Voice of the Women's Empowerment in the 21st Century in Bangladesh


At the dawn of the 21st century, the discourse surrounding women’s rights has gained unparalleled drive, captivating global attention and sparking transformative conversations. In the dynamic landscape of the 21st century, the resonance of women’s rights echoes with renewed significance. The research topic delves into the strengthening narrative of empowerment for women in this South Asian nation. The aim is too many-sided dimensions of women’s rights and the transformative potential that lies within positing gender equality. This inquiry seeks to intersect socio-cultural dynamics, political sceneries, and the rising role of women in shaping a more unbiased and empowered society. This paper is a diverse array of the methodological approaches where it intricately examines the nuanced area of women’s development in Bangladesh, with a specific emphasis on the critical analysis of women’s empowerment. Focused on the intricate experiences and challenges confronting women in the 21st century, the study places paramount importance on the identification of pivotal domains wherein women grapple with impediments to realizing their entitlements fully, simultaneously shedding light on structural constraints. The research evaluates the efficacy of various methods and programs designed to empower women, thereby providing nuanced insights into transformative initiatives that are actively shaping societal dynamics. A more profound exploration delves into the substantial hurdles women face in the exercise of their rights, encapsulating societal norms, cultural intricacies, and systemic impediments.

Threads of Time: A Historical Context

In the maze of Bangladesh’s past, where empires rose and rivers whispered stories, the journey of women’s rights begins. Picture the early years, where traditions knit a delicate web around Bangladeshi women, defining their roles with the ink of societal expectations. Like the sun of independence , the story took a revolutionary transformation, which turned into an unpredictable era for women.. Women arose from the shadows as warriors in the Liberation War of 1971, drawing their names in the story of a new nation which was named as Bangladesh. The echoes of their courage which resonate throughout the time, set up the period for a new chapter in the tapestry of women’s empowerment.

The Dance of Movements: The Turning Tides

Step closer to witness the dance of movements that turned through the history of Bangladesh. The Women’s Rehabilitation Board takes center stage, a performance of resilience and reconstruction after the war’s tumult. Each movement, from the establishment of the National Women’s Development Policy to the winds of change blowing through societal norms, tells a tale of transformation. These were not mere events; they were the strokes of a brush crafting a portrait of Bangladeshi women reclaiming their agency.

 Legal Weavings: Crafting the Framework of Empowerment

In the realm of legislation, the legal loom of Bangladesh intricately weaves the rights of its women. Watch as the threads of the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1980 begin to spin, unraveling the oppressive practices of the past. Travel through time, witnessing the emergence of landmark laws like the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act of 2000, a fortress against crimes targeting women. The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act of 2010 becomes a shield protecting the sanctity of homes. The legal canvas is not without its challenges. The brushstrokes fade in implementation, also revealing the gaps that demand the artist’s touch for refinement.

Intersectionality: Where Threads of Identity Intertwine

Dive into the vibrant hues of intersectionality as legislation meets the diverse identities of Bangladeshi women. Each legislation that enactment serves as a reflective surface, explaining the distinctive challenges encountered by women belonging to marginalized communities. In the legal process, the interplay of the race, religion, and socioeconomic status which contributes to a comprehensive understanding of the complexities that women face at the intersection of multiple identities.The historical odyssey unfolds—a tale of bravery, resilience, and legislation shaping the narrative of women’s rights in Bangladesh. The threads of time and legal intricacies intertwine and set the stage for a deeper exploration into the vibrant tapestry of empowerment in the 21st century.

Socio-cultural Factors

In the intricate tapestry of my life as a woman in 21st-century Bangladesh, navigating the social landscape feels like a delicate dance between tradition and transformation. From a young age, whispers of those societal norms and the expectations are wrapped around every girl like a tightly woven sari. The weight of the traditions pressed against every little dream, is an urge for a girl to conform to a predetermined script. Patriarchal structures, handed down through generations like a relic, cast shadows over my ambitions, reminding me of the limits prescribed by a society steeped in age-old beliefs. The intricacies of familial expectations dictated my choices, threading through the fabric of my existence. The echoes that always whisper of “this is how it’s always been” through every decision, a constant reminder of the roles that are defined for women. Among all these societal constraints, I found the rhythm of my own voice, a melody that sought to harmonize with the changing chords of empowerment. As I navigate the cultural intricacies of Bangladesh, I am not just a woman; I am a storyteller, weaving a narrative of resilience and defiance against the backdrop of socio-cultural norms that have sought to define and confine me.

In 21st Century Bangladesh, there are few important steps that have been taken towards gender equality. According to the UN Women Data Hub, here are some of the key gender equality indicators for Bangladesh:

  • Family Planning: In 2019, 77.4% of women of reproductive age (15-49 years) had their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods.

  • Legal Frameworks: 75% of legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality under the SDG indicator, with a focus on violence against women, are in place.

  • Child Marriage: 51.4% of women aged 20–24 years old were married or in a union before age 18.

  • Adolescent Birth Rate: The adolescent birth rate is 74 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 as of 2019.

  • Women in Parliament: As of February 2021, only 20.9% of seats in parliament were held by women.

  • Violence Against Women: In 2018, 23.2% of women aged 15-49 years reported that they had been subject to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months.

