Condition of Women in Bangladesh: A Study of Literature

United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 Distr. : General 24 March 2010 Original: English Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Combined sixth and seventh periodic report of States parties Bangladesh* * The present report is being issued without formal editing. 10-28851 (E) 090610 *1028851* CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 Contents Page
List of Abbreviations Used ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4 Introduction ………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………. 6 Outline of the Report ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 11 Section I: Background Framework …………………………………………………………………………………. 12 1.
General Information ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 12 A. Demographic, economic, social and cultural characteristics………………………………………………. 12 B. Constitutional, political and legal structure……………………………………………………………………… 19 2. General Framework for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights …………………………. 20 C. Acceptance of international human rights norms ……………………………………………………………… 0 D. Legal framework for the protection of human rights at the national level ……………………………. 21 E. Framework within which human rights are promoted at the national level…………………………… 22 F. Reporting process at the national level ……………………………………………………………………………. 23 3. Information on Non-Discrimination and Equality and Effective Remedies ……………………….. 24 Section II: Convention-specific Document ……………………………………………………………………….. 25 1.

Implementation of Concluding Observations on Fifth Periodic Report …………………………….. 25 2. Additional Legal and other Appropriate Steps and Measures Undertaken ………………………… 42 A. Part I ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 43 Article 1: Discrimination ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 43 Article 2: Policy Measures………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3 Article 3: Guarantee of Basic Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms……………………………….. 45 Article 4: Special Measures ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 51 Article 5: Sex Role Stereotyping and Prejudice……………………………………………………………………. 56 Article 6: Suppression of Exploitation………………………………………………………………………………… 57 B.
Part II ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 58 Article 7: Political and Public Life……………………………………………………………………………………… 58 Article 8: Representation ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 58 Article 9: Nationality ………………………………………………………………….. …………………………………… 59 C.
Part III ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 59 Article 10: Education ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 59 Article 11: Employment……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 61 Article 12: Health…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2 Article 13: Economic and Social Benefits …………………………………………………………………………… 64 Article 14: Rural Women ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 64 2 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 D. Part IV ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 64 Article 15: Law ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4 Article 16: Marriage and Family Life …………………………………………………………………………………. 64 3. Remaining and Emerging Obstacles and Measures Envisaged …………………………………………. 64 4. Impact of Measures Taken ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 67 5. Different Groups of Women ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 69 6. Fundamental Changes in Political and Legal Approach …………………………………………………… 0 7. Optional Protocol …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 71 8. Outcomes of UN Conferences, Summits and Reviews ……………………………………………………… 71 A. Beijing Platform for Action…………………………………………………………………………………………… 71 B. MDGs ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 71 C.
Others ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 73 Annex-A ………………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………………….. 74 List of Tables ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 103 Reference Documents ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 104 10-28851 3 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 List of Abbreviations Used
AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ASF Acid Survivors Foundation BC Budget Call Circular BDHS Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey BLA Bangladesh Labour Act BMET Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training BWG Budget Working Group CDC Community Development Committee CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women CMNS Child and Mother Nutrition Survey DC Deputy Commissioner DNA DeoxyriboNucleic Acid DPHE Department of Public Health Engineering DSS Department of Social Services ECCE Early Childhood Care and Education FP Focal Point FMRP Financial Management Reform Project FY
Financial Year GAD Gender and Development GE Gender Equality GIO Gender Issue Office GM Gender Mainstreaming GoB Government of Bangladesh GRB Gender Responsive Budgeting GRP Gender Responsive Planning HIES Household Income and Expenditure Survey HNPSP Health, Nutrition and Population Sector Program ICPD International Conference on Population and Development ICT Information and Communication Technology IEC Information, Education and Communication LGED Local Government Engineering Department LGI Local Government Institution LPUPAP Local Partnerships for Urban Poverty Alleviation Project MDG Millennium Development Goal MoE
Ministry of Education MoEWOE Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment MoF Ministry of Finance MoFDM Ministry of Food and Disaster Management MoHA Ministry of Home Affairs MoHFW Ministry of Health and Family Welfare MoLJPA Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs MoI Ministry of Information 4 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 MoLGRDC Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives MoP Ministry of Planning MoPME Ministry of Primary and Mass Education MoRA Ministry of Religious Affairs MoSW Ministry of Social Welfare MoWCA Ministry of Women and Children Affairs MTBF Medium-Term Budget Framework NAP
National Action Plan for the Advancement of Women NCWD National Council for Women’s Development NCWCD National Council for Women and Child Development NFBE Non Formal Basic Education NIPORT National Institute of Population Research and Training NPWA National Policy for Women’s Advancement NSAPR National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction PFA Platform for Action RMG Readymade Garment SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation SEI Socio Economic and Infrastructure SERWTCI Self Employment of Rural Women Through Cottage Industries TIP Trafficking in Persons VAW Violence Against Women WBGNS World Bank Gender Norms Study WID
Women in Development 10-28851 5 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 6th and 7th Combined Report (2001~2009) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women Bangladesh Introduction Bangladesh, a signatory to the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) has been committed in attaining the objectives of ensuring gender equality and empowerment of women. Bangladesh Government has been actively engaged in formulating proactive policies and taking affirmative actions for accelerating the implementation process in achieving the goal of holistic empowerment of women.
Over the last two decades the initiative to ensure equal rights of women and non-discrimination has gained momentum in Bangladesh and has been successful in mobilizing and coordinating women to stand up for their rights. However, relentless endeavour is underway on the part of the Government by way of adoption of policies, legislation, strategies, national action plans and programs for realization of empowerment of women. The pro-women policies, strategies and measures of the Government undertaken in the last decades have positively influenced the reduction of poverty of women.
