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Tending to the most vulnerable in Bangladesh

Yoonyoung Cho's picture
Bus lift for persons with disabilities that I saw when I first arrived in Madison, Wisconsin.
Photo Credit: Ride Metro Bus

When I first visited the college town of Madison, Wisconsin (USA) in 2000, what first stood out wasn’t its beautiful university campus or its famous brat and beer combo. What caught my attention was a public bus which had the equipment to lift a wheelchair. “Beep, beep, beep,” a sound would signal as the bus would lower and extend a ramp to aid people in wheelchairs to board the bus.

At that time, I had never seen anything like this bus and thought, “Wow! Why can’t we have such services back in my country?” No such buses existed in Korea where I grew up. But more than just the bus, I remembered thinking that I rarely noticed people with special needs in Korea. In hindsight, the lack of support and consideration for people with disabilities and ignorant attitudes were also reasons why people with disabilities were rarely seen in public.

Addressing needs through action                                                                                 
In 2014, I became the task leader for Bangladesh’s Disability and Children at Risk (DCAR) project. The difficult situation faced by persons with disabilities in the country was a reminder of the contrast I had experienced in that college town. Accessible transportation was not the only service lacking for people with disabilities. There was a lack of access to health facilities for checkups and treatment along with a short supply of therapy equipment and wheelchairs. A lack of respect towards persons with disabilities by the wider public was also a challenge. Moreover, the project was not delivering the results that it expected to achieve.

Equal opportunity to women benefits all

Annette Dixon's picture
Also available in: 日本語


Celebrating the women of South Asia

As we today mark UN Women’s Day, it is worth considering what the inequality between men and women costs South Asian countries and what can be done about it. 

One big cost of inequality is that South Asian economies do not reach their full potential. In Bangladesh, for example, women account for most unpaid work, and are overrepresented in the low productivity informal sector and among the poor. Raising the female employment rate could contribute significantly to Bangladesh achieving its goal in 2021 of becoming a middle-income country. Yet even middle-income countries in South Asia could prosper from more women in the workforce. Women represent only 34 percent of the employed population in Sri Lanka, a figure that has remained static for decades.

Economic opportunities for women matter not just because they can bring money home. They also matter because opportunities empower women more broadly in society and this can have a positive impact on others.  If women have a bigger say in how household money is spent this can ensure more of it is spent on children.

Improvements in the education and health of women have been linked to better outcomes for their children in countries as varied as Nepal and Pakistan. In India, giving power to women at the local government level led to increases in public services, such as water and sanitation.

Just as the costs of inequality are huge, so is the challenge in overcoming it. The gaps in opportunity between men and women are the product of pervasive and stubborn social norms that privilege men’s and boys’ access to opportunities and resources over women’s and girls’.

 

機会均等ですべての女性に恩恵を

Annette Dixon's picture
Also available in: English


Celebrating the women of South Asia

国連の「国際女性の日 」の今日、南アジア諸国におけるジェンダーの不平等がどれほどの弊害をもたらし、その解消のために何ができるかについて考えてみたい。

不平等がもたらす大きな弊害の一つとして、南アジア諸国が本来備えている力を最大限に発揮することができない点が挙げられる。例えばバングラデシュでは、 無報酬の仕事に就いている人は大半が女性であり、生産性の低いインフォーマル・セクター や貧困層でも女性の割合が多いのが実情である。女性の就業率を高めれば、2021年までに中所得国入りを果たすというバングラデシュの目標達成に大きく貢 献するだろう。それだけではなく、すでに中所得国である国 も、労働人口に占める女性の割合が増えればさらなる繁栄を期待できる。スリランカでは、就業人口に占める女性の割合が、何十年にもわたって、わずか34% にとどまっている。

女性の経済的機会が重要なのは、家計収入が増えるという意味からだけではない。そうした機会を通じ、女性はより幅広く社会的な力を身につけ、それがひいては本人以外にもプラスの影響をもたらし得るからだ。例えば、 家計支出について女性の発言権が高まれば、子供のための支出拡大につながる可能性がある。ネパールやパキスタンなど様々な国で、教育や保健に恵まれた女性 の子供は、より充実した人生 を歩んでいることが多い。インドでは、現地政府のレベルで女性の権限を高めたところ、水や衛生などの公共サービス向上につながった。

不平等は、それがもたらす弊害が大きいだけでなく、その克服に向けた課題もまた極めて大きい。ジェンダーの不平等 は、機会や資源へのアクセスにおいて男性や男子を女性や女子よりも優遇するという、広範で根強い社会的通念の産物だ。

従って、ジェンダーの不平等を断ち切るには、持続的で総合的な取組みが求められる。具体的には、家庭、仕事や製品市場 、さらには公式・非公式の組織において、格差を助長する複合的な障壁の解消が必要となる。

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