AbstractIn this paper, I seek to identify which factorsaffect the Socio-Economic and gender inequality regarding the education ofgirls and boys, as well as of women and men, across two cohorts of marriedwomen in Bangladesh. In particular, I look at the relative importance of anindividual woman’s own educational background and those of her spouse and otherfamily members in shaping her attitudes toward gender equality in education.InequalityTisTlikeTanTepidemicTforTaTcountryTwhichTdestroysTaTcountry’sTdevelopmentTnotTonlyTforTaTgenerationTbutTalsoTforTaTlongTperiodTofTtime.TAmongTallTkindsTofTinequalitiesTgenderTinequalityTisTtheTextremeToneTasTitTaffectsTallTotherTsectors.
TAswomenThasTcontributionTinTallTsectors.TBringingTwomenTintoTtheTmainstreamTeconomicactivitiesTandTensuringTequalTopportunityTisToneTofTtheTmajorTtargetsTofTMillenniumTDevelopmentTGoalsTasTpursuedTbyTtheTgovernmentTofTBangladesh.IntroductionI aim to add to this body of work by looking atchanges in attitudes regarding some aspects of Socio-Economic and genderinequality due to education in Bangladesh during a period of rapid socialtransformation. This work is of particular significance for a number ofreasons. First while in developed countries with high-quality datasets therehave been many analyses of gender norms and attitudes, in developing countrieswith less high-quality data there have been relatively few studies on gendernorms, and those that have been conducted have been restricted to small samplesand to topics such as attitudes regarding reproductive decision-making, sexpreferences for children, and violence against women.
In addition, most of theresearch conducted in developing countries has focused on using attitudes asexplanatory variables for a number of outcomes, rather than as outcomevariables in their own right.Previous research on education and gender norms hasprimarily focused on the question of whether education is a liberalizinginfluence or a constraint on attitudes regarding gender equality. The resultsof these studies are, to say the least, equivocal (Kane 1995).
I situate myanalysis on changing attitudes regarding girl’s education within the overallcontext of educational expansion in Bangladesh, and the definitions of sexroles and expectations in the culture. Because I provide quantitative evidenceon the determinants of gender education norms in Bangladesh, my work alsocomplements the related earlier work by Schuler and colleagues, which involvedin-depth interviews and group discussions (see, e.g., Schuler et al. 2006 (andthe references therein)).
Background Bangladesh provides an interesting context for ananalysis of the changes in gender norms regarding education. The growth inaccess to education, and especially in access to secondary education for girls,may be Bangladesh’s most dramatic achievement in the last two decades. In thearea of female secondary education, Bangladesh stands out as a shining successstory among low-income countries, Bangladesh’s progress is especiallycommendable because the growth in female education took place within ademocratic regime, and started from a very low base. Figure1:Enrollment rates in EducationTable: 1 Gross enrollmentrates of boys and girls by level and region Primary (Grade 1-5) Lower Sec. (Grade 6-8) Secondary (Grade 9-10) Higher Secondary (11-12) Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Barisal 93.9 93.
6 55.4 58.9 45.8 58.1 44.7 35 Chittagong 83.
5 84.5 48.1 58.
2 37.2 49.9 34.6 32.
8 Dhaka 86.1 84.5 52.7 58.
4 62.2 66.6 32.
3 33.3 Khulna 96.1 99.5 60.
7 66.9 58.3 71.
5 39.3 36.2 Rajshahi 85.
5 91.5 53.5 70.3 50.
3 57.5 38.2 33.4 Sylhet 83.2 85.7 57.
1 36.3 39.7 58 29.1 28.5 Source: BANBEIS (Government ofBangladesh), 2015/016The growth in education and theaccompanying social changes have probably been the most important recentdevelopments in Bangladesh, but there are others as well. Starting from a verylow base of 9%, female labor force participation picked up to over 22% duringthe years 1993?2003. While, as indicated, the female labor participation hasincreased, the female-male gap in labor force participation (LFP) has alsoincreased in relative terms over the past few decades: In 1990 the LFP was 61.7% forfemales and 88.
4 for males, but by 2011 it had decreased to 57.2% for femalesand 84.3% for males (WDI 2013). Evocative images of hundreds of young girlswalking every morning to the garment factories have been etched into thepopular imagination as a metaphor for progress.
Infant mortality has declinedfaster in Bangladesh than in any other country in South Asia. The totalfertility rate today is less than one-third of the rate four decades ago,having declined from about 6.9 in 1971 to about 2.2 in 2011 (WDI 2013). Meanwhile,the microcredit revolution sweeping the countryside has given women visibilityand greater status. Better water and sanitation facilities have reduced thedrudgery experienced by mothers, who now have time for other activities.
