Dilemma and Intricacies of Law, Society and Religion towards the Empowerment of Women in Bangladesh

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Lecturer of Law at the University of Development Alternative (UODA), Bangladesh

2 Lecturer of Law at the University of Asia Pacific (UAP), Bangladesh


As a signatory of different international instruments approbating women’s empowerment, Bangladesh is committed to playing a lead role especially in the harmonious field of gender-sensitive employment for its citizens. Many laws and regulations have been made to combat the ideas and practices of depriving women of their rights. But the provisions regarding the rights of women in these instruments have failed to show proper success, mainly due to a deficient societal approach, including values of the society and the mind setup of its inhabitants, especially the males who dominate the country. Legal lacuna, religious misconceptions and misinterpretations, and patriarchal interpretation of law reinforce the mindset of the society to be more problematic. This paper depicts the framework of the empowerment of women, comments on the legal, social and religious status of women in Bangladesh, identifies key challenges for empowering women and suggests some recommendations to overcome thereof. 


Ahmed, N. (2015). Does the gender budget empower women? Dhaka Tribune [Online] 26th June See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/op-ed/2015/jun/26/does-gender-budget-empower-women#sthash.JOEz0fk2.dpuf [Accessed: September 18, 2015].
Ahmad, Qazi K. (2014). Massage. International Conference on Gender and Women Empowerment, November 13-14, 2014, Institute of Microfinance (InM). Dhaka. p.08. Available from: http://www.inm.org.bd/document/Conference%20Volume_International%20conference%202014.pdf [Accessed: September 18, 2015]
Ain o Salish Kendra (2015). [Onlin] July 08, 2015. Available at: http://www.askbd.org/ask/2015/07/08/violence-women-rape-fatwa-salish-sexual-harassment.
Ali, Saheen S. (2000). Gender and Human Rights in Islamic and International law. The Hague, London and Boston: Kluwer Law International. p.140.
Alim, A. (2015). An Investigation into the Application of Family Law in Rural Bangladesh. As a part of LLM course work at the University of Dhaka, a study was conducted on 25 families in the village CHANCHARA of Bhola District regarding the practical application of dower, maintenance and inheritance. Dhaka: University of Dhaka.
Anday, K.P. (2010). Can Local Government Reform Empower Women Socially? Experience from Bangladesh. Journal of Critical Studies in Business and Society. Vol. 1, No. 1-2, pp. 94-119
Batliwala, S. (1994). The Meaning of Women’s Empowerment: New Concepts from Action. In: G. Sen, A. Germain, and L.C. Chen (eds). Cambridge Population Policies Reconsidered: Health, Empowerment and Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p.130.
BLD- Bangladesh Law Digest, Bangladesh. Available at: http://www.bdlawdigest.org/#gsc.tab=0 [accessed December 22, 2015]
CARE Bangladesh (2011). Women Empowerment in Bangladesh. [Online]. Available from http://www.carebd.org/part_long.php [Accessed: September 02, 2015]
Chowdhury, Jamila A. (2012). Gender Justice in Bangladesh: A Time and Cost Impact to Resolve Family Disputes Through Litigation vs. Court-connected Mediation. Dhaka University Law Journal. Vol. 2, No. 2.
DLR- Dhaka Law Reports, Bangladesh. Available at: http://www.bangladeshsupremecourtbar.com/law-report.php [accessed December 22, 2015]
Duflo, E. (2012) Women Empowerment and Economic Development. Journal of Economic Literature 2012. [Online]. No.50 (4). p.1051–1079. Available from: http://economics.mit.edu/files/7417 [Accessed: September 18, 2015]
Eyben, R. (2011) Supporting Pathways of Women’s Empowerment: A Brief Guide for International Development Organisations. Pathways Policy Paper. Brighton: Pathways of Women’s Empowerment RPC.
Farouk, Sh.A. (2005). Violence against Women: a Statistical Overview, Challenges and Recommendations. Dhaka: Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA).
GOONESEKERE, S. (n.d.) A RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO REALIZING GENDER EQUALITY. [Online]. UN Division for the Advancement of Women. Available from: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/news/savitri.htm [Accessed: September 17, 2015]
Hannan, C. (2006) Empowering Women: Ten years after the Beijing Conference. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.
Hartman, B. & Boyce, J. (1998). A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village. San Francisco: Food First Books.
Hasan, K.M.J. (2012). Mediation in the Family Courts: Bangladesh Experience. Unpublished Paper in the First South Asia Regional Judicial Colloquium on Access to Justice. New Delhi, 1-3 November 20012
Hasin, S. (2005). Nari o Mulobad, (women and fundamentalism), 1st ed. Dhaka: Mutahar Hossain, Papyrus.
Islam, Mohammad S. (2014) Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh: A Case Study of Two NGOs. Bangladesh Development Research Working Paper Series (BDRWPS), BDRWPS 23. New York: Bangladesh Development Research Center (BDRC). p.6. Available at: http://www.bangladeshstudies.org/wps/ [Accessed: 16 September 2015]
