Women’s labour participation in economy largely unaccounted

Wahida Zaman Shithi
Wednesday, May 16th, 2018


 

56.9pc women not in education, employment, training

 

Nearly three-fifth of working-age women population in the country is not involved in education, employment and training (NEET). Referring to the facts provided by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), country’s leading policy think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) recently said 56.9 percent women of the age group of 15-yr to 65-yr are not there in education, employment and training. It’s a matter of great concern that how the potentials of women in the society is not being tapped. But at the same time we’ve a huge opportunity before us if we really like to utilize this potentiality.

 

CPD revealed the statistics during a dialogue on ‘Promoting Female in Bangladesh for Realising Demographic Dividends’ held at a city hotel last week. According to the think tank’s findings, women’s contribution to the country’s GDP is only 20 percent as 77 to 87 percent of their labour participation in economy and GDP remains unaccounted.

 

Though the trend in female labour force participation (FLFP) in Bangladesh is increasing and experiencing some ups and downs in the graph, the participation in 2016-17 with the percentage of 36.3 is significantly lower than that of male which is 80.5 per cent, according to the CPD findings.

 

“Between 2013 and 2016-17, female employment in industrial sector has come down by about 850000,” said the study mentioning it as a disquieting trend. “Move towards formalisation remains a major challenge in the context of FLFP in Bangladesh,” said CPD’s Distinguished Fellow Mustafizur Rahman pointing out that 85.1 percent of the total employed people in 2016-17 were in informal employment. While male’s share in informal employment is 82.1 percent, it is even higher (91.8 percent) in the case of women.

 

About another disquieting trend, Mustafizur Rahman said male’s average real wage declined for by 1.9 percent and that of female by 3.8 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17, while the national real average wages fell by 2.5 percent. “Occupational segregation is on the rise in rural areas as new jobs created in rural areas are being taken more by men,” he added.

 

Mentioning that 83 percent of female workers who received training in some form participate in the labour force while the participation of trained women by government is low, Rahman said adding that FLFP tends to rise for women with education beyond higher secondary level as education is the single most important determinant of FLFP. In professions, he said, women generally do not go to the top level because of glass ceiling caused by discrimination.

 

“If within 5 years, female labour force participation rise by 11pc on average, this would add one percentage point each year to the Bangladesh GDP,” he said claiming that Bangladesh could potentially increase its FLFP up to 30 percentage points and can move towards reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend and an SDG-aligned inclusive development.

 

Dr Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary of General Economics Division (GED) of Bangladesh Planning Commission, who was also present at the programme, considered the high percentage of women remaining in NEET category as a big wastage of human resource. He said it needs to be looked carefully to make them worthy of labour force and worthy of market while strategies, policies and plans are needed to fulfill the no. 8 target of SDGs.

 

The Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) indicator 8 calls for ensuring sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries. It sets target to achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors and promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalisation and growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services. It has the mandate of achieving, by 2030, full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

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