Aninformation and communication boom has resulted from the widespreadavailability of radios, televisions, and mobile phones. The expansion of ruralroads and of electrification have enabled many people to find work beyondtraditional low-productivity cottage industries. The availability of moresecure modes of transport has also given people greater mobility, allowing morewomen to move out of their villages to take jobs in the city (Hossain and Bose2004; World Bank 2008).While the progress described aboveis real, serious problems remain in Bangladesh, and new ones are surfacing.Thus, while women’s status has improved dramatically in the last few decades,gender inequalities persist in many areas, such as in access to markets,political forums, and high-tech services. Moreover, there are sharp disparitiesbased on an individual’s place of residence, wealth quintile, and ethnicity.
The practice of dowry payments is on the rise, and is one of the reasons whythe average girl is married off by the time she is 15 years old.I described above the extent towhich education has expanded in Bangladesh. I also noted that educationalopportunities for girls have changed the conservative marriage market, asincreasing numbers of women are, in contrast to their mothers’generation, marryingmen less educated than them.
Clearly, the demand for education is not onlycontingent on cultural reasons, but has some important structural correlates.For the past two decades, Bangladesh has pursued a policy of enhancing girl’s educationthrough innovative incentive schemes that provide stipends to girls who remainenrolled in secondary school. Over the past decade, NGOs have also contributedsubstantially to the expansion of educational opportunities for girls and oflabor market opportunities for women (World Bank 2008: Ch 1).However, recent qualitative workhas shown that perceptions among South Asians of girl’s education and gendernorms in general are changing rapidly. Today, local populations take greatpride in the expansion of girl’s education in their towns, and in the impactthis expansion has on the community, the well-being of children, and theempowerment of women (World Bank 2008: Ch 3). How and why did this change inperceptions of education come about? At the macro level, I argue that asupply-side push for education tapped the latent demand for education amongfamilies of girls, which seems to have existed alongside conservative norms andvalues.
Once the impact of education on girls and communities became apparent,this fueled further demand. Women’s access to new job opportunities in thegarment sector and with NGOs showed families that girls can have an economicworth as well. Globally of course, higher returns to education for women havebeen shown in a number of studies, including Psacharopoulos’ (1994)cross-country review, a study by Schultz (1994), and research from such diversesettings as Taiwan (Gindling et al. 1995), the Czech Republic and Slovakia(Chase 1997), and India (Malathy and Duraisamy 1993; Duraisamy 2000).
3. Dataand methods This study was conducted based on the data on varioussecondary sources like, Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES), LabourForce Survey (LFS) and other reports conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau ofStatistics (BBS), Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey (BDHS), BangladeshBureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) etc. Using thesedata, some projections were made by using the simple mathematical equation: Pt=Po (1+ rt)Where, Pt = Value ofthe present year Po= Value of the previous year t = Time interval between previous and present years r = Growth rateDifferent statistical reports, relevant research papers,books and many national and international journals have also been reviewed forthis study. One of the reasons why there is relatively little empiricalliterature on changing norms in South Asia is that there are few datasets thatallow for such analyses. Individual questions in the Demographic and HealthSurveys on attitudes toward violence, fertility, and individual diseases haveallowed for some analysis of attitudes in these areas, but very few questionsprovide the information needed for an analysis of attitudes toward genderinequality. To conduct my analysis, we were able to use the World Bank Survey onGender Norms in Bangladesh (WBGNS) 2006, a unique dataset which has a number ofquestions on attitudes toward gender equality in education. My aim is tounderstand whether two cohorts of women display differences in terms of gendernorms and/or the correlates of these norms, and whether these norms differ withregard to the education of girls versus boys, and of wives versus husbands,respectively.
The WBGNS 2006 is the first comprehensive, nationallyrepresentative household survey of gender norms and practices in Bangladesh. Itis based on a sample of adults that include married women in the age groups15?25 and 45?59, married male heads of households in the age group 25?50, and500 community leaders (such as Union Parishad (UP) members, Imams/Moulvis (religiousleaders), primary school teachers, and Madrasah teachers). The samples weredrawn in two stages. In the first stage, 91 clusters 5 were selected as asubsample of the 361 clusters included in the Bangladesh.
5 Acluster is a census-defined village that corresponds roughly to a mouza villagein rural areas and a census block (part of a mohollah) in an urban area. ResultsHere have two estimationsamples: older women (1,431 initial observations) and younger women (1,543initial observations). As explanatory variables were found to be missing forsome observations, the samples used in the final analyses were slightlysmaller. In analyzing the difference in patterns between the two cohorts ofwomen in the sample, I capture intergenerational changes. Of course, it isentirely possible that the difference is simply a function of age andlife-cycle, and not of cohort.
