While assessing the country's performance on socio-economic parameters, people tend to take extreme approaches; either they are too critical of the failings or exult at positive trends as though going gaga about it! Hardly ever a balanced view is taken.
In the process, it is not unusual to across an overlapping of perspectives as if progress in one area is cancelled out by the lagging behind in another sphere. This shouldn't be the case; for, success stands out in its own right to be perked up by, while pitfalls, though despairing, hold their own lessons. The best way to benefit by comparative evaluations of a country's rankings on various indices, is for it to draw a balance sheet and build on the positives and improve upon the shortfalls.
Admittedly, the nation stands to benefit from the plethora of studies emanating from both international and national research bodies/think tanks that makes in-depth analyses of the country situation in all its major aspects. They apply their own tools, measures, indicators; in short methodologies.
There are obviously quantitative and paradigm-centric differences between the researches undertaken by national think tanks and the international ones, but there needs not be any qualitative difference in their output. The potential efficacy between the two types of appraisal lies in the national one being focused and targeted while that of international origin being comparative ranking the countries on a global basis.
That said, let's rejoice in the good tiding for Bangladesh from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report. Released as recently as on November 02, it revealed that Bangladesh leads South Asia in terms of gender equality. Actually, Bangladesh 'cementing' its position in WEF rankings as the top performing country in South Asia on gender issues means much more by way of leapfrogging. Bangladesh has climbed to NO.47 on the global list from last year's ranking of 72, up by 25 places just in a matter of year.
The pattern of gender gaps is skewed on two levels: First, the high proportion of women at the top of the political ladder is contrasted by the majority of women having no economic, social or decision-making right and power. Secondly, the proportion of women working in the readymade garments sector is high-though they suffer wage discrimination and lack of opportunities for promotion. Yet their representation and performance across the rest of the key economic sectors are nothing to write home about. They are mostly engaged in low-paid and low-skilled jobs.
High rates of child marriage, early child births are compounded by the gaps in access to health. According to Action Aid Bangladesh, women are lagging behind in education and literacy, 'where enrollment does not reflect the real scenario.'
The cutback on secondary and higher education budget seems unjustified vis-à-vis the BBS statistics that two out of every five girls aged between 15 and 19 drop out of school. That is when they are married off.
Lack of security due to sexual harassment and incidents of violence against women perpetrated with impunity constitute worst forms of gender discrimination conceivable.
In fine, the average women earn about 60 per cent of what men do for the same amount of work. One magic bullet for recognising their signal contribution to nation-building can be through monetizing women's huge quantum of unpaid, farming and household works, and reflecting them in GDP terms.
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