ILO. (2008). Lower Wages For Bangladeshi Women Raise Concerns About Discrimination, ILO study finds. Press Release, ILO. [Online] September 01, 2008. Available at: http://www.ilo.org/asia/info/public/pr/WCMS_098054/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed: September, 18, 2015]
Islam, F. (2007). In search of the 'Right' Question. The Dhaka University studies. part-F, Vol. XV(2). Iyer, V.K. Krishna (1979) Of Law and Life. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House. p. 145.
Kabeer, N. (1988) Subordination and struggle: women in Bangladesh. New Left Review. No. 168. pp. 95-121.
Karen, M. & Herbert, S. (2003). Women’s Empowerment and Social Context: Results from Five Asian Countries. Washington, DC: World Bank Gender and Development Group.
Kuttab, E. (2014) Empowerment as Resistance: Conceptualizing Palestinian Women's Empowerment. In: A. Cornwall and J. Edwards (eds). Feminisms, Empowerment and Development: Changing Women’s Lives London: Zed Books, p.207.
Mahajan, V. (2012) Women Empowerment and Social Justice: A Social Feminist Social Approach. International Conference on Humanity, History and Society. IPEDR Vol. 34. Singapore: IACSIT Press.
Menski, W.F. (2011). Law as a kite: Managing legal pluralism in the context of Islamic finance. Rome Summer School “Islamic Finance in Europe”. Lecture for 1 July 2011. School of Law, SOAS, University of London. Available from: http://www.assaif.org/index.php/content/download/60704/297288/file/MENSKI_Law%20as%20a%20kite_Managing%20legal%20pluralism%20in%20the%20context%20of%20Islamic%20finance.pdf [Accessed: September 12, 2015]
Monsoor, T. (2008). Gender Equity and Economic Empowerment: Family Law and Women in Bangladesh. Dhaka: British Council, EWLR. Mundial, B. (1990). Bangladesh: strategies for enhancing the role of women in economic development. Washington DC: World Bank.
Muthhari, M. (1981). The rights of Women in Islam. Tehran: The World Organization for Islamic Services.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2010). Social Justice. Available at: http://www.naswdc.org/pressroom/features/issue/peace.asp [accessed: December 20, 2015]
Paul-Majumder, P. (2005) National Education Budget of Bangladesh and Women Empowerment Bangladesh. Dhaka: Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS) and Institute for Environment & Development (IED).
Paul-Majumder, P. (2003) Mainstreaming Gender Perspective in the Planning and Development Processes of the Economy with Special Emphasis on the “6th Five Year Plan”: Transport and Communication Sectors. A position paper sponsored jointly by the Policy Leadership and Advocacy for Gender Equality (PLAGE) Project of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and the General Economics Division (GED) of Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Government of Bangladesh.
Rahman, M. & Roy, M.K. (2004). Participation of Women in Rural Local Government- A SocioEconomic Analysis. Bangladesh Journal of Political Economy. Vol. 22. pp.570-574.
Rhode, D. (1989). Women, the Court and Equity. Sage yearbook in women's policy studies. 3rd Edition.
Siddiqui, Mohammad M. (1966). Women in Islam. La4hore: Institute of Islamic Culture.
Srivastava, M. (2009). Essay on Women Empowerment. [Online] October 4, 2009. Available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=1482560 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1482560 [Accessed: September 12, 2015]
Stevenson, A. & Lindberg, Christine A. (eds) (2010) New Oxford American Dictionary. 3rd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sultana, S. & Hasan, S.S. (2010). Impact of Micro-Credit on Economic Empowerment of Rural Women. A Scientific Journal of Krishi Foundation. The Agriculturists 8(2): 43-49.
Toowoomba Catholic Education. (2006). See details at http://www.tsjc.org/ [accessed: December 20, 2015].
United Nations Population Information Network (POPIN) (n.d.) Guideline on Women's Empowerment for the UN Resident Coordinator System. [Online]. New York: UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Available from: http://www.un.org/popin/unfpa/taskforce/guide/iatfwemp.gdl.html [Accessed: September 02, 2015]. United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA). (1994) Issue 7: Women Empowerment. [Online]. New York: UNFPA. Available from: http://www.unfpa.org/resources/issue-7-women-empowerment [Accessed: September 17, 2015].
United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA). (n.d.) Empowering Women. [Online]. Available from: http://web.lb.unfpa.org/gender/empowerment.htm [Accessed: September 17, 2015].
UNOHCHR (2014). Women Rights are Human Rights. New York and Geneva:UNOHCHR. p. 4. UN Women. (2010). Women’s Empowerment Principles. [Online]. Available at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/partnerships/businesses-and-foundations/womens-empowerment-principles [Accessed September 16, 2015].
UN Women. (2015). SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Available at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs/sdg-5-gender-equality#sthash.cPtbKzXV.dpuf [accessed: December 20, 2015].
Walker, N. (2013). Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh: Looking beyond the MDG’s. Forum. Vol.7, Issue 3. Dhaka: The Daily Star. Available from: http://archive.thedailystar.net/forum/2013/March/women.htm or http://archive.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/womens-empowerment-in-bangladesh-looking-beyond-the-mdgs/ [Accessed: September, 15].