I believe, however, that after controlling for anumber of demographic characteristics, we are able to capture most of theeffects of changes over time.Bringing women into the mainstreameconomic activities and ensuring equal opportunity is one of the major targetsof Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as pursued by the government ofBangladesh. However, women in Bangladesh are dominated by a matrilineal andpatriarchal kinship system, which enforces the social and economic dependenceof women on men and prescribes the relative lower status of women. Although,there has been steady progress in reducing gender inequality in differentsectors like education employment etc. but there exists a huge inequality inthese sectors of Bangladesh and participation of women is very low compared totheir male counterpart. Gender inequality has appeared as the major stumblingbarrier in achieving the development targets.
Changes Socio-Economic Gender Inequality in EducationNumerous affirmative actions werealso introduced to enhance the female literacy. However, there remains aconsiderable gap in enrollment. Literacy as well as the significantly higherproportion of female dropout from the system is still a major concern. Theliteracy of male children was 49.5 percent in 2000 at the national level, whichhas increased to 61.12 percent in 2010 with an annual average increasing rateof 1.16 percent.
Continuation of this rate indicates that the literacy rate ofthe male children my increase to 65.77 percent in the national level by 2014which is 34.23 percent lower than the National Education Policy (NEP, 2010)target of 100 percent. Whereas, the literacy rate of female children in thenational level was 40.1 percent in 2000, which has increased to 54.8 percent in2010 with an annual average increasing rate of 1.47 percent.
Under the businessas usual scenario, the literacy rate of the female might be 60.68 percent at thenational level in 2014, which is 39.32 percent lower than the NationalEducation Policy (NEP, 2010) target of 100 percent. There are also highrural-urban variations in case of the literacy rate by sex where the ruralwomen are far behind than their urban counterparts and male counterparts aswell. Gender disparity is significantly high in higher education (universitylevel).
In 2001, among the total students in the public universities, only 24.3percent were female students whereas the male enrollment comprises almost threetimes higher (75.7 percent) than that of the female. It is also observed thatover the years, both male and female enrollment in the university level isincreasing with a slower rate.
In the recent time, the rate at which the femaleenrollment in the primary level is increasing, the enrollment in highereducation is not increasing at the same pace.There exists an immense inequalitybetween the male and female in Bangladesh as far as employment status isconcerned. However, although there are some progresses in the recent years butit is still low than that of expected. In 1993-94, employed male population was57.5 percent and it was 10.
6 percent for female at the national level. Thepercentage of employed population for both male and female has decreased to44.2 percent and 9.
7 percent respectively in 1999-2000. Again, the percentageof employed male and female has increased to 68.3 percent and 22.9 percent in2007 from 67.5 percent and 15.2 percent in 2004 respectively at the national level.Furthermore, it is also observed that the increasing rate in the percentage ofemployed population has occurred with a higher rate for female than that ofmale. Although there is little progress in the percentage of economicallyactive population, the number of population who are unemployed are stillincreasing.
Unemployed population has increased from 1.3 million in 1995-96 to2.7 million in 2009 with an average of 0.13 million per year.
In case of male,it has increased with an annual average of 0.06 million and for female it was0.05 million at the same period (1995-96 to 2009).Global research has providedevidence on the critical linkage of educational status and it is being one ofthe key factors that deters women from equal participation in socio economicactivities with men and strengthens inequality between sexes. In Bangladesh,women are still restricted within their home from the birth with the perceptionthat they will go away to other home after their marriage. Hence, they do notneed education. Traditionally, female education has been accorded a lowpriority in Bangladesh due to poverty, social directives for female seclusionand the low value of girls.
However, the situation is changing in recent time.Since the world Declaration for All (1990), the government introduced variousmeasures to intensify basic education for all with particular focus on femaleeducation. Numerous affirmative actions were also introduced to enhance femaleliteracy. However, there remains a considerable gap in enrollment literacy aswell as the significantly higher proportion of female dropout from the systemis still a major concern.The percentage of literate children also varies according to the sex.
Theliteracy of male children was 49.5 percent in 2000 at national level which hasincreased to 61.12 percent in 2010 with an annual average increasing rate of1.16 percent. Continuation of this rate indicates that the literacy rate ofmale children might be increased to 65.77 percent at national level by 2014,which is 34.
23 percent lower than the National Education Policy (NEP, 2010)target of 100 percent. Whereas, literacy rate of female children at nationallevel was 40.1 percent in 2000 which has increased to 54.8 percent in 2010 withan annual average increasing rate of 1.47 percent. Under the business as usualscenario, literacy rate of female might be 60.68 percent at national level in2014, which is 39.32 percent lower than the National Education Policy (NEP,2010) target of 100 percent.