A number of Programs were undertaken by Government that includes safety net, development activities, etc. The NGOs have micro credit programs for production and business by women. Private sector generated employment for women especially in garments sectors. All these have contributed to greater poverty reduction for women. Progress of women can be traced from their increasing economic participation through employment in various sectors including garments, shoes and cosmetics industries in formal sector and also self-employment in non-formal activities.
Women also work in agricultural sector; women are employed in crop production, in livestock, in forestry, in fishery. There is a growing trend of women working in construction sites. Positive indicators of women’s advancement in the country are reflected in continuing gender parity in school enrolment, gradually lowered infant mortality and decrease in maternal mortality rates. There has been significant progress in health and education areas. The improved health services through implementation of Health, Nutrition and Population related Programs have contributed to improved health especially of women. Nutrition situation has also improved.
The proportion of non-pregnant mothers in the chronic energy deficiency situation declined from 44. 2 percent in 2000 (BDHS 2000) to 32. 2 percent in 2005 (CMNS 2005). Maternal mortality decreased to 3. 37 per 1000 live births in 2006 from 3. 65 in 2004. 6 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 In carrying forward CEDAW commitments, Government of Bangladesh formulated the National Policy for Advancement of Women in 1997 in the light of the Constitution of Bangladesh, CEDAW Convention, BPFA and broad based consultation with the stakeholders including human rights organizations, women’s rights activists, non Governmental organizations and the civil society.
The said Policy is under review and will be implemented in an updated manner. National Action Plan for Women’s Advancement was adopted in 1998 projecting the strategy of mainstreaming gender in all Governmental policies by the sectoral Ministries. The CEDAW Committee in its Concluding Comments on the Fifth Periodic Report of Bangladesh congratulated the Government for achieving gender parity and dramatic increase in the enrolment of girls in primary and lower secondary level in schools.
This was possible by the innovative steps taken by the Government of making substantial investments in both primary and secondary education of girls by giving scholarships, stipends and introducing free education. The Committee praised the initiative of the Government in reaching out to rural poor women in providing maternal health care and services through community and mobile clinics which resulted in decrease of maternal mortality rate.
The Committee further observed that while the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh remained low, the Government continued to take urgent measures to prevent any possible epidemic through various awareness raising programs. The Committee concluded by observing that Bangladesh was marching ahead with the correct mindset and progress on all socioeconomic fronts including women’s empowerment was palpable. The journey to ensure empowerment of women began since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees women equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and public life as a fundamental right. Article 28(2)) Constitution states that State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of sex and nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making special provision in favour of women or children or for the advancement of any backward section of citizens. The Constitution further provides that steps shall be taken in ensure participation of women in all spheres of national life as a fundamental principle of state policy (Article 10). A new era of democracy has ushered in Bangladesh with the Parliamentary Elections in December 2008. The newly elected Government has declared “Vision 2021”.
Bangladesh Government is committed in mainstreaming gender issues in order to incorporate them within the framework of macroeconomics and formulation of policies to effectuate effective, 10-28851 7 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 substantial and visible changes to the lives of women at all levels and in all spheres. Empowerment and Development of Women Economic empowerment of women is a high priority agenda of the Government. Eradication of poverty being the focal point, Government strongly emphasizes that features of women’s poverty require a gender perspective in the pro-poor growth strategy.
Women being the most important agents of economic and social development and proportion of ultra poor being higher in female headed households in comparison to that of male headed ones, “Steps Towards Change: National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction-II (NSAPR-II)” has been formulated reflecting the commitment of the Government in its Election Manifesto and also in the light of the Millennium Development Goals, with particular emphasis in reducing feminised poverty.
NSAPR-II stresses the need for reducing feminised poverty by providing support for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) initiative of women by resource mobilization; providing credit facilities to women on easy terms; creating market linkages for women to market their products through cooperatives; providing skill development training for facilitating employment opportunities. It further envisages facilitating increased participation of women in labour force and ensuring equal wages for them.
It purports to foster Rural Non-Farm Activities (RNFA) as an effective poverty reduction activity for women. In order to make this sector more vibrant, certain interventions have been identified as necessary, for example – improving marketing capacity by providing sales centres in Growth Centre markets (GCM) and peri-urban markets; providing training on food processing activities; providing basic skills about business management and steps linking them to markets; setting up vocational training institutes in rural and peri-urban areas etc.
Keeping in view the special aspects of women’s poverty, it has been recognized that women frequently experience poverty differently and therefore different poverty reduction priorities need to be identified and different development interventions are required. In empowering women to become equal partners of development, “Vision 2021” reflected in NSAPR-II aims to enhance women’s participation in mainstream economic activities; creating opportunities for education and marketable skills training, enabling them to participate; incorporating women’s needs and concerns in all sectoral plans; promoting enabling environment at the work place.
Investment in women’s education and training has proven to deliver large social and economic returns. 8 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 In ensuring social safety net protection for vulnerable women in extreme poverty, Vulnerable Group Development Program (VGD) is providing extreme poor and distressed women food assistance along with development package training. Skill development training on income generating activities as well as nutrition, primary health, HIV/AIDS etc. is being given. Microcredit programs are helping women develop self employment.
