Gender equality

Bangladeshi women have been struggling to establish their rights in family, society and in the state. Practically in the society and the implementation of law, women are still facing discrimination, exclusion and injustice and have negligible influence in decision making processes. Discriminatory laws and policies hinder formal equality and socio-political conditions prevent women from exercising their rights. Girls are often considered a burden, especially for poor households, where they are at risk of marriage at an early age and where the practice of dowries though illegal continues and is burdensome. Women are usually the last to eat at mealtimes and 30% of the women are chronically malnourished. Furthermore, violence against women makes women socially vulnerable and prevents them from fully participating in society. However, women’s opportunities and public participation in Bangladesh have changed significantly in recent decades. For example, major progress has been made in closing the gender gap in school enrollments at both primary and secondary levels; girls currently outnumber boys’ enrollments. Many women are now members of the local government councils that have important responsibilities for rural and urban development. The rapid growth of the garment industry has provided a large number of formal sector jobs for women, who comprise more than 90% of its labor force. This has significantly contributed to Bangladesh’s annual GDP growth rate of more than 5% over the past decade.

Challenges for women in Bangladesh include the following:

  • According to Human Development Index 2011, 58.7% of women participate in the labor force compared to 82.5% of male. Female participation is also concentrated in lower-level jobs and wages are about half of the male wage rate
  • Though gender parity has been achieved in primary and secondary education enrollment, drop-out rates are higher for girls than boys
  • Maternal mortality rate is comparatively still high -194 per 100,000 live births – and only 24% of births attended by skilled health personnel. An estimated 30% of adult women in Bangladesh are malnourished (Gender Assessment USAID/Bangladesh, April 2010)
  • Bangladesh has the unfortunate distinction of persistent early marriage (average age of marriage is 16.4 years) and early child bearing which often contribute to high fertility and maternal mortality
  • A number of laws exist to prevent violence against women but the enforcement of those laws remains a major challenge. The Bangladesh Cabinet recently approved ‘ The Domestic Violence (resistance and protection ) Act , 2010

In order to broaden the participation of women, reduce gender-based discrimination and improve the status of women, World Vision Bangladesh has recognized the importance of gender equity as essential to poverty reduction, improved living standards and sustainable economic growth. Thus it is continuing to promote and support gender equity by designing gender inclusive projects and paying careful attention to gender issues across the full range of its operations such as improved access for females to education and health services, clean water, better sanitation, and basic infrastructure. World Vision Bangladesh’s operations will be guided by its gender and development policy and gender and development plan of action.

World Vision Bangladesh’s Response to Gender Equity:

Goal: To reduce gender gaps and promote gender equality enabling women to experience their full range of rights and freedoms

To achieve this objective, World Vision Bangladesh Gender seeks to pursue its call and aspiration through three intervention strategies:

  1. Decreasing the level of violence against women and nurturing its victims
    • Awareness building and education to communities and families
    • Male and female focused advocacy efforts
    • Network building with influential community, faith-based and educational leaders
    • Support for avenues to justice
    • Partnering to reduce trafficking in women
  2. Reducing discrimination and ensuring equal access to services
    • Engaging women in family and community level economic activities
    • Improved access to social services
    • Partnerships with institutions of influence
    • Parental awareness building on importance of education
    • Reducing economic and cultural barriers to female education
    • Building capacity and awareness to identify and address sources of injustice
    • Identifying and analyzing core problems and opportunities
    • Support services to widows and women escaping violence
  3. Fostering equality in decision-making
    • Advocating for a balanced male-female role in family and community
    • Facilitating women’s control over resources
    • Awareness building on educational benefits and effects of early marriage
    • Growing capacity of gender-focused community groups

Key Results:

  • 117% of community people participated in ADP’s awareness seminars and workshops through Gender and Development Program
  • 113% of target people attended training /orientation on right based issues
  • A total of 42 (120%) GAD taskforce functioning with 480 (100%) members in the GAD task force committee
  • 101% of members attended in the training on GAD and Advocacy & right based programs
  • 97,636 (115% ) community people have been served through the GAD program

Download Factsheet


  1. Country Gender Assessment Bangladesh: Asian Development Bank 2010
  2. Human Development Index 2011
  3. Secondary Strategy 2009-2013, Sector Ministry : Gender, World Vision Bangladesh