Since the advent of patriarchy, women have been relegated to a subordinate and secondary position in society. They have at the same time been deprived of the socio-economic power they exercised in a matriarchal social order. They have so long been subjected to subservience and dependence on men in almost all spheres of life including the economy. It has now proved to be very difficult to free women from the shackle of deprivation under male chauvinism. This economic backwardness of half of the population tremendously retards the progress of human civilisation and holds society back. Though the indispensability of women’s emancipation is now universally recognised for ensuring the overall progress of human race, achievement in this respect is still very little.
However, against the backdrop of this dull scenario, women in Bangladesh are advancing slowly but steadily in diverse fields of social life. It is particularly conspicuous in the fields of education and economy. Girls have already outnumbered boys in primary and secondary levels of education. They are also outshining boys in their overall performance. And increasing numbers of women are coming forward to take up teaching profession at the basic levels of education.Women have also made noticeable progress in the economic life of society. Traditionally, women in rural areas had been playing a very significant role in the country’s agricultural sector since time immemorial, though without any formal recognition. However, an important change is discernible in the employment pattern of women; due to their increasing participation in other sectors of the economy, women’s employment in agriculture has started experiencing a huge fall. This is a good sign. Women constitute about eighty per cent of the workforce in the readymade garment sector that earns the highest amount of foreign exchange for the country.
The number of female entrepreneurs in the formal sector of the economy is also increasing conspicuously. They are showing excellence in technology business as well. Women’s participation in the banking sector is on a steady rise. And women in increasing numbers are also taking part in law enforcement agencies and defence services.
Participation of growing numbers of women in the country’s economy not only leads to women’s empowerment but also to the vibrant growth of the national economy. But this is just the beginning. Women must come forward in far greater numbers to take part in economic activities. Men should extend a helping hand and play a catalytic role in the socio-economic advancement of women.