It is our retrograde mentality that needs to change

When it comes to establishing anything close to a gender-equal society in Bangladesh, we have plenty of work that is left to be done.

However, while we can and must acknowledge that ensuring safety for and empowering women remain formidable challenges for us, it should not stop us from also acknowledging the progress, no matter how minute, that has been made in recent times.

To that end, USAID’s Nobo Jatra project, in partnership with World Vision Bangladesh, conducted a survey among close to 10,000 married couples across several areas in the southwestern region of Bangladesh, and found through the study notable progress that was made across the board over a five-year period.

The study, titled “Male engagement for gender equality: Sustained impact and changes in southwest Bangladesh,” suggests that women had more independence in 2019 compared to 2015, and that men have been becoming more involved in doing housework. While this is just one study conducted, and by no means should be taken as a representation of the entire population of Bangladesh, it still provides some amount of encouragement.

We have said, time and time again, that above all else, it is our retrograde mentality that needs to change.We would like to see men in the rural areas of the country understand that women’s autonomy and independence must be respected, and that these basic rights are not negotiable. It would be good to see even more men become active in household duties, as it sends a positive message, and provides hope that, slowly but steadily, women may be able to live in Bangladesh without constantly being put in second place.

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