Similarly, there is Widow Allowance, Elderly Persons Allowance, Maternity and Lactating Mothers allowances. Women with disability are also given support. Notable progress has been made in attaining gender parity in primary education. Special emphasis has been given to girl child’s education. Stipend for girls, free education up to primary level have resulted in increased enrolment of girls and decreasing dropout rates. Positive results have been achieved in reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality through effective institutional measures. Measures to Combat Violence Against Women
In preventing violence against women legislations are in place – Prevention of Cruelty to Women and Children Act, Acid Crime Control Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act etc. The draft Bill on Prevention of Domestic Violence is at the stage of finalization and steps are being taken to enact the same shortly. The Hon’ble High Court Division of Supreme Court of Bangladesh has recently given directives detailing a set of guidelines for action in cases of sexual harassment of women in academic institutions, workplaces and organizations.
Steps are being taken to implement the directives of the Hon’ble Court. A Committee has already been formed by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs in compliance with the directives of the Hon’ble Court. One Stop Crisis Centres are operating in six Divisions of the Country where women victims of violence receive medical treatment, police assistance, legal support and rehabilitation service. National Trauma Counselling Centre has been established by MoWCA and there is help line support.
Legal assistance is provided by “Cell for Prevention of Violence Against Women” in the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Department of Women Affairs and Jatiyo Mohila Sangstha. Ministry of Women and Children Affairs is initiating a Gender Responsive Community Policing Program to ensure security for women and girls, to address vulnerability to domestic violence and facilitate access to justice. Awareness raising programs and advocacy are conducted with specific focus on engaging men and boys in prevention of violence against women and 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 changing stereotype mind set. Policy Dialogues are held in different districts throughout the country at the grass root level emphasizing the role of men and boys in preventing violence against women. There are teenagers clubs wherein boys and girls take part in many learning activities, sports and cultural activities in a friendly environment. In eliminating discrimination against women, Bangladesh Parliament enacted Citizenship Amendment Act, 2009 giving Bangladeshi woman the right to transmit her citizenship to her children.
Recognition of mother’s identity has been a milestone in promoting the cause of women’s empowerment by directing inclusion of mother’s name in the Passport and other official documents. Significant steps have been taken in effectuating political empowerment of women: • Under the Local Government Act, 1997 three seats have been reserved for direct election of women. • The Representation of People’s Order 2008 provided for two elected ViceChairman, one of which must be a woman. • The Hon’ble Prime Minister is a woman, Opposition Leader, Deputy Leader of House, six Members in the
Cabinet are women holding important portfolios Ministry of Home, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Labour and Employment, and Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, which demonstrates strong political will to place women in leadership position. • The Representation of People’s Order, 2008 further recommends that political parties nominate 33% women to contest directly in parliamentary elections. In order to ensure effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation, following steps have been adopted by the Government: Being a cross-cutting issue, programs are implemented by Sectoral Ministries while Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) as lead Ministry coordinates the functions. • WID focal points mechanism exists through which MoWCA follows up implementation by Sectoral Ministries addressing 12 areas of concern of BPFA and commitments under CEDAW Convention. In each Ministry there is a WID Focal Point and an Associate WID Focal Point. Meetings are organized quarterly by MoWCA where information is given by all other sectoral Ministries. At District and Sub-district level there are coordination committees. 10 0-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 • Highest Policy Making Body – There is National Council for Women and Children Development, headed by Hon’ble Prime Minister monitoring and evaluating implementation and activities and providing guidelines. • Under medium term budgetary framework (MTBF) 32 Ministries spending 60% of total national budget are required to answer about how their spending affects women and poverty. • Gender responsive budget has been formulated with particular emphasis on four Ministries which will be broadened. Sex-disaggregated data base is being prepared. However, there are many remaining challenges.
Emerging challenges need to be addressed to protect women and children as vulnerable and worst sufferers of climate change and disaster situation. We need to continue to work in facing these challenges together – Government, non-Governmental agencies, developing partners and friends and it is hoped that through concerted effort of all, it will be possible to create an enabling environment for women – free from poverty, free from violence and free from discrimination. Under the able leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh will succeed in achieving gender equality, development and non-discrimination for women.
Outline of the Report Prepared in the Light of Harmonized Reporting Guideline and the New Convention-Specific Reporting Guidelines of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women This 6th and 7th Combined Periodic Report has been prepared in the light of the Harmonized Reporting Guideline (on the form and content of reports to be submitted by States parties to the international Human Rights treaties) HRI/GEN/2/Rev. 5, 29 May 2008, and the new Convention-Specific Reporting Guidelines of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, CEDAW/SP/2008/INF/1, 8 July 2008.
The previous (Fifth) Periodic Report was considered by the CEDAW Committee in July 2004, and this Report covers the period August 2004~December 2009. The Report consists of two parts: Section I and Section II • Section I: Background Framework (Common Core Document) containing information of a general and factual nature. • Section 2: Convention-specific Document that Specifically Relates to the Implementation of the Convention. 10-28851 11 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 Section I: Background Framework (Common Core Document) 1. General Information A. Demographic, Economic, Social and Cultural Characteristics
The Country Profile: Area, Geography and Population 1. Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971 under the leadership of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It has a territory of about 147,570 square kilometres and is home to 142. 6 million people (2007), with a population density of 966 people per square kilometre, making Bangladesh as one of the most densely populated countries in the world 1. Approximately 90 percent of the Bangladesh population are Muslims, 9 percent are Hindus and the others constitute about one percent.
