Bangladesh Has Become a Test Case for Women’s Empowerment

By Claudia Sadoff in IPS: A decade ago, not even one in four rural women (in Bangladesh) could be said to be “empowered” across five key metrics, a figure that surprised even those working on the ground with the country’s poorest. By 2015, this had risen to more than two in five, or 41 per cent, with continued gains in recent years.

A key reason for this rise was a systematic effort to measure empowerment among rural women in real terms using measurements that were directly related to their daily lives, including farming and fishing. The findings were a wake-up call that guided and motivated action towards a more targeted approach to improving women’s participation and decision-making in food systems. The result is not only greater gender equality but subsequent improvements in nutrition, health, and productivity. And while the gender gap was slowly closing, Bangladesh achieved lower-middle-income status, with reductions in extreme poverty, as well as child and maternal mortality.

Researchers deployed a pioneering tool, the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI). If more countries, governments and agencies made use of the WEAI or similar, to guide policy and investment decisions, women’s empowerment could be leveraged as a gateway towards a healthier, more inclusive and fairer world. More here.

This hospital in Satkhira, Bangladesh won an award for best new building in the world: