BANGLADESH: Women do household work of Tk10lakh 37,000 crore a year

Sunday 26 October 2014

Date: 26 October 2014

Source: Prothom Alo

Type: News

Keywords: Women’s rights

The monetary worth of women’s household work in Bangladesh is equal to 76.8% of last fiscal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That equals a total of 10lakh 37,506 crore taka.

Unpaid and unrecognised household work of women constitutes cooking, keeping the home clean, caring for the family members and tending to their needs. They monetary value of this work has been determined by calculating how much it would cost to get an outside person to do the work. This is the replacement cost method. However, as the women do not receive wages for this work, it is not reflected in the GDP estimation.

Another method of research, willingness to accept method, estimates the value of such unrecognised work to constitute 87.2% of the Bangladesh’s GDP. This totals 11lakh 7802 crore taka.

This was revealed in a study conducted by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). The organisation yesterday, Saturday, organised a dialogue on the findings of the research, ’Estimating Women’s Contribution to the Economy: the Case of Bangladesh.’

The dialogue was chaired by Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD, at a hotel in the city. Present at the programme were Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, economists, women leaders, NGO personalities and others.

The study, commissioned by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), aims to raise the status of women in society by highlighting their unaccounted for contribution to the economy.

The research was conducted by Fahmida Khatun, research director of CPD; research fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan; and research associate Shaheda Parveen.

Findings: The study says the time spent by a woman on unpaid activities is about three times higher than that of a male person. She spends an average 7.7 hours of such work every day. She undertakes 12.1 unpaid chores daily.

The study indicated that three-fourths of the women engaged in unpaid chores were unwilling to take up employment where they would receive wages. Sixty percent of these women unwilling to work for wages say that their families did not want them to work outside. Other reasons for them not wanting to work outside were that they wanted to give more time to the household, there was no one else to take care of the family members, they could not find suitable work, ill health, they didn’t need they money and involvement in family business.

The study showed that 40% of the women would have to consult with the family before spending their wages, while 51.7% could spend their wages on their own accord. According to the study, 89% of the women in Bangladesh worked the non-formal sector where they did not receive wages.

The study presented recommendations for the recognition of women’s contribution. These were, including women’s work in GDP calculation, specific measures to reduce household chores and increasing women’s wages.

The study was based on a comprehensive survey of 13,640 individuals aged 15 years and above. Of these 8,320 are female and 5,320 are male residing in 5,670 households across 64 districts. The household survey was conducted during March-May 2014.

Discussion: During discussions, the planning minister said, "My mother worked hard to make me into an accountant. But her contribution has not been recognised. A mother’s contribution is not included in the GDP." He said that no economic planning would be successful without taking women into consideration. This matter would be included in the seventh five-year plan.

AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former finance adviser of the caretaker government, said that women’s contribution to the economy was extremely under-valued. He said attention must be paid to bringing women into institutionalised employment. This calls for priority to be placed on education, he said.

Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya said that the women who did earn, did not have the right to spend. They would have to discuss with their husbands or other family members before spending. There was also a lack of balance which left women exhausted after having to work outside and at home. Women were also given power paid jobs such as office receptionists or telephone operators.

Also speaking at the meeting were Mahila Parishad president Ayesha Khanam; CPD executive director Mustafizur Rahman; former chairman of the UN CEDAW committee Salma Khan; Brac director Faustina Pereira, and others.###

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