Women, as a political group, have little to offer the ruling elites in Bangladesh: they do not vote as a block; gender equity concerns have little currency in mainstream politics; and women’s organisations are weak actors in the formal political arena. This paper investigates 2 successful policy cases – the Domestic Violence Act 2010, and the expansion of access to primary education for girls – to investigate what led the state to address gender equity concerns successfully in some policy areas in a competitive clientelist context? What role, if any, did women and their allies play to make these changes happen? Why do some failures in implementation persist? Findings indicate that the alignment between each policy reform and the dominant interests and ideas of the ruling coalition influenced the capacity and commitment accorded to each agenda. In both cases, transnational actors, events and discourses are able to tip the balance in favour of women’s rights, and South-South exchanges can play a vital role in promoting women’s rights. Both cases reveal how the political settlement has shaped the promotion of gender equity in Bangladesh, and the value of moving beyond the usual focus on the impact of gender quotas and the effectiveness of state gender machinery, to the deeper forms of politics and power relations that shape progress on this front.
This output was funded under the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre programme
Nazneed, S. and Masud, R. (2017) The politics of negotiating gender equity in Bangladesh. ESID working paper no. 76. Manchester: Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, The University of Manchester
Published 14 February 2017