Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2004:20: Nature and impact of women's participation in economic activities in rural Bangladesh: insights from household surveys

Mahabub Hossain , Manik Lal Bose and Alia Ahmad
Additional contact information
Mahabub Hossain: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Postal: Social Sciences Division, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Manila, Philippines
Manik Lal Bose: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Postal: Social Sciences Division, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Manila, Philippines
Alia Ahmad: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Based on household-level data collected in 1987 and 2000 this paper first depicts the patterns and trends in women´s work and secondly, analyses the factors that work behind gender division of labour in rural Bangladesh. An empowerment index is developed from the data on household decision-making in different spheres, and its relationship with women´s work is then explored. The persistent gender division of labour in rural Bangladesh has been found to be associated with both economic factors - wage rates, access to production factors like land, micro credit, infrastructure) and socio-cultural factors - norms and customs regarding women´s mobility and gender role in production and reproduction. Economic activities within the household have been found to have weak impact on empowerment. Two policy implications emerge from the study: 1. Promotion of female education to enable women to take part in market activities in the non-agricultural sector where gender disparity in earnings is less. 2. Investment in infrastructure that can facilitate women´s mobility outside the household as well as can reduce the burden of domestic work.

Keywords: ender division of labour; empowerment

JEL-codes: J16; J22

25 pages, September 14, 2004

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