These indicators show that while progress has been made, there is some work that should be done to achieve gender equality in Bangladesh. The way to give every woman a voice is to support gender equality through education, economic involvement, political representation, and legal rights. Every single step where the path of progress goes towards the world where women are seen as equal and valued ones of the society.

Challenges and Barriers

The research is for Women’s Rights in the 21st century in Bangladesh underscores the occurrence of substantial challenges and formidable barriers. Notwithstanding advancements in gender equality, deeply ingrained societal norms and cultural frameworks present formidable obstacles. The focal points of concern encompass disparate educational opportunities, restricted economic prospects for women, and a pronounced gender schism within political domains. The enduring presence of entrenched stereotypes and discriminatory practices further complicates the attainment of comprehensive women’s rights. This research aims to scrutinize the multifaceted challenges confronted by women in Bangladesh, explaining the barriers that obstruct the full realization of their voices’ empowerment in the contemporary era.

Women’s empowerment in Bangladesh faces several challenges and barriers:

Societal Norms and Attitudes: Many women in Bangladesh believe in the traditional social values and superstitions. This leads to women being dependent on men1. It seems like, boys are still more born than girls because they are the heirs to the family, this tradition or ritual goes from the past. It is true that this is the situation among all communities and also in the groups (Shajahan, 2017).

Economic Disparities: Women’s socio-economic condition is very poor1. Men and women’s participation in social development is not equal1. Women who always do a lot of things inside and outside that don’t seem to work as they think men only work for the family (Shajahan, 2017).

Education: Despite commendable advances in female education and gender parity in primary and secondary schools, high dropout rates and poor quality of education remain major concerns (Rahman, 2020).

Healthcare: Women and young girls continue to suffer from various diseases like cancers, especially in rural areas (Rahman, 2020).

Despite from various all these challenges, there have been successful initiatives and strategies that have contributed to women’s empowerment in Bangladesh:

Education: Primary education is now available to all children, and both boys and girls finish school after an average of seven years (Shajahan, 2017).

Economic Empowerment: Female participation in microfinance activities has led to an increased sense of empowerment, measured by factors such as social acceptance, political involvement, decision-making, which in turn have led to general welfare improvements (Shajahan, 2017).

Political Representation: Women occupy a broader range of roles in their society—as factory workers, teachers and students, entrepreneurs, officials, prime ministers, models, journalists, protestors, international peacekeepers, migrant workers, police officers (UN Women, 2022).

Legal Frameworks: 75% of legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality under the SDG indicator are in place (UN Women, 2022).

The stories of success in these stories shows how far Bangladesh has progressed in its journey towards gender equality. Besides, each success story shows how important it is to keep working to solve and get over from the past the problems that will keep coming up.

This research paper took through a variety of sources, but three stood out prominently. First, this research discusses the impact of the literature through Taslima Nasrin’s works. Nasrin, who is a Bangladeshi author and also has faced persecution for her outspoken views on women’s rights. Her writing serves as a powerful tool to challenge societal norms and advocate for gender equality (Khan, 2016). Second, this research delved into the grassroots movement led by the organizations like Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), which empowers women through legal aid and awareness programs. ASK’s approach intrigued me—using legal frameworks to catalyze social change and elevate women’s status (ASK, 2020). Lastly, the investigation examines the role of digital platforms. Female activists and authors in Bangladesh use social media as a platform to distribute their personal experiences, foster relationships with individuals who share their interests, and solicit assistance for their respective cause (Chowdhury, 2017).


Ain o Salish Kendra. (2020, June 30). “COVID-19 and the Increase of Domestic Violence against Women: The Bangladesh Perspective.” https://www.askbd.org/ask/2020/06/30/covid-19-and-the-increase-of-domestic-violence-against-women-the-bangladesh-perspective/.

Amin, Sajeda. (2021, March 4). “Sajeda Amin: Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh.” The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University. https://mittalsouthasiainstitute.harvard.edu/2021/03/sajeda-amin-womens-empowerment-in-bangladesh/.

Chowdhury, Anita. (2017, June 18). “Social media: A game-changer for Bangladeshi women.” The Daily Star. https://www.thedailystar.net/perspective/social-media-game-changer-bangladeshi-women-1421557.

Khan, Junaid Khalid. (2016, June 2). “Gender Discrimination and Role of Modern Literature in the Fiction of Taslima Nasrin with special reference to Lajja.https://ijcrt.org/papers/IJCRT1133915.pdf.

Khatiwada, Sameer. (2014, January 29). “A Quiet Revolution: Women in Bangladesh.” International Labour Organization. http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_234670/lang–en/index.htm

Rahman, Mustafizur Md. (2020, August 12). “The Empowerment of Women in Bangladesh: Not Just Rhetoric.” National University of Singapore Institute of South Asian Studies. https://www.isas.nus.edu.sg/papers/the-empowerment-of-women-in-bangladesh-not-just-rhetoric/

 Shajahan, Sadia Bintee. (2017, September 10). “Challenges of Women Empowerment in Bangladesh.” The Asian Age Online.  http://dailyasianage.com/news/84674

UN Women. (n.d.). “Country Fact Sheet: Bangladesh.” UN Women Data Hub. https://data.unwomen.org/country/bangladesh

UN Women. (2022, October). “Gender Equality Brief: Bangladesh | October 2022,” UN Women – Asia-Pacific. https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2022/10/gender-equality-brief-from-bangladesh.