The overwhelmingly dominant sector of the economy is agriculture, occupying 80 percent of the total population and contributing 25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) 2. 2. According to Population Census 2001, the male/female ratio is 103. 8 compared to 106 as reported in Population Census 1991. This data indicates a movement towards better balance of male and female in the society. Life expectancy at birth has increased from 64. 2 in 2001 to 65. 4 in 2006. Female life expectancy increased from 64. 5 in 2001 to 65. 9 in 2006. During the same reference period for male, it increased from 64. to 64. 7. 3. Statistics from the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2005 and Population Census 1991 indicate that the percentage of population under 5 years of age went down from about 16 percent (16. 15 percent male and 16. 78 percent female) to 11. 58 percent (11. 92 percent male and 11. 77 percent female). The percentage of male population in the 0-14 age group decreased from 45. 3 percent in 1991 to 38. 2 percent in 2004. During the same reference period, percentage of female population in this age group went down from 44. 8 to 37. 6. 4.
The overall infant mortality rate (per thousand live births) declined from 71 in 1995 to 45 in 2006 and to 43 in 2007. Infant mortality for girl child declined from 70 in 1995 to 43 in 2006, and for boys, it declined from 73 in 1995 to 47 in 2006. 1 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, November 2008, Report on Sample Vital Registration System, 2007. 2 World Bank 2005, Attaining the Millennium Development Goals in Bangladesh (p. 5), cited in Bangladesh Gender Profile, German Development Bank 2004 12 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 5. The annual labour force growth rate for the period 2002-2003 to 2005-2006 stands at 2. 1 percent. During the same period, growth rate of women labour force was 5. 45 percent and for male it was 1. 23 percent per annum. While labour force participation (refined activity) rate in general increased from 57. 3 percent in 2002-2003 to 58. 5 percent in 2005-2006, women labour force increased at a more accelerated rate from 26. 1 percent to 29. 2 percent during the same period 3. Economic Progress 6. Per capita GDP in Bangladesh was about US$ 621 in 2008-2009 and US$ 559 in 2007-2008. GDP growth rate was 5. 88 percent in 2009 4. The contribution of agriculture and manufacturing sectors to the GDP was 17. 3 percent and 15. 40 percent respectively in 2008-2009. 7. Employment and foreign exchange earning of the country are dominated by Readymade Garments (RMG) industry, where over 80 percent of the 2 million workers are women. Over the past few years, increasing number of migrant women workers have also contributed to remittance inflow. 8. Manufacturing, service units of the modern and organized sectors are to be found mostly in the urban areas. There has been some reform in recent years such as reduction of control over investment, pursuing policies of denationalisation and privatisation of public enterprises. . Liberalization of trade and tariff, and creation of congenial environment for private investment have contributed towards economic transition. The RMG and the shrimp export are now facing serious constraints from global economic slowdown. Increase in remittance by expatriate Bangladeshi workers in recent years contributed to arrest the affect of global recession. This, coupled with domestic resource mobilization, enabled the Government to finance over one third of the development budget requirements from its own resources in recent years. 10.
Sample Survey on Agriculture Census in 2005 showed that absolute landlessness in rural Bangladesh increased from 10. 18 in 1996 census and 8. 67 in 1983-84 Census to10. 66. Proportion of marginal farmers in rural areas increased to 38. 08 in 2005 from 28. 45 in 1996 and 24. 06 in 1983-1984. The proportion of female-headed holdings out of the total holdings in rural Bangladesh decreased from 3. 48 percent in 1996 to 2. 58 percent in 2005 5. 3 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, April 2008, Labour Force Survey 2005-2006. 4 National Income Statistics, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, May 2009 in the website www. bs. gov. bd 5 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (June 2006), Agriculture Sample Survey of Bangladesh 2005 10-28851 13 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 11. Migration rate (per thousand population) at aggregate level (male and female) is 32. 29, with women migration registering 36. 47 and male, 28. 25. Of 100 rural to urban migration for women, 30. 56 are job-related, 9. 71 for marriage, 2. 92 for education and 56. 81 for other reasons. For males, of the 100 rural to urban migration, 55. 69 are job-related, 6. 07 for education, 1. 29 for marriage and 36. 95 for other reasons 6. 12.
There are indications by labour force surveys and also micro studies that the growth of rural non-farm sector has accelerated in recent years and has absorbed a part of the growing landless labour force and helped in the reduction of poverty. 1. 1. Status of Women in Bangladesh Socio-Cultural 13. Women’s participation in economic activity depends on education, training, health and the socio-economic enabling environment. Significant positive changes have been observed over the years in relation to socio-economic condition of women along with men in Bangladesh. Gender parity has been achieved in the primary and secondary education level.
Special education facilities for girl students, increasing involvement of women workers in the readymade garment sector, and more women in the political leadership at various levels reflect the positive socio-cultural change in women’s life in Bangladesh. 14. More women were in poverty situation compared to men in the period preceeding 2005. According to HIES 2005, about 35. 4 percent of female-headed households were in poverty compared with 34. 2 percent of male-headed households in 2000. The proportion of female-headed households has been reduced to 21. 9 percent in 2005. Women’s poverty has other dimensions.
They become poor when they lose the male earning member of the family because of abandonment, divorce, or death. The HIES 2005 reveals that about 29. 6 percent of divorced/widowed women were in poverty against the national average of 25. 1 percent women in poverty. While poverty affects the household as a whole, women bear a disproportionately greater burden in managing household production and consumption under conditions of severe scarcity. 15. There are incidences of discrimination of women within the household in terms of ownership of resources such as physical, financial and information. 6
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (December 2006), Report on Sample Vital Registration System (SVRS) 2004 14 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 Education 16. The literacy rate (7 years and above) of women in 2004 was 46. 2 percent as compared to 53. 7 percent for male. Literacy rate of women in 2007 increased to 52. 7 percent as compared to 59. 4 percent for male. Government undertook various measures for increasing literacy rate and education especially of women. The achievements in this field were the result of Government’s pro-active programs like the female students’ stipend programs in primary, secondary and higher secondary levels.
