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Estimating Women’s Contribution to the Economy: The Case of Bangladesh 

Estimating Women’s Contribution to the Economy: The Case of Bangladesh

 

In Bangladesh a large part of economic activities undertaken by women including household chores, care and agriculture work remain unaccounted for since conventional measures such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) primarily considers goods and services produced for markets. This transmits wrong signals to policymakers whose allocative and distributional decisions are then influenced by this. Family members’ attitudes towards a woman who does not have an income are often discriminatory. This outlook also occasionally leads to violence.

In view of the above, CPD felt the need to capture, in value terms, the contribution that women are making to the economy. In doing so CPD partnered with a civil society organisation Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF). CPD Undertook time use survey with the help of a detailed questionnaire among 8,320 women and 5,320 men aged 15 years and above across Bangladesh.

The study is, thus far, the most comprehensive research on the subject in Bangladesh in terms of both coverage of population and rigour of estimation techniques and analyses.

The study contributed several new findings that have implications for the System of National Accounts (SNA). First, it shows that time spent on non-SNA activities by a female member of a household is about three times higher than that by a male household member. Second, the study estimates that the value of women’s unpaid non-SNA activities was equivalent to 76.8 per cent of Bangladesh’s GDP in FY2013-14 based on the replacement cost method and 87.2 per cent of GDP based on the willingness-to-accept method.

CPD organized a dialogue on 25th October 2014 to disseminate the findings of the study. Mr AHM Mustafa Kamal, Minister for Planning, Government of Bangladesh attended the dialogue as the chief guest. Officials from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) also attended among others. The Minister was highly motivated by the findings of the study and assured the audience that the government would take measures to estimate women’s unpaid activities. The issue was discussed in the National Parliament where the Minister mentioned about women’s contribution to the economy. BBS also took note of the findings and informed that they would start measuring women’s unaccounted work soon. CPD has published a monograph with the findings of the study and distributed the copy among policymakers, activists, researchers and media.