'Women’s empowerment also means increasing women’s production capacity and more participation of females in the labour force and income generating professions'
Experts said that it is time to analyze how the budget allocation for women have been effective in furthering women’s’ causes.
Speaking at a post-budget discussion on Sunday on “Gender Sensitivity in FY2018-19 National Budget” held at Bangladesh Mahila Parishad office, experts also stressed that the allocation for women in the national budget has not increased in comparison to the overall rise of allocations in other sectors in the budget.
Prioritizing women’s’ development, Bangladesh has seen the highest allocation in its history in gender budgets in the budget FY2018-19 with Finance Minister AMA Muhith on June 7 proposing Tk1,37,742 crore for women’s development, which is 5.43% of GDP and 29.65% of the total budget.
This allocation was proposed for 43 ministries and divisions. Women’s advancement through access to education, health, the labour market, employment, and social protection have been prioritized.
As the keynote speaker, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Senior Research Fellow Dr Nazneen Ahmed said the core agenda of gender allocation in the budget is for women empowerment and elevating the status of women in society.
“However, if we analyze the ministries where gender budget is involved, we can see that empowerment has only been focused on the economic capacity although raising women’s social status is equally important,” she pointed out.
Women’s empowerment also means increasing women’s production capacity and more participation of females in the labour force and income generating professions, she added.
The keynote speaker also requested the authorities to clearly define what “women friendly measures” means at the discussion.
Associate Professor of the Economics Department, Dhaka University, Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha said that it is important to start building new labour markets and stop focusing on the RMG sector in order for women to start building their capacity.
Speaking on money allocated for children, Director of Child Rights Governance and Child Protection, Save the Children, Laila Khandaker said this fiscal year’s budget have some positive sides for children but the allocation is not sufficient enough to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Bangladesh Mohila Parishad President Ayesha Khanom said that is it a positive sign that 43 ministries are involved in implementing the gender budget as opposed to the four previously, but expressed concern over the utilization process adding: “Despite the allocation the budget is not being utilized properly because of a lack of accountability.”
All experts stressed on eliminating gender discrimination in opportunities provided to make the budget effective.