Evaluating the changes to the lives of rural women made possible by the Bangladeshi Government’s gender focused school subsidy scheme
Summary of publication
Evaluating the changes to the lives of rural women made possible by the Bangladeshi Government's gender focused school subsidy scheme is an Australian Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS) research project, awarded under the last ADRAS round in 2012. A Research team from the University of Kent and the University of Malaya undertook the project from April 2013 – October 2016.
Bangladesh launched a nationwide incentive scheme during the 1990s, the female secondary school assistance program (FSSAP), which created new educational opportunities among younger cohorts of Bangladeshi women. This ADRAS project investigated whether secondary school completion improved women's market participation and had an intergenerational impact. The project also considered the extent to which social customs such as the practice of purdah and early marriage still impact upon women's lives at a time when it is becoming a norm for adolescent girls to attend secondary school throughout the country. The research found that:
- Women face multiple socio-economic barriers - removing a few such as lowering the burden of a large family, improving access to schooling and increasing social acceptability of outside mobility in rural Bangladesh have not been sufficient to widen the range of women's life choices.
- New interventions (e.g. designing adolescent development programs) are needed to end child marriage and help retain girls in schools.
- Parallel improvements in social development - rural poverty reduction and children's rights - are needed to avoid the unintended adverse impact of low-wage readymade garments (RMG) factory on girls' schooling.
- Creation of employment opportunities, free of social stigma, is critical to increasing women's participation in the formal economy.