Representation of Women in Economics for Economic Empowerment

Jafreen Alamgir
Posted July 2, 2018 from Bangladesh

Half of the population around the world comprises of women. Women with high economic potential are considered as independent and highly empowered. Do you think this is true? Can our well-being be explained just by having proper education and proper job? Can that explain how we are happier than other women? What about the women who earn their money through prostitution?

Why is the issue of prostitution not represented in Economics at all? Is prostitution a black market that made it underrepresented in Economics? Or is there a gender bias caused by reduction of women taking Economics as a subject for academic accomplishments? 

The Global Gender Gap is a current issue that is being discussed about in the current world. Women are not being able to secure fair pay when it comes to employment.  They are being segregated due to them being different from men- by just being a woman. Although this issue has not really been solved but reduced in a global level due to attempts by the development practitioners who are working hard to change the stereotype and ensure the welfare of women in the workplace. World Bank has already approved that Bangladesh is the fast growing developing country, which requires a slight improvement in quality education for primary schools, gender empowerment and a few more things. This might take Bangladesh to a new level-be the new Asian Tiger by increasing GDP. It's performance in Gender Gap Index has done a magic by ranking really high from 72 to 47th position, with Iceland being the highest. But this should come as an inspiration for people of Bangladesh to emphasize more on women empowerment, rather than discouraging it.

Still, we will find that women are deprived of basic education or health care. We can find out what prostitution is and how it has been practiced in a developing country like Bangladesh which has created a constraint on a woman’s ability to empower herself and the community around her. According to the Unicef, 65% of women are unemployed in Bangladesh. Malnutrition has led to negative impact on their pregnancy and mortality rates. The net attendance rates in secondary education are still extremely low, at only 53 per cent for girls and 46 per cent for boys

Prostitution in Bangladesh comprises of food stalls, tea shops and street vendors and a secret space which is separated from the outer civilized world. Prostitution has been legal in Bangladesh since 2000 and the girls are being exploited there by being victims of fraud marriage proposals or simply by escaping from home. If a woman pays her debt in the brothel, then she can freely leave but they are socially stigmatized due to their family inability to accept them as a woman or human being. Families find it hard to accept these women since their reputation in the society becomes at stake. Moreover, they have been trafficked to many countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and so on.  During the last year, 384 victims were served by government and NGO care facilities in Bangladesh; some of these may have been victims of trafficking. The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment continued to operate shelters for female Bangladeshi victims of trafficking and exploitation in Riyadh and Jeddah. Law enforcement personnel encouraged victims of trafficking, when identified, to participate in investigations and prosecutions of their traffickers, but there was no evidence of the number of victims who assisted in investigations and prosecutions of traffickers in the reporting period. Authorities did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. When no space was available in shelter homes, however, female victims of trafficking – as wards of the police or court – stayed in jails. 

However, I don’t think that making sex trafficking illegal is a practical solution to reduce the number of existence of brothels in Bangladesh. In order to reduce it, we need to understand the role of education and social changes in their lives. They play a highly significant role in changing how the world treats a prostitute.

We all have studied in our books that education is the backbone of a nation. And yet we fail to ensure the provision of education to them and their illegitimate children. They are constantly being stigmatized due to their background which creates a barrier for them to empower themselves and be independent. What was the purpose of education in this world? Education is introduced with the purpose of providing universal knowledge and change the world, rather than getting a job and earning a pretty amount of salary. With education, they will be able to understand that the job they do is undermining their potential. This could be a great loss to a nation if we fail to recognize the potential of a woman since they are mothers, daughters and sisters who contribute a great proportion of welfare to a society. Instead of creating a culture that the prostitutes deserve a place outside of a civilized world, we should open the world for them to enter and create a better impact on the economic performance of Bangladesh.

The family members of the prostitutes should understand that going to brothels was completely not their choice. Rather, they were forced by men who wanted to harm the reputation of the family. A prostitute might sound disgusting but they have a heart and a soul that represent them as a human being. We should stop judging women based on the patriarchal assumptions. Once a family finds it easier to accept them, the society gradually begins to accept her existence. Then she will be able to stop being inclined to prostitution and focus more on developing herself as a civilized woman.

Economics is a beautiful subject that explains how the market works in the world. But it rarely includes the contribution of women in the progress of a nation, other than Development Economics. Therefore, I believe that if we can solve the issue of prostitution through small steps, the world will definitely be a better and safe place for women in the public space. 

And if you want to have more insight about the reality of brothels in Bangladesh, you can follow the link here.

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Aldama,Zigor. Miguel Candela.The Brothels of Bangladesh.The Diplomat. 23 February 2015

Dickerman, Kenneth. Within these walls: inside the legal brothels of Bangladesh. Independent 31 October 2016

The Global Gender Gap Report.World Economic Forum .2014

Women and Girls in Bangladesh. unicef. 10 June

 

 

This post was submitted in response to #WealthofWomen.

Comments 27

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jlanghus
Jul 02
Jul 02

Hi Jafreen. How are you? Thanks for sharing your post about prostitution in Bangladesh. It's certainly and open-minded account of the profession and thought-provoking. I'm impressed that Bangladesh is up and coming, too. Hopefully this means there will be more equal education opportunities and a more systematic and inclusive approach to healthcare for all individuals there sooner rather than later.

I think putting more pressure and onus on the authorities, though, is essential, so they start regulating illegal activities which are harming these women. And, also, to ensure that families are giving girls and boys the same educational opportunities and treating them equally is also essential... changing that paradigm is huge... assuming there is a disparity here?!

