শিশুমৃত্যু হার, নারী শিক্ষা, শিশু পুষ্টি ইত্যাদি বিভিন্ন সামাজিক সূচকে ভারত-পাকিস্থানকে ছাড়িয়ে বাংলাদেশের উজ্জ্বল অবস্থানের পেছনে রয়েছে বাংলাদেশের নারীদের কর্মক্ষম করে তোলার বিভিন্ন উদ্যোগ এবং নারীদের অধিকার প্রতিষ্ঠা।
গার্মেন্টস শিল্পে নারীদের নিয়োগ (৪০ লক্ষ গার্মেন্টস কর্মীদের মাঝে ৮৫% নারী), ক্ষুদ্রঋণ কর্মসূচিতে নারীদের অংশগ্রহণ (গ্রামীণের ৮৪ লক্ষাধিক গ্রাহকের মাঝে ৯৭%+ নারী।), দেশের মেডিক্যাল কলেজগুলোতে ছাত্রী সংখ্যা ছাত্র সংখ্যাকে ছাড়িয়ে যাওয়া – এমন সব দৃষ্টান্ত আমরা দেখছি।
তরুণরা নারীদের সমঅধিকার প্রতিষ্ঠায় সচেতন।
বাংলাদেশ কিভাবে সামাজিক সূচকে এতটা অগ্রগতি দেখাল?
“Four main factors explain this surprising success.
In giving women better health and more autonomy, family planning was one of a number of factors that improved their lot, and by so doing did much to reduce poverty. The spread of primary education was one of the others (the government has been better than many at helping women this way); the proportion of girls who get schooled has increased much more than the proportion of boys. And both the boom in the textile industry and the arrival of microcredit have, over the past 20 years, put money into women’s pockets—from which it is more likely to be spent on health, education and better food.
Second, Bangladesh managed to restrain the fall in rural household incomes that usually increases extreme poverty in developing countries.
Remittances and family planning have not attacked extreme poverty directly. That is where the government comes in.
Third, despite the political circus, the country’s elite has maintained a consensus in favour of social programmes.
And even that spending might well have been wasted but for one further influence: the extraordinary role played by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country.
BRAC (which originally stood for Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee, but now is the only name the organisation needs) invented the idea of microcredit, that is, tiny loans to the destitute. Then another NGO, Grameen Bank, made them work by targeting them on women and holding weekly meetings of borrowers who would identify and support anyone who was falling behind on repayments. Their growth since has been explosive. Grameen has 8.4m borrowers and outstanding loans of over $1 billion; BRAC has 5m borrowers and loans of $725m. The poor account for roughly a fifth of the total loan portfolio of the country, an unusually high proportion.
The real magic of Bangladesh, though, was not microfinance but BRAC—and NGOs more generally.
BRAC does practically everything.
rehydrate a child suffering from diarrhoea.
inoculate every Bangladeshi against tuberculosis.
BRAC’s primary schools
BRAC even has the world’s largest legal-aid programme: there are more BRAC legal centres than police stations in Bangladesh.
BRAC is a sort of chaebol (South Korean conglomerate)for social development. It began with microcredit, but found its poor clients could not sell the milk and eggs produced by the animals they had bought. So BRAC got into food processing. When it found the most destitute were too poor for micro-loans, it set up a programme which gave them animals.
The innovative NGO now has 100,000 health volunteers with mobile phones (mobile-phone coverage is widespread in Bangladesh). When a volunteer finds a woman is pregnant, she texts the mother-to-be with advice on prenatal and, later, postnatal care. This is helping BRAC build up a database of maternal and child-health patterns in remote villages.
But Bangladesh’s record is, on balance, a good one. It shows that the benefits of making women central to development are huge.”