There remains plenty of work to be done before Bangladesh can truly claim to be gender-equal
Oftentimes, it is the successful, long-term enacting of a plan or program that brings transformative change to society.
To that end, it is gratifying and heartening to learn, from a recent expansive study that used four rounds of surveys on over 1,700 households over a span of 26 years, that the Female Secondary Stipend and Assistance Program (FSSAP) -- introduced in 1994 for secondary-level girl students in Bangladesh -- has not only improved education outcomes in the short run, but in the long run has been successful in delaying marriage, increasing the probability of employment, and increasing the probability of marrying men who are more educated and employed.
Furthermore, it has helped with contraceptive use, reducing fertility, and increasing preference for daughters, with the experts of the study concluding that the development benefits of the stipend program outweigh its cost by more than 200%.
To see such a program pay dividends in Bangladesh -- and one that was replicated in countries such as Pakistan, Rwanda, and Ghana -- is not only extremely encouraging, but shows once again that we ought to be devising more such plans for our country to derive benefit from.
Investing in girls and women has been one of the hallmarks of Bangladesh over the past three decades now; ensuring a gender-equal society where both men and women are afforded opportunities to make something of their lives can only bring benefits to society.
Despite our success, there remains plenty of work to be done before Bangladesh can truly claim to be gender-equal, equitable, and a nation where every single citizen, regardless of gender, receives the same opportunities and benefits. The work Bangladesh has already done towards educating its girls, however, is praiseworthy, and Bangladesh rightfully deserves credit for this turnaround