Women’s contribution to the economy must be recognized, speakers said
North South University (NSU) on Saturday arranged a webinar on the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the women of Bangladesh.
The webinar was organized by the department of economics, school of business and economics of NSU, and was streamed live on NSU’s official Facebook page as well as on Zoom, according to a press release.
Former president of FBCCI, founding chairman of Southeast Bank Limited & Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of NSU MA Kashem was present as the Chief Guest. BOT members Rehana Rahman and Yasmin Kamal were present as Special Guests.
Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director of CPD, Dr Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow at BIDS, Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, professor at DU, Nobonita Chowdhury, director of GJD, BRAC and writer Fariha Panni were among the distinguished speakers at the webinar.
Addressing the event, Chief guest MA Kashem said: “The effects of Covid-19 are currently not limited to health problems. Its adverse effects are also being felt in the economic and social sectors of the country. Research by various international organizations is predicting a recession.
“A United Nations study has found that Covid-19 has added new responsibilities to the scope of women's work, called unpaid service, even though a woman has to spend three times as much as a man… At the same time, women need to ensure a balance between work and housework. Their role and contribution to the economy must be recognized,” he added.
Rehana Rahman said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has more serious impact on women than it has on men globally. Women, both in the formal sector and informal sector, are facing challenges at workplace as well as home due to increased workload. Due to staying home most of the time, their field of social communication has become smaller, on the other hand, exercise, travel, etc. have decreased. As a result, they are facing two kinds of difficulties - physical and mental.”
Yasmin Kamal said: “The effects of the global Covid-19 epidemic are devastating. Lately we have seen from newspapers and media that its impact on women at all levels is much greater. In addition to, economic losses, domestic violence against women is on the rise. Even child marriage has increased so much that it demands a special role of the authorities. We are seeing a negative impact on girls' education, especially in rural areas. Responsibility has also increased for those who are employed.
“The negative effects of Covid's influence on women's lives and livelihoods are far-reaching and of special importance. We all need vision and cooperation so that this difference between men and women does not increase,” she added.
Dr Fahmida Khatun said: “During the pandemic, many women who were working in the formal sector lost their jobs and physical & mental abuse on women have increased. Women entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises have lost capital due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused difficulties for running their organizations and they had to laid off their workers. It is necessary for the government to take various incentive measures for women to solve all these problems.”
Dr Nazneen Ahmed said: “More than 100,000 garment workers have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The environment in which women workers live is very inhumane, so they have various health problems. In order to solve all these problems, the concerned authorities must take necessary initiatives to improve the working environment for women and provide job security.”
Nobonita Chowdhury said: “Women are lagging behind in the information technology sector. Especially when we look at the statistics of mobile users, it is seen that the number of female users is much less than half of the total users. Another statistic shows that a man is also deciding whether a woman in a family can use a mobile phone. Now the hotline number has been arranged at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic so that no one is abused, but how can women apply for help if they do not have a mobile.” He also said that women who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and stayed at home are being tortured more.”