The liquidity support and fiscal stimulus packages rolled out for COVID-19 pandemic can not address special needs of women as they are well targeted in the packages, a CPD dialogue observed on Thursday.
Most women are unaware of the liquidity support, while some are reluctant to apply for loans despite being aware.Due to the economic downturn and the uncertainty regarding the future, women need cash handouts more than loans. Fiscal measures will be more effective in easing the burden of the pandemic on women than monetary measures, speakers said.
These observations emerged at the CPD’s virtual dialogue titled “Socio-Economic Recovery Measures of the Government: How Much Women Have Benefitted” held in partnership with UN Women.
CPD has recently undertaken a study on the abovementioned theme in collaboration with UN Women. The findings of the study were shared at the dialogue.
This study explores the gender dimension of the government’s COVID-19 policy measures and recommends policies for making the COVID-19 response work for women.
CPD’s Executive Director, Dr Fahmida Khatun made the keynote presentation during the virtual dialogue.
She presented some of the highlights from a rapid survey on women entrepreneurs’ access to the stimulus package.In this respect, she focused on a range of issues, such as providing training for women entrepreneurs and improving women’s access to finance.
She also pointed out that child marriage, burden of unpaid care and domestic work, and violence against women have increased during the pandemic. Commenting on the promotion of the incentive package, chief guest of the event, Planning Minister M A Mannan said all should work together to bring this information to the right people.
He mentioned the government recognises the challenges of women during the pandemic and is working towards improving their situation.
Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative, UN Women Bangladesh Country Office joined the dialogue as a Special Guest and focused on the global picture of women due to pandemic. She mentioned that globally, 47 million women and girls are forced into poverty because of COVID-19. She also added that all packages need to ensure adequate and transparent delivery for women.
Chairing the dialogue CPD’s Distinguished Fellow Prof Rounaq Jahan said though COVID-19 added disadvantages for women, a plan of action for specific groups to support in specific areas for women entrepreneurs need to be prepared.
A task force might be formed to monitor the progress of this work, she suggested.
MSMEs are in the informal financial system and their issues cannot be solved unless they are taken to the formal banking or financial channel, said Dr Lila Rashid, former executive director of Bangladesh Bank.
Selim R F Hussain, BRAC Bank CEO and managing director stated that banks should also focus on investing in non-financial advisory services for women entrepreneurs.
Shaheen Anam, executive director, ManusherJonno Foundation; Kaniz Almas, CEO & managing director, Persona; Dr Fauzia Moslem, president, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Vidiya Amrit Khan, director, Desh Group of Companies also took part in the virtual dialogue.