Women Empowerment in Bangladesh
Empowerment: Empowerment means giving power & authority. So by women empowerment we mean giving power & authority to the women.
The process of empowerment requires transformation of structures of sub ordinance, control over material and intellectual resources, gaining decisions, making authority and reduction of gender inequality. This requires that women must recognize their strategic needs, their social position and understand how coercive it is. The women’s strategic needs are here defined as to increase the women’s bargaining capacity, reduce violence against women and make them gain more influence over decision-making. Encountered: Multi-dimensional difficulties and constraints have been encountered in the work for women’s empowerment. Most of the violence towards women in Bangladesh takes place within the households. The reported cases of violence are increasing. There are two reasons for this. First of all the increased awareness of violence against women has facilitated uncovering occurrence of violence. Secondly, rural women are at a crossroad now and have been faced with the ideology of patriarchy, which help reinforce the power hierarchies within the family. The increasing trend of violence against women should therefore be explained as the outcome of a contradiction against the ideology of patriarchy, manifested in social restrictions against women’s mobility, the system of early marriage for girls, restriction on negotiation rights etc.
A classic case of patriarchy is the assumption that the male must exercise control over women by limiting her mobility to the home. Such control of female sexuality is further elevated by creating an image of the mother as divine and women who do not live up to the ideal, as fallen women.
In Bangladesh the family is the breading grounds for some of the most persistent discrimination against women, such as sexual subordination of women, restriction of the mobility of women and different access to resources within the family. The NGOs are still facing difficulties when trying to convince the women that gender inequalities are not natural but a social construction.
The purpose with this study is to find out how the mobile phone and the Village Pay Phone from Grameen Telecom have been implemented into women’s life in rural Bangladesh. It also aims to study how the women have become empowered by this program. The sample constitutes sixteen female owners. A purposeful cluster sampling was used to depict six villages from various parts of Bangladesh. When arriving in the villages a snowball sampling method was used to find female VPP owners. The sampling method was chosen to include a sample of various characteristics. The study has a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, which aims to find out how the women experience the VPP and what meaning the women put in it. To collect empirical data interviews with open questions were used that opened up for conversation and the possibility to understand a range of experiences and nuances of meanings. The findings indicate that the majority of the women handed over the VPP to their husband or a male relative. The reason why is the families’ pressure on them to adjust to Purdah and seclusion, too much domestic work, lack of education, or because of the attitude among men and women both that business is a male domain. The study shows that women mostly gained some prestige. Also, they got a greater self-esteem to meet strangers since the VPP made them meet more people. But it has also brought quarrels and broken some friendships. All women are now more able to call family and relatives when they needed or wanted to and said that they have full access to use the mobile phone for this purpose. Still many are put in a dependency relation to others as they need help to use it. The women, however, are no longer owners of a status symbol because the mobile phone is more available for others today, but they are still known by name. Their homes do no longer attract visitors as it once did during the initiation of the program. There has also been a significant decrease in demand for the VPP that has lessened the income much and some have become even poorer from the VPP and women seldom benefitted personally from the profit. A few of the women mentioned that the family atmosphere had improved but most of them did not say that they had gained influence in the family as a result of the VPP.