A stipend program in higher education for 30 percent female students from poor families is going to be introduced. 17. Three women polytechnic institutes were set up for attracting the girls in technical education. An International University for Women at Chittagong has been established for further facilitating higher education of girls. University of Dhaka introduced Women Studies Department for creating specialized expertise in the country on gender issues. Initiatives were taken to promote sports activities among young women and provide computer-training programs for women. 8. However, there exist differences in the quality of education in rural-urban areas. Still, there is a gender gap at the technical/vocational and the tertiary education levels. Only 26 percent female students are enrolled in the technical/vocational training institutes. Available data during 2004-2006 show that performance of female students in the public examination is improving both at secondary (percentage of pass increased from 45. 98 to 57. 32) and higher secondary education (percentage of pass increased from 46. 78 to 63. 52) levels. Health 19.
Women’s health has been considered by the Government as one of the indices of human development. An improvement in women’s health requires a change in the socio-cultural dimensions of society and overall improvement in women’s situation. Improvement in women’s health and nutrition includes human resource development, reduction of maternal and child mortality, primary health care services, reproductive health care services, men’s responsibility in reproductive health, adolescent girl’s reproductive health, breast feeding, safe drinking water, ageing women’s health etc.
Maternal mortality ratio (per thousand live births) decreased from 3. 65 in 2004 to 3. 51 in 2007. 20. Improvements in health services through implementation of the Health, Nutrition and Population Sector Program (HNPSP) have contributed to improved health especially of women. Initiation of community clinics was also a praiseworthy move in giving health service to women. For example, the nutritional status of women has improved as evidenced by the decline in the proportion of non-pregnant mothers in the chronic energy deficiency situation 10-28851 15 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 from 44. percent in 2000 (BDHS 2000) to 32. 2 percent in 2005 (CMNS 2005). Life expectancy at birth for women increased from 64. 4 years in 2004 to 65. 5 years in 2006. Employment 21. Women’s participation in employment has increased as a result of Government’s support to education, training, health and the socio-economic enabling environment including access to resources (SME policies, credit facilities etc. ). Women’s economic participation in formal labour market has increased significantly due to changes in economic expansion, rural livelihood patterns, and rural-to-urban migration.
Their participation in the labour force has increased from 26. 1 percent in 2002-03 to 29. 2 percent in 2005-06 as compared to 86. 8 percent for men in 2005-06. 22. Government is emphasizing marketable skills training for women on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), agricultural extension etc. The women friendly health services, nutritional knowledge and interventions are crucial for women’s engagement in economic activities. The financial services are being geared to the needs women farmers and entrepreneurs for developing all types of enterprises including agro-based small industries.
Market information and facilities for women, both for farm and non-farm activities are being made gender sensitive. Transport services are being made conducive for participation of women in economic activities. 2. 1. National Policies and Strategies for Gender Mainstreaming 23. National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA) was adopted in 1997 through a wide consultative process with stakeholders, women rights groups, human rights activists, and in the light of the CEDAW Convention, Beijing PFA, and Constitution of Bangladesh.
It may be noted that after signing Beijing PFA in 1995, Bangladesh was one of the first countries adopting NPWA in 1997 and the NPA in 1998, reflecting its staunch commitment as a State-party to the regional and international laws. While activities and programs were underway inconformity with NPWA 1997, the said Policy was subsequently revised in 2004 and 2008. Presently, the Government is in the process of reviewing and reinstating the 1997 Policy, as clearly spelt in its election manifesto after holding consultation with the stakeholders.
The Policy clearly spells out the commitments for promoting human rights, education and training, health and nutrition, political empowerment of women, administrative reform, and preventing violence and oppression against women. 24. Women’s needs and interest have been considered in various development plans of Bangladesh in order to ensure gender equality. The first NSAPR (200516 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 2008) addressed gender equality issues from a human rights perspective as well as for achieving pro-poor growth and poverty reduction 7.
The NSAPR document included extensive discussion on the gender-related dimensions of poverty. Steps Towards Change: NSAPR II (2009-2011) formulated by the present Government in the light of its Election Manifesto and MDGs puts forward the gender agenda with more emphasis in gender mainstreaming through integration into planning and budgeting. This has been reflected through the Medium-Term Budget Framework (MTBF) that considers gender concerns in budget preparation process to minimise the gaps through Gender Responsive Planning (GRP) and Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB). 25.
NSAPR II has been formulated placing poverty reduction at the forefront of its development strategy. The special aspects of women’s poverty have been emphasized. The total number of poor women is higher than that of poor men. ‘Hard core’ poor are largely women and the number of ultra poor and extreme poor is higher in female-headed households than in male-headed households. HIES 2005 shows that about 29. 6 percent of divorced/widowed women live below the poverty line against the national average of 25. 1 percent. Moreover, women’s social subordination makes them more vulnerable to poverty.
Women have few rights and choices in taking personal decisions regarding education, marriage, child bearing, family expenditure pattern, and participation in labour market and income generating activities. Discrimination against women at the social level is reflected in their movement limited within the homestead, lack of mobility in the public space, early marriage (average age of marriage for women is 20. 2 years while that for men is 27. 6 years) and the practice of dowry. Women have weak protection socially and legally in the event of break-up of marriages.