There are also high rural-urban variations in caseof literacy rate by sex. This percentage of literacy was 45.5 percent and 64.9percent in rural and urban area for male children in 2000which has increased to56.67 percent and 73.1 percent in 2010 with an annual average increasing rateof 1.1 percent and 0.
82 percent respectively. On the other hand, in 2000literacy rate of female was 36.1 percent and 55.3 percent for rural and urbanareas which has increased to 50.21 percent and 67.67 percent in 2010 with anannual average increase rate of 1.41 percent and 1.
24 percent respectively(Table 2). The annual average rate of increase in the percentage of femaleliteracy at national, rural and urban level is comparatively higher than thatof male. This might be due to the various education enhancing activities bygovernments and various NGOs.Table 2: Current situation andfuture projection of literacy rate (<7 years of age) by sex Female Male Year National Rural Urban National Rural Urban 2000 40.
1 36.1 55.3 49.
5 45.5 64.9 2005 48.
1 42.9 63.2 55.
8 50.4 72.1 2010 54.8 50.21 67.67 61.12 56.67 73.
1 2015 60.68 55.85 72.
61 65.77 61.14 76.38 Source: based on BBS dataof different yearsDespite considerable progress in the percentage of literacy rate, stillit is lower than the expected. However, the percentage of the literacy rateboth for male and female are increasing but it is occurring at a slower ratethan that of the previous year. It is observed that the annual rate of increasein the percentage of female literacy was 3.99 between 2000 and 2005 whereas itwas 2.79 percent during 2005-2010.
On the other hand, this increase rate formale was 2.55 percent per year during 2000-2005 and 1.91 percent during2005-2010.
Additionally, the annual rate of increase in the female literacy was3.67, 3.91 and 2.24 percent at the national, rural and urban level respectivelybetween 2000 and 2010. At the same tine (i.
e. 2000-2010) the male literacy wasincrease with an annual rate of 2.35, 2.45 and 1.26 percent at national, ruraland urban level respectively.Figure 2: Annual growth rate inthe percentage of literacy between 2000 and 2010 by sexSource: based on BBS dataof different yearsIn the recent years, the rate atwhich female enrollment at the primary level of education has increased isunlike the enrollment at higher education which has not been increased at thesame pace. Various positive initiatives for female education (especially atprimary level), taken by the government, might be responsible for that. But,their continuation with education is breaking down due to varioussocio-economic and cultural reasons.
Socio-cultural attitudes in the form ofgrowing fundamentalism, increasing incidence of sexual violence and harassmentagainst girls are also identified as contributing factors behind girl’s dropoutof the school system. Gender disparity is significantly high in highereducation (university level). In 2001, among the total student at publicuniversities, only 24.3 percent were female students whereas, male enrollmentcomprises almost 3 times higher (75.
7 percent) than that of the female. It isalso observed that, over the years, both male and female enrollment atuniversity level is increasing with a slower rate. Figure 3: Percentage of the enrolled students atuniversity level (public university) by sexSource: BANBEIS, 2011 Strengths and Limitations In the present research, due to time and budgetaryconstraints, fifty participants were selected purposively which may not seem tobe sufficient. Female students who participated in the interview sessions,majority of them were at the teenage stage that might affect the researchoutcomes.
Despite varieties of limitations, our research findings have someimplications for gender sensitive education policy and interventions in thecontext of rural Bangladesh. Conclusions It is universal that participation of women in education isimperative for balanced socio-economic development as well as empowerment ofwomen. Present study findings indicate that socio-cultural prejudicesconcerning girls’ educational attainment are highly prevalent in the studyarea. In traditional rural Bangladesh, subordinated position of women made themvulnerable within the family and everywhere because it is well known that alarge number of them (women) are less educated or having no education.Therefore, program addressing men’s attitudes toward women is needed to beintroduced. Similarly, present research findings also suggest that there aresome basic socio-cultural problems embedded in social system which isdetrimental for girls’ educational achievement. Thus, effective consciousnessprograms (e.g.
gender neutral teaching environment, interaction patternsbetween teacher and female student, gender role education) are also needed toimprove the situation (Good et al., 1973; Delamont, 1980; Graneheim , 2004). Faulty socialization process leads gender differences inlearning ability between boys and girls (Kelly, 1981). At the same time, sociallearning process is an important factor that leads differences in learningbehaviors of boys and girls, because children learn all new behaviors byimitating both adults and other children (Bandura, 1971). Hence, for ensuringgirls’ education of marginal households, door to door awareness program onchildren’s proper socialization and learning behaviors is required widely