People here in Bangladesh are still not familiar with the idea that household work and care work has monetary value, said Prof Mofizur Rahman of Dhaka University
Speakers at a webinar have said if women’s unpaid care work is recognized, it will not only dispel gender inequality but also help reduce violence against women as women will be empowered.
They were speaking at a webinar on unpaid care work, organized by Action Aid Bangladesh and hosted by Dhaka Tribune on Saturday.
Nobonita Chowdhury, director of Gender, Justice, and Diversity and Preventing Violence Against Women Initiative at BRAC, said women do about 65% works of rice milling, and processing is done, but their work is not recognized at all.
“People in this society tend to think that what women do at home does not have any monetary value and women are obligated to do care work and household chores. If we cannot break this vicious cycle we cannot free them from violence, child marriage, and injustice,” she said.
She also said elderly members of a family need extra care and most of the time the woman of the family has to take the responsibility.
“Old homes are portrayed as something bad on social media and the entertainment industry but these people need a place to be taken care of,” she said.
Meghna Guhathakurta, executive director of Research Initiatives, said women multitask, like teaching their children and cooking at the same time, but they do not really get any credit for it.
Reaz Ahmad, the executive editor of Dhaka Tribune, said addressing these issues will not only dispel gender disparity but also recognize the work women do for their family.
“Women and men both look after children and elderly members of a family but a woman’s contribution is not really recognized and deemed important,” he said.
ActionAid Power Project
Minara Begum, a beneficiary of ActionAid Power Project, a project that mobilizes and organizes rural women to raise awareness of and claim their rights as farmers and carers, said she never knew the work women do all day long at home has a value until she became a part of this project.
“My husband now helps me with cooking and many other household chores but it was not the case a few years back. We had meetings with our spouses under this project and made them understand that housework is not just women’s responsibility,” she said.
Adiba Anjum MP, member of Parliamentary Standing Committee of Ministry of Planning, said in many countries men and women do the housework themselves but here in Bangladesh even children are not taught to do their own work as their parents hire a maid for them if they can afford it.
She recommended opening more daycare services for women who work outside.
“The problem is that many parents do not trust the daycare services with their children,” she said.
Helal Uddin, South Asia Advocacy coordinator of ActionAid International, said the government needs to upgrade the section of the Eighth Five Year Plan where the unpaid care work issue has been addressed.
Prof Mofizur Rahman of Dhaka University said people here in Bangladesh are still not familiar with the idea that household work and care work has monetary value.
Tanim Ahmed, special correspondent of Dhaka Tribune, moderated the webinar.