child marriage alarmingly.
She further said maternal and child health (MCH) service uptake had plummeted by 50% during the pandemic, nationwide.
Jahangirnagar University department of economics Prof Sharmind Neelormi said: “This report highlights the gaps in women’s development that have been created in the crisis. Through this, there is an idea of which areas of the forthcoming budget should be given special importance.”
Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of SANEM, said almost 30 million people, including a high number of women, had fallen into poverty due to the pandemic and these people need to be given importance in the upcoming budget.
DBC News Editor Pranab Saha said: “Manyfemale migrant workers have returned, and they have not been able to find work. Many of them want to go abroad again. The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment can put an allocation in their budget to provide various facilities to them.”
Dr Fauzia Moslem, president of BMP, said: “The Women Development Policy is coming to an end in 2023. Implementation progress of the policy needs to be included in the upcoming budget.”