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 02
Jul 02

Hello Jlanghus, I am good. Thank you. How are you?
And yeah, I think it's a huge but it should start from small steps. Jumping to huge steps can collapse the overall struggle to make an impact. I am glad you have read it really profoundly.
Thank you for that. :)

jlanghus
Jul 02
Jul 02

Good, thanks:-) Yes, that makes sense.

So, what do you suggest are the best, small steps of progress for your community, or collectively as a whole for your country, for women economically?

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 02
Jul 02

Actually, currently the political situation in Bangladesh is not good due to quota reform protest by students. So it is quite evident that questioning authority right now will just add salt to wound. A small beginning can start from writing and making people aware of what is happening around them in a neutral manner. Small steps can start from making a person understand how to respect a prostitute by not being judgmental. Then people will definitely think of starting campaigns and maybe a movement later on. And from one of my friend who work in INGO, Amnesty International says real changes happen when action plan is ready to implement.

jlanghus
Jul 02
Jul 02

Oh, I see:-( That doesn't sound good. Interesting. Thanks for your clarification and additional input.

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 03
Jul 03

You are most welcome!

jlanghus
Jul 03
Jul 03

Please keep us posted on this issue so we are aware of any updates or advancements with it, please:) Thanks.

Madhuri Deshkar
Jul 21
Jul 21

I like your idea

Stephanie Mah
Jul 02
Jul 02

Hi Jafreen.thank you for sharing your story about prostitution.with this saying that a journey of a thousand mile Begin with a step,I belief that taking from one step to another you will reatch the top.
More grace.

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 03
Jul 03

Hi Stephanie! Your message is inspiring and strengthening me to move ahead. Thank you so much for your motivation. :)

Stephanie Mah
Jul 03
Jul 03

You are welcome, God be with you, sister.

Olubee
Jul 02
Jul 02

Dear Jafreen.You have really educate us on what is happen to women in Bangladesh.I agree with you that big thing start small,if we collectively start writing about this ,letting the whole world know,definitely there will be light at the end of the funnel.Thanks for sharing.
Keep up the good work
Much love.

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 03
Jul 03

Thank you so much Olubee! Your love will definitely help me to change the world and make it a better place for women to live in.

Tarke Edith
Jul 05
Jul 05

Hi Jareen thank you very much for this story women are really sufring from this chalanges but sis we shall join our voices together and fight this ill

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 05
Jul 05

You are welcome! And thank you so much for your heartfelt support. <3

Basudha Modak
Jul 09
Jul 09

i am originally from India, even with high economic empowerment the final decision of money spending for the majority of us depends on our family members. i have seen my mother try to save money for our basic needs and it was taken away. Now even though i am independent and earn , i still have to ask my husband for spending money on household stuff from the joint account. The reason being money is for the kids future , so i cant waste it .And this is for majorly everyone i have still met. the only ones who have their own power are the single or the divorced. At the cost of freedom, they had to lose relations.

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 10
Jul 10

Thanks for your response. Good to hear that we share the same ordeals as the prostitutes but very few can admit it. I am very grateful for your courage to share it.

Tamarack Verrall
Jul 09
Jul 09

Dear Jafreen,
Your description of what is happening to women who have been forced into, born into or ended up in brothels is such important information for us all to know. The video also fill in many details important for understanding what is happening and what needs to change. I so agree that offering education the can bring options, and undoing stigmatization are critical solutions to work on. I hope that we can together imagine a world in which no woman or girl is forced to live this way. Prostitution is still romanticized with little being done to stop trafficking, and offer alternative ways to survive financially. The more we put information like yours here together, the stronger our collective voices can be to end sexual slavery and violence toward women and girls everywhere. Knowing what is happening in Bangladesh helps us speak out with knowledge. The more we know from every country, the stronger our voices can become. This is such important work you are doing, and so wisely.

In sisterhood,
Tam

Jafreen Alamgir
Jul 10
Jul 10

Thank you so much for your appreciation and support. Lots of love.

ARREY - ECHI
Jul 18
Jul 18

Hello Jafreen,
Your post is an eye opener on what many would see or termed unchartered waters because a lot of societies frown on prostitution on religious and social norms. Nevertheless, their frowning won't make it go away without concrete solutions in place to better the lives of women which forces a lot into prostitution. The paradgim shift would happen when policy makers start making policies which places men and women in an equal footing vis-a-vis access to basic social needs like education and health care.

All the best as you fight to break this stigma,
Love from Cameroon.

Jafreen Alamgir
Aug 17
Aug 17

Thank you so much for your positive feedback. Would love to hear from your encouragement always.

Madhuri Deshkar
Jul 21
Jul 21

I like your idea

Jafreen Alamgir
Aug 17
Aug 17

Great to know. Thank you. :)

Madhuri Deshkar
Jul 21
Jul 21

I love you story filling

Jafreen Alamgir
Aug 17
Aug 17

Haha! If you also liked the movie, let me know. I just loved the character in the movie, Mastani <3

KQA
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hello, Jafreen,

Thank you for speaking out as a voice of women in Bangladesh. A World Pulse sister wrote, "When you empower a woman, you empower a generation.

With you speaking out the issues on genger gap in Bangladesh, you are beginning to change your nation. It only takes one woman, and you are a gift to Bangladesh.

Thank you for sharing your story!

Jafreen Alamgir
Aug 17
Aug 17

Hello Karen,
Thank you so much for your encouraging words. Definitely, one example can lead millions. :)