Preface: The contribution of industrial sector in the economy of Bangladesh is increasing on a gradual basis. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), contribution of broad-based industry to GDP in the financial year 2015-16 reached 32.48% in the FY 2016-17 and it rose up to slightly higher than 33% in FY 2017-18. Contribution of manufacturing sub-sector is the highest in the contribution of industry to GDP.
Taking note of the industrial sector as an important area of our economy, “Industrial Policy 2016” was formulated. This policy has laid emphasis on strengthening the coordinated attempt of the public and private sectors to develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Generally there has been a shift in economic activity away from large enterprises to small and medium enterprises across the globe in recent years. SMEs have an advantage over large enterprises in the sense that large organizations emphasize on mass production and products standardized goods. Today the contribution of heavy scale industries or large enterprises in employment generation is continuously declining and on the other hand the contribution of SMEs is rising. This is true for Bangladeshi economy too.
According to BBS’s survey of Manufacturing Industries, SMEs that have over 10 employees employ nearly 5 million workers; SMEs of manufacturing sector (with 10 or more workers) account for 35.5% of employment and 47% of gross value added in the industrial sector.
Photo credit: Asia Foundation
There are definitions of SMEs which vary from country to country. SMEs have been lucidly defined in the ‘Industrial Policy-2016.’ There exists no strong legal basis owing to absence of specific enactment. The SMEs are registered through the Companies Act- 1994. India has strong legal framework owing to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act 2006 (MSMED ACT, 2006/Source: International Journal of SME Development published by SME Foundation in December, 2016).
Attaining women’s empowerment through women’s entrepreneurship: “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” : Kofi Anan, Former UN Secretary General.
Women’s empowerment generally is defined in three dimensions. They are: 1. women’s empowerment in family, 2. economic empowerment of Women and 3. political empowerment.
Women’s empowerment in family: Empowerment, however, can be defined as a multi-dimensional social process that helps people in gaining confidence over their own lives. A woman who earns and reinvests 90% of her income in her family for the betterment of family but has very limited participation in terms of decision making, cannot be called as “empowered.” Even today many a number of women have no control over their own income, women are deprived, discriminated and often they become victims firstly from their family due to patriarchal mores of male dominance. That’s why to promote women’s empowerment, family has to play major role including its male members. And it is also necessary to establish equally rights, adopt uniform family code and promote gender sensitivity.
Women’s economic empowerment: It means women having control over decision related to their income as well as investments in Bangladesh. It is women and girls who are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. Often women and girls are not allowed to make decisions about their own income. Tradition and culture forbid them to leave their home and join the workforce. In their words, half of the population cannot contribute to their families and communities, economy and development. A great resource remains untapped. But women are an important part of the realities needed to timely overcome poverty. They play a key role in navigating their family and their community to a better life. Women’s participation in work is contaminated by patriarchal norms that limit women’s option for gainful employment.
Political Empowerment of Women: Women’s number in political parties may still have increased in quantitative and qualitative terms, women are largely excluded from the decision making process. Men typically dominate leadership position while women are given comparatively submissive roles in sectors like education, health, women and children etc. As a result, political activities remain mainly male dominated which further discourages women from engaging in active politics with significant absence of women from the key decision-making bodies of political parties. It is crystal clear that Bangladeshi politics indeed has women at surface level but the decision making process is still dominated by men.
( To be continued )