Unequal treatment based on gender was supposed to be a concept of primitive times since we claim to have become far more educated with time in knowing the importance of treating men and women equally. However, even in this modern world gender inequality is very much relevant. Gender refers to the roles of man and woman and, the relationship between that is socially constructed (Wood, 2005). For most societies, it is the basic marker of economic and social stratification.
Gender inequality is the unequal and biased treatment between two genders, men and women. Even though the degree of inequality varies across countries, there are systematic gender differences in material well-being regardless of the socio-economic class. Gender equality is also considered as a result of how men and women are tied to a certain economic structure of the state. On average, men gain a better position in economic, social, and, political hierarchies compared to women (Mino,1990).
Just like gender is a social construct, the practice of gender inequality has been normalized in our culture and society. The state works as a catalyst for increasing gender inequalities as the core elements required for such inequality regularly operate within the state (Darity, 1995). The culture of any society plays a significant role during policy formulation and implementation by the state. This is the same culture that normalizes gender inequality in society. As a consequence, the state often provides a mechanism for gender inequality (Darity, 1995). The scenario becomes worse when existing laws of the state reflect that inequality, which is true for most of the developing and underdeveloped countries.
A report developed by Human Rights Watch in 2011 provided an in-depth discussion on the shortcomings of personal laws in Bangladesh that largely discriminate against women. The report contained interviews with 120 women who have personally experienced difficulties in these legal procedures. The findings revealed that women face gender inequality in-laws as they discriminate against women during marriage, separation, divorce, and, gives rise to economic inequality. Not only the legal assistance, but the social assistance programs of Bangladesh also face barriers in assisting women in economic hardship after separation or divorce (Kashyap, 2011). Even though criminal laws in the country makes no discrimination in gender but when it comes to family life, there is massive discrimination. The Hindu marriage law makes it difficult for a woman to file for a divorce even though she is being tortured by her husband (Hasan, 2019). The discrimination is valid in the case of both paid and unpaid labor.
The societal structure of Bangladesh is associated with many problems including illiteracy, unemployment, and, poverty. Almost 85 percent of women live in rural areas where they are placed in an unequal and disadvantaged position by the system and institution (Ali, 2012). Women have to play the dual role of housewives and wage-earner that often depends on the socio-cultural and economic condition of the area. They get a smaller share of expenditure relative to men in terms of education and health. In households, it is the men who own the lands, and women are deprived of these rights. Women are responsible for child-rearing and have very little scope to go out for employment.
Employment is the key mechanism of promoting gender equality (Darity, 1995) but discrimination among boys and girls in the family and early marriages has led to a higher number of girls’ dropouts in the schools. This makes the situation difficult for women to find a proper job in times of economic distress. If women are made incapable of their early lives through discriminatory structure and policies, they can rarely make a livelihood of their own. Men have disproportionate control over secure jobs with fair income but women are only confined to low-wage insecure jobs with no bargaining power.
These domains of gender gaps are controlled by the state through policy formulation, implementation, and, development (Blecker and Seguin, 2002). The domain of gender capability is also directly related to the role of the state and the existing inequalities between men and women. As long as the state is implementing discriminatory policies that are biased towards men, the economy can not enjoy the full contribution of its population (Hasan, 2019). This explains the reasons why most countries with gender discriminatory policies and laws are underdeveloped in nature. This is because a reduced gender gap and proper insurance of stable socio-economic and cultural development is mandatory for the development of any state.
Wood, J. T. (2005). Gendered lives: Communication, gender & and culture. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.
Mino, V. (1990). Gender Inequality: A Comparative Study of Discrimination and Participation, California: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Darity, W. (1995). The formal structure of a gender-segregated low-income economy. World Development, 23(11), 1963-1968, Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/4978752_The_Formal_Structure_of_a_Gender-Segregated_Low-Income_Economy
Kashyap, A. (2011). Harm to Women from Bangladesh’s Discriminatory Laws on Marriage, Separation, and Divorce, Human Rights Watch, Retrieved from: https://www.hrw.org/report/2012/09/17/will-i-get-my-dues-i-die/harm-women-bangladeshs-discriminatory-laws-marriage
Hasan, K. (2019). Speakers: Gender discrimination still exists in laws related to aspects of family, The Dhaka Tribune, Retrieved from: https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/law-rights/2019/06/24/speakers-gender-discrimination-still-exists-in-laws-related-to-aspects-of-family
Ali, R. (2012). Changing Expectations of Gender Roles in Bangladesh: The Case of Female Field Staff of BRAC. Research Monograph Series No. 52.
Blecker, R. and S. Seguin, (2002). Macroeconomic effects of reducing gender wage inequality in an export– oriented semi industrialized economy,
Review of Development Economics, 6(01), Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9361.00144