Increasing women labour force participation to 45% by 2020 will help Bangladesh enhance its GDP by 1 percentage point, says World Bank.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistic (BBS) on Labour Force Survey Bangladesh 2013, at the latest only 33.5% women worked in productive sector while men were 81.7%.
From 1999 to 2013, the increase in female participation in the labour force was remarkable with almost 190% rise in the 20-29 age group while 100% growth in 30-39 and 40-49 age groups.
“Despite rise in the number of women joining the labour force, the number of working women is still much lower than their male counterparts,” said the WB in Bangladesh Development Update May 2017 released on Sunday.
World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan was present at the report launching programme.
“If Bangladesh can raise the female labour force participation rate to 45% by 2020, it will be able to maintain economic growth by 1% above trend through 2020,” it added.
Barriers to women labour force participation are asymmetric household responsibility, human capital deficiency and open discrimination, said WB lead economist Zahid Hussain.
74% women, who responded to the research, said they do not participate in job due to household responsibility.
Zahid stressed right education and vocational training demanded by job markets.
To increase female participation, he called for steps to reduce the prevalence of early marriage, strengthen girls’ early orientation to career development, ensure gender equity in labour legalisation and foster non-discriminatory workplace environments.
The global lender, however, has projected 6.4% and 6.8% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth between 2017 and 2018.
The growth will be sustained at 6.8% in 2017 fiscal year. The country’s economy is performing well in all the indicators except export, remittance and imports compared to the previous fiscal year, said Zahid.
The risks on the domestic side include further deterioration in the financial and corporate sector stability, slippages in addressing fiscal reforms and political uncertainties in the run up to the 2019 general election, said Zahid.
Commenting on the reserves, Zahid said there is a satisfactory situation in the reserves but no scope of complacency as remittance has seen downtrend in recent times.
On the other hand, the World Bank raised question about the growth of capital machinery import as it does not match with the other indicators of the economy.
According to Bangladesh Bank data, in July-January of FY’17 capital machinery import has seen a 64.8% rise while overall machinery imports 33.6%.
Leather machinery has posted the highest growth by 184.5% followed by textile 52.1%. Pharmaceutical machinery import also rose by 37.7%.
Bangladesh economy remains stable in the face of global uncertainties and continues to reduce poverty, said the report.
By removing the barriers to female participation in the labour force and paving the way for investment and innovation, Bangladesh can boost growth considerably, it added.
In the policy recommendation for sustainable growth, the global lender suggested removing structural impediments to investment and innovation, global integration and ensuring corporate governance in the financial sector.