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BD GDP could rise by 40pc with wider participation of women: IMF

Published : Thursday, 20 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 50

Bangladesh economic output may rise by nearly 40 percent by closing the gender gap and duly accounting womens participation in the economy, according to estimate of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Sizable gaps in womens economic empowerment undermine growth and exacerbate climate vulnerability in Bangladesh," said IMF in an article published recently.

Per capita incomes in Bangladesh have risen seven-fold in the past three decades while poverty reduced to a fraction of former levels.

"Such progress has been driven in part by greater labour force participation of women, most notably in the garment industry, and has been accompanied by other meaningful improvements in womens empowerment," said the article jointly written by Jayendu De and Genet Zinabou.

"Our recent analysis, however, shows there are still large gaps between women and men. Notably, womens labour force participation is only half the rate of men."

Jayendu De is the IMF resident representative in Bangladesh while Genet Zinabou is an economist in IMF fiscal affairs department.

The article citing an IMFs previous research, said closing the men and women participation gap could increase Bangladeshs economic output by nearly 40 percent.

"Women remain less likely than men to receive tertiary education, and they face greater barriers in accessing financial services. Remedying both factors could raise the entire economys productivity."

The article said Bangladeshs extreme vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters makes the efforts to close gender gaps challenging.

"Climate shocks generally affect the already poor and vulnerable the most. This means that Bangladeshi women, who on average have fewer resources than men, are likely to be disproportionately impacted."

It highlights several factors that render women uniquely exposed to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Womens employment is highly concentrated in agriculture and informal work and climate change directly affects agricultural production. Informal workers are often particularly vulnerable to climate shocks as they lack social insurance programmes.

The article said both international and internal migration is important climate adaptation strategies. But these are availed mostly by men: men are 16 times more likely to be employed overseas than women, who tend to be primary caregivers for children and the elderly, leaving them less mobile and more likely to remain living in areas highly exposed to climate change.

Women carry the primary responsibility for collecting drinking water and cooking fuel. As warming temperatures, rising sea levels, deforestation and more frequent cyclones and droughts render these tasks more time-consuming, womens time poverty is expected to be exacerbated, the IMF warned.

Bangladesh has already recognised the need to integrate gender perspectives in its 2009 Climate Change Strategy. Following this, the government adopted the first Climate Change and Gender Action Plan 2013, which it updated in March 2024. Renewed efforts will be needed to ensure successful implementation of the plan.

"To this end, policymakers should capitalise as much as possible on synergies between womens empowerment, economic growth, and increased resilience to climate change."

The article said policies that support womens labour force participation deserve particular attention. These include increasing womens access to skills development and higher education, easing the pressure on women on unpaid care burdens by expanding affordable childcare and reducing informality.






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