Women contribute 26 percent to bank deposits, but they only get 2 percent as credit on the total outstanding loans, according to a study launched yesterday.
Despite better use of loans than men, women entrepreneurs are faced with a lack of access to formal financing because of high transaction costs, asymmetric information, Lack of personal guarantees and cumbersome documentation for the loan application.
Rural women do not have access to savings and other financial services, according to the study presented at a conference on "Empowerment (WEE) – Investing in emerging priorities ".
CARE Bangladesh organized the International Women's Day program at the Spectra Convention Center in Dhaka to bring together development actors, the private sector, decision-makers and stakeholders
Micro-enterprises transform the livelihoods of women in Bangladesh by engaging them in non-agricultural activities, according to a presentation. There were three plenary sessions – Women and the Market, Women and Financial Inclusion and Women and Dignified Work.
Only money and education can empower women because financial solvency is the source of power, said Meher Afroze Chumki, state minister for the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Children , Who attended as the main guest.
Financial independence allows a woman to fight against oppression, she added.
The fate of women will have to change if we are to achieve middle income status, the minister said.
"In our society, men are powerful as they have income, but women are behind in the gains. Financial dependence on men makes women weaker. "
The ministry works on the empowerment of women by taking projects to train them in different sectors, including driving and mechanics, she said. The ministry recently took a project worth Tk 250 crore to train women across the country in 18 sectors.
Christine Hunter, UN Women representative, said: "We need to talk about the empowerment of women because girls are still facing many inequalities.
Women's economic empowerment will bring a big change in their lives, she added.
There are different types of changes needed, such as building women's choices and giving them the opportunity to choose how they want to pursue their lives, Hunter said. "We must remove the barriers that limit the choice of women."
She suggests that women should make their voices heard for their rights and interests; The challenge of empowering women in Bangladesh is to raise voices collectively.
There are many successful women's cases in Bangladesh because they overcame the obstacles, she said.
The contribution of women in the formal sector is unknown and undervalued, said Jamie Terzi, director of CARE Bangladesh.
"First, we should tackle gender discrimination that limits the potential and opportunities of women," she said.
It is time to acknowledge the contribution of women in informal and formal economic sectors, she added.
CARE Bangladesh honored 10 women with crests and certificates to recognize their contribution to the empowerment of women, while the state minister handed them over.
At the conference, a mobile application on financial services was launched for garment workers.
Humaira Aziz, director of the Women and Girls Empowerment Program of CARE Bangladesh, said the mobile-based learning application is designed to provide basic knowledge about child- Financial education
The application was designed on the basis of a financial education module developed by CARE as part of a one – year pilot project phase of the project. Financial inclusion for garment workers
The Labor Force Survey (LFS) in 2013 shows that the participation rate of women in the labor force is only about 33.5%. Gender differences in employment status were also highlighted in the LFS, which found that 56.3% of women were unpaid family workers compared to 7, 1% for men
There is a higher rate of growth of women as unpaid family workers from the period 1999 to 2010, and the majority of women's economic participation has been in the informal sector