They fall easily in the trap of trafficking. 26. NSAPR II has outlined strategies to address the critical areas for pro-poor economic growth including support to women involved in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through increase in the flow of formal credit to women entrepreneurs and making the SME policies and strategies sensitive to the needs of women entrepreneurs. The Women Entrepreneurs Forum in SME Foundation would be used as a channel to safeguard women’s interests as equal partners in business development activities.
The strategies also call for addressing the issue of a smaller share of women employment through promoting decent employment including employment-based social safety nets through public works programs, expanding and diversifying vocational training courses and facilities for women, undertaking initiatives for exporting women workers, reviewing labour policy to remove discrepancy between male and women wages for same work and productivity, and enforcement of labour laws especially those relating to women labour. 7 Planning Commission (October 2005), National Strategy For Accelerated Poverty Reduction (NSAPR) 0-28851 17 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 27. NSAPR II has emphasized Women’s Advancement and Rights under its supporting strategies and takes into account that women frequently experience poverty differently, have different poverty reduction priorities and are affected differently by development interventions. In addressing gender based discrimination, NSAPR II follows a two-pronged approach – firstly, gender is integrated into all thematic policy matrices covering sectoral interventions; and secondly, there is a specific matrix dealing with gender equality commitments. 28.
In addition, all international commitments (CEDAW, PFA, MDGs) as well as national policy (NPWA) and NAP have been reflected in the NSAPR II with concerned Ministry specific responsibility as per sector/theme. A significant step was taken by MoWCA towards institutionalisation of GE/GM concerns in the policies, programs, systems and operations through WID Focal Point mechanism. Currently, there are approximately 98 WID FPs and Associate WID FPs in 49 Ministries/Divisions/Departments and having regular quarterly meetings for follow up on the implementation status of NAP within their Ministries and Agencies. 29.
The overall development goal for women’s empowerment covers: (i) promoting and protecting women’s rights; (ii) eradicating the persistent burden of poverty on women; (iii) eliminating discrimination against women; (iv) enhancing women’s participation in mainstream economic activities; (v) creating opportunities for education and marketable skills training to enable them to participate and be competitive in all economic activities; (vi) incorporating women’s needs and concerns in all sectoral plans and programs; (vii) promoting an enabling environment at work place: setting up day are centres for the children of working mothers, career women hostels, safe accommodation for working women; (viii) providing safe custody for women and children victims of trafficking and desertion, and creating an enabling environment for their integration in the mainstream of society; (ix) ensuring women’s empowerment in the field of polities and decision making; (x) taking action to acknowledge women’s contribution in social and economic spheres; (xi) ensuring women’s social security against all vulnerability and risks in the state, society and family; (xii) eliminating all forms of violation and exploitation against women; (xiii) developing women’s capacity through health and nutrition care; (xiv) facilitating omen’s participation in all national and international bodies; (xv) strengthening the existing institutional capacity for coordination and monitoring of women’s advancement’ (xvi) taking action through advocacy and campaigns to depict positive images of women; (xvii) taking special measures for skills development of women workers engaged in the export-oriented sectors; (xviii) incorporating gender equality concerns in all trade-related negotiations and activities; and (xix) ensuring gender sensitive growth with regional balance; and (xx) protecting women from the adverse effects of environmental degradation and climate change. 18 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 B. Constitutional, Political and Legal Structure Constitutional Structure
Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 1972 is the solemn expression of the will of the people and the supreme law of the land. If any other law in inconsistent with the Constitution that other law shall to the extent of such inconsistency be void. Part-II of the Constitution contains the Fundamental Principles of State Policy, fundamental to the governance of Bangladesh to be applied by the State in the making of laws and serve as guide to interpretation of the Constitution and of other laws. Part-III contains Fundamental Rights i. e. fright to equality before law, right to life, right to equal protection of law etc. Article 28 (1) provides that State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of sex.
Article 28 (2) specifically provides that “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and public life”. Article 7 is the Pole Star of the Constitution stating that all powers in the Republic belong to the people. Political Structure 30. Bangladesh has a parliamentary form of Government headed by Prime Minister. Parliament consists of 300 members who are directly elected and 45 women members from reserved seats as enshrined in the Constitution, constituting a total of 345 members of Parliament. It may be mentioned that 19 members are women who have been directly elected which makes the number of women Parliamentarians 64 (45+19).
The local Government representatives are responsible for local level development. The country is administratively divided into 6 divisions consisting of 64 districts, 467 Upazilas (sub-districts) and 4,480 Union Parishads. The lowest unit of local Government is the Union Parishad run by elected representatives. Districts are the main administrative units. The civil servants carry out the executive responsibilities of these administrative units. 31. The women can directly participate in all elections at the national level and local level Government. As equity measure, the Constitution of Bangladesh contains provision for quota of women in the national and local Government representations.
The reserved seats for women in the Parliament were increased from 30 to 45 in 2006 and they are elected by the Parliament Members of the general seats. In 1997, one-third of the local Government seats of members/councillors were reserved for women who would be elected by the direct vote of the people. This has become a milestone for women’s participation in the political empowerment process. 10-28851 19 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 32. At the second tier of local elected bodies, Upazila Parishads, one of the two elected Vice Chairman has to be a woman. Accordingly, 475 women have been elected as Vice Chairman out of 1,936 women who contested during elections held in January 2009. 33.
