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Bulletins Bulletin : Published
Date: Sunday, March 03, 2002
From: kumropotash
Re: Re: Kumropotash.............Women Development

Onti I will be happy to discuss this topic too. In my view, we don’t have many working women in Bangladesh for several reasons. One is unemployment. The level of unemployment is very high among men so there is no motivation for women to join the workforce. This is supported by the traditional view that men will earn money and women will take care of home (please note that I am just stating what is happening in Bangladesh – I don’t subscribe to such belief). This notion also affects the women. Many women (including those who are educated) tend to think that their life can be fulfilled by getting married and bringing up children. I have seen many women choosing family life over a successful career (a woman is free to make her choice but I am concerned they tend to prefer home over work because this has been inculcated in their minds and hence they can’t think objectively). In my view, the most effective remedy to this problem has to be intrinsic i.e., one has to understand and realize what economic autonomy is (the movie “Mahanagar” is an excellent work in this regard – the main reason why so many women went outside home to take on jobs in the Indian subcontinent at that time despite social resistance was because the men could not adequately support their families). If a woman realizes that she can improve her condition as well as her family’s condition by working, she will be motivated to do so. However this motivation cannot be transformed into actions successfully because of the social and economic conditions (unemployment, traditional inculcated attitude toward man’s and woman’s role, religion etc.). Development workers can intervene at this stage and provide the necessary support (infrastructural, mental, moral, monetary etc.) so that women can feel that they can start working outside home despite all the existing obstacles. This might be (and should be) done by minimizing (I won’t go for eliminating) the conflicts with existing social norms and values but it will have to be carried out very tactfully. One has to have thorough understanding of the social system in Bangladesh to plan how to turn potential problems into opportunities. It is a Herculean task but it can be done as I have mentioned the arsenic campaign. That’s a start!

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