Unpaid care work in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of two focus countries in the unpaid care portion of the Sida funded IDS Participation and Gender Justice programme 'Connecting local voices to global arenas for equality and rights'.

The work in Bangladesh is aiming to:

  • Develop policy asks on unpaid care in Bangladesh
  • Build partnerships around these policy asks
  • Advocate for these policy asks at different forums

The work is being done in partnership between:

  • IDS
  • The SMERU Institute, Indonesia
  • In Bangladesh:
    • ActionAid: extreme poor women in collectives in North Bengal
    • Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics

The work involves research, partnership building, and advocacy/awareness raising. In particular:

  • High-level engagements have enabled the inclusion of unpaid care work within the National Action Plan for the Women’s Development Policy.
  • The Centre for Gender and Social Transformation at BRAC Development Institute (BDI) has been involved with a large national campaign with a range of women’s groups and others actors to improve recognition of women’s contributions to national development progress.
  • Primary field research on unpaid care work with ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB) has been undertaken, involving the following:
    • As part of a project to support low-income women’s social and economic empowerment and right to decent work in Bangladesh, BDI in collaboration with AAB will assess women’s unpaid care work.
    • The research will be undertaken in Fulsori upazila under Gaibandha district and Sadar upazila under Lalmonirhat district in North Bengal.
    • Time diaries will be used as participatory tool with women and men to keep a record of their time-use and gain an understanding of how gender roles play out.  
    • Participants will include both men and women of same family who are members of the women’s collectives of ActionAid’s ongoing projects, as well as men and women not part of AAB collectives.
  • Time use studies
  • Inception scoping and literature reviews

A plan is being developed to conduct a photographic competition of men doing care work.

Latest updates

01.02.16Women do unpaid work five times more than men

A study, by ActionAid Bangladesh, shows that women spend five times more time on unpaid household chores than men and that this work remains unrecognised both at family and national levels. The 'Time Use of Adult Women and Men in Rural North: Pattern and Trend' study surveyed people in the rural north of the country.

01.02.16Involve fathers in childcare

This opinion article by Laila Khondkar, Director of Child Protection, Save the Children Bangladesh, looks at the State of the World's Fathers report and highlights the importance of engaging men in caregiving. She argues that more needs to be done in terms of public policies and discourses.

The Institute of Development Studies has published a story of influence about its work to make women's unpaid care work more visible in development policy and practice, working with partners in Asia and in international civil society and policy spaces. 

Gender Equality in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has recently made significant progress on gender equality. New legislation has been introduced, including laws on violence against women, equal pay, maternity leave and parliamentary quotas.Between 2004 and 2007 the female literacy rate increased from 46% to 54%. However, gender gaps remain in employment and Bangladesh remains one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with high rates of poverty and severe vulnerability to floods and cyclones.

The Committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) most recently examined Bangladesh in 2011. The committee noted that gender parity had been achieved in primary and secondary school enrolment, but it also noted the high drop out rates of girls from school and the negative impact of early marriage. It commented that despite the introduction of new gender equality legislation, laws and provisions remain (including in relation to marriage, divorce, nationality, guardianship and custodial rights) which deny women equal rights with men, and deep-rooted gender stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes perpetuate discrimination against women and girls. There is also a persistent problem with violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, rape, dowry-related and workplace sexual harassment.

In 2012 Bangladesh was ranked 63rd out of 86 in the Social Institutions and Gender Index, and 114 out of 154 countries in the Social Watch Gender Equity Index.


OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) 2012: http://genderindex.org/country/bangladesh

Social Watch Gender Equity Index: http://www.socialwatch.org/taxonomy/term/527

SDC country factsheet on Bangladesh: http://www.sdc-gender-development.net/en/Home/Regions

Reports for Bangladesh considered by the CEDAW Committee at its 48th session (2011): http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/cedaws48.htm