The newly elected Government in January 2009 led by a woman Prime Minister has appointed five women to the cabinet (three as full ministers and two as state ministers) responsible for key portfolios such as agriculture, home affairs, foreign affairs, women and children affairs, and labour and employment. The Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament is also a woman (former Prime Minister). For the first time, a woman has been appointed as the Deputy Leader of the House in Parliament and a woman MP has been appointed as the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on MoWCA. 34. An increasing number of women voters have participated in successive elections with 50. 87 percent in 2008 as compared to 48. 2 percent in 2001. 35.
As per Local Government (City Corporation) Ordinance 2008, under section 5, sub-section (2), in each City Corporation, one third of the total number of Councillor posts is reserved for women. 36. As per Local Government (Pourashava/district head quarters) Ordinance 2008, under section 7, sub-section (1), in each Pourashava, one third of the total number of Councillor posts is reserved for women. Legal Structure The Supreme Court of Bangladesh comprises of the Appellate Division and the High Court Division. In addition to the Supreme Court there are subordinate Courts as envisaged under the Constitution. 2. General Framework for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights C. Acceptance of International Human Rights Norms 37.
As reported earlier, Bangladesh is party to a number of international human rights treaties that make it obligatory to ensure the rights to equality before law and to equal protection of the law, as well as the right to personal liberty and security, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, and to an effective remedy in case of violation of any of these rights. These rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of Bangladesh as Fundamental Human Rights. During this reporting period, Bangladesh has continued to demonstrate its seriousness regarding the issue of human rights promotion and protection. 20 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006 and its Optional Protocol reflects the commitment of Bangladesh in fulfilling its international obligations as State Party. 38.
According to Article 27 (Bangladesh Constitution) “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law”; Article 28 (1), “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only for religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”; and Article 28 (2), “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and of public life”. Article 31 provides right to be treated in accordance with law. Furthermore, Part III of the Constitution contains right to life and personal liberty (Article 32), right to freedom of thought, conscience and speech (Article 39) that are equally applicable for women. Fundamental Principles of State Policy contained in Part II of the Constitution also provides in Article 10, Participation of Women in National Life to the following effect – “Steps shall be taken to ensure participation of women in all spheres of national life”. D.
Legal Framework for the Protection of Human Rights at the National Level 39. The Constitution of Bangladesh contains fundamental human rights in Part – III. All existing laws inconsistent with provisions of this Part, shall to the extant of such inconsistency become void. The State shall not make any law inconsistent with any provisions of this Part, and any law so made, shall to the extant of such inconsistency, be void. 40. Article 1. 2 (1) provides that High Court Division on the application of any person aggrieved, may give such direction and or order as may be appropriate for enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution. 41.
In addition, there are specific legislations for protection to women and ensuring non discriminatory treatment towards them and upholding their rights such as Prevention of Quietly to Women and Children Act, Acid Control Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act. 42. Among the new laws introduced during the reporting period is the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2009 enacted by the Parliament amending Section 5 of the Citizenship Law of 1951 to give a Bangladeshi woman the right to transmit her citizenship to her children. 43. The revised Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 provides for equal pay for equal work, work friendly environment, maternity leave, redress against harassment at the workplace etc. 0-28851 21 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 44. Draft of a new law on Prevention of Domestic Violence as The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Law, 2009 is nearing completion. 45. The National Machinery for Women’s Advancement includes the National Council for Women and Child Development (NCWCD), WIDFPs, Women Development Implementation and Evaluation Committee, District and Upazila WID Coordination Committees. 46. Progress in the area of gender governance is significant. There is an increasing awareness about the need to integrate gender concerns into the sector policy framework and various initiatives are being undertaken at various levels and sectors.
All the sectors and Ministries are responsible for addressing WID issues. There are increased gender capacities among officials. Highlights of some of the changes in gender governance are discussed below. National Council for Women’s Development and National Policy for Women’s Advancement 47. National Council for Women’s Development (NCWD) was established in 1995 consisting of 49 members including Ministers and Secretaries, representatives of civil society, women’s organizations, with Honourable Prime Minister as the Chair. Government has adopted National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA) within the framework of the CEDAW and as a follow-up to the Beijing Conference on Women.
The policy goal is to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women by empowering them with abilities to be equal partners of men in the development process. Until recently there were two separate Councils – NCWD for women and NCCD for children – that have been merged to form NCWCD. Ministry of Women and Children Affairs 48. Over the years, MoWCA has evolved and has emerged as an important lead institution in gender governance. MoWCA and its implementing agencies have been implementing policies and programs and acting as the focal point and catalyst for actions on issues of women’s equality and for developing and promoting comprehensive and consistent responses to the needs and priorities of women in activities of all Government agencies. E.
Framework for Promotion of Human Rights at the National Level 49. In case of violation of fundamental human rights, aggrieved person may seek shelter of law by invoking writ jurisdiction under Article 102 of the Constitution before the High Court Division of Supreme Court of Bangladesh. There are 22 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 specific legislation for protection of women and there is scope to file cases under those legislation before the Police of by file complaint case before the Magistrate. 50. National Human Rights Commission Act, 2009 authorizes the setting up of a Human Rights Commission, constituted by seven members, of whom at least one will be a woman and one will be from a minority community.
The Commission is mandated to investigate violations of human rights and can make recommendations to the Government for submission of reports on human rights violations. 51. Women’s participation in the formal labour market continues to increase as a result of changes in economic expansion, rural livelihood patterns and rural-tourban migration. 52. Inclusion of mother’s name with that of father is mandatory for primary school applications, documents, certificates, passports etc. 53. Ministry of Education has allowed the use of mother’s name for the purposes of registering a student for public examination such as SSC and HSC. Cooperation with the Civil Society 54. Consultation and active collaboration between the Government and non-Government organizations is a continued process.
The Government has developed strong linkages with the broader civil society through a process of continuous consultation. Representatives of women’s organizations and eminent women activists, writers, and researchers are part of the National Machinery such as the NCWCD. F. Reporting Process at the National Level 55. In August 2007, MoWCA convened a Roundtable Discussion on CEDAW reporting process and preparation. This activity was followed in April 2008 by circulating a reporting format to WID Focal Points (WIDFPs) to report on the implementation status on the concluding observations made by the UN CEDAW Committee in July 2004 on the earlier submission by Bangladesh (i. e. Fifth Periodic report of December 2002) as well as reporting on the 16 Articles. 56.
Subsequently, in May 2008, a working group of eight MoWCA officials was formed to coordinate the process of information collection and report preparation. Since women development is a cross-cutting issue, WID Focal Points mechanism was used as a vehicle for collecting relevant information and sharing multisectoral issues at inter-ministerial level and achievements in the area of Women’s Advancement relevant for CEDAW reporting. 10-28851 23 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 57. A preliminary Draft Report was prepared in December 2008 that highlighted the requirement of further information related to progress status that GoB made and the difficulties that GoB encountered to implement the CEDAW commitments.
The highlights of this preliminary Draft Report was first shared in the inter-ministerial WID Focal Points meeting on 6 May 2009, and based on information received from several Ministries, a second draft report was prepared in June 2009. 58. The need to provide further information was also discussed at the meeting of the Associate WID Focal Points on 15 June 2009. 59. A stakeholder’s consultation meeting was organized on 16 September 2009 with representatives of GoB (WID Focal Points), NGOs and civil society to share the revised reporting structure and to collect further information, where the State Minister, MoWCA was present. 60. On 22 October 2009, a Divisional Consultation Meeting was held at Khulna followed by another at Sylhet on 4 November 2009 to collect sub-national level information.
The participants included representatives from Government agencies, locally elected women representatives, NGOs, civil society, professional bodies (lawyers, doctors, journalists), ethnic minority etc. 61. A third Draft of the Report was prepared in October 2009 with inputs received from the various meetings and consultations. The salient features of this version was shared with relevant stakeholders at a final national consultation meeting in Dhaka on 5 November 2009 for further refinement of the report through additional inputs of relevant GOs, LGIs, CSOs including NGOs, women’s organizations, key women leaders, gender advocates/activists etc. where the State Minister, MoWCA was present. Subsequently in December 2009, MoWCA finalized the report for submission. 3. Information on Non-Discrimination and Equality and Effective Remedies 62.
A new law Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2009 has been passed by the Parliament amending Section 5 of the Citizenship Law of 1951 to give a Bangladeshi woman the right to transmit her citizenship to her children. 63. The revised Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 provides for equal pay for equal work, work friendly environment, maternity leave, redress against harassment at the workplace etc. 64. Draft of a new legislation on Prevention of Domestic Violence as The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Law, 2009 is nearing completion. 24 10-28851 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 65. The Government has taken a positive step in directing that the mother’s name be included in all official documents. In 2009, the High Court ruled that the mother’s name be inserted in school admission forms, either alone or with that of the father. Section II: Convention-specific Document
Section II of the Report contains the Convention-specific document. 1. Implementation of Concluding Observations on Fifth Periodic Report 66. This sub-section of the Report provides information on the measures adopted for implementation of concluding observations (particularly ‘concerns’ and ‘recommendations’) to the Fifth Periodic Report and explanations for the nonimplementation or difficulties encountered. 67. Observation 18: The Committee urges the State Party to expedite the decision on withdrawal of the remaining reservations to the Convention within a concrete timeframe. 68. Withdrawal of the reservations relating to article 2 and article 16 (1) (c) is under consideration.
Despite the reservations. the Government has taken several positive steps that may be considered to be inconformity with withdrawal of the reservations. NSAPR II (Steps towards Change) 8 specifically mentions policy agenda related actions for 2009-2011 that include among others, withdrawal of reservations and full ratification of CEDAW. 69. Observation 20: The Committee requests that the definition of discrimination against women be brought into conformity with article 1 of the Convention, and in particular that the State party’s responsibility to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women be extended to discrimination perpetrated by private actors. 70.
The definition of discrimination against women as laid down in article 1 of CEDAW is well reflected in the Constitution of Bangladesh. According to Article 27 (Bangladesh Constitution) “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law”; Article 28 (1), “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only for religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”; and Article 28 (2), “Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and of public life”. Article 31 provides the right to be treated in 8 GED, Planning Commission, August 2009, Policy Matrix 14: Social Inclusion and Empowerment – (a) Women’s Advancement and Rights 0-28851 25 CEDAW/C/BGD/6-7 accordance with law. Furthermore, Part III of the Constitution contains all fundamental rights including right to life and personal liberty (Article 32), right to freedom of thought, conscience and speech (Article 39) that are equally applicable for women. Fundamental Principles of State Policy contained in Part II of the Constitution also provides in Article 10, participation of women in national life to the following effect – steps shall be taken to ensure participation of women in all spheres of national life. 71. Reflection of all these Articles is considered in the formulation of related laws in Bangladesh. 72.
Observation 22: The Committee calls upon the State party to incorporate without delay the provisions of the Convention into its domestic law and requests the State party to ensure that the provision of the Convention be fully reflected in the Constitution and all legislation

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