Title Voices to Choices (International Development in Focus)
Subtitle Bangladesh’s Journey in Women’s Economic Empowerment
Author Jennifer L. Solotaroff, Aphichoke Kotikula, Tara Lonnberg, Snigdha Ali, Rohini P. Pande, Ferdous Jahan
ISBN 9781464813740
List price USD 45.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 286
Book size 216 x 279 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher The World Bank
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
About the book Send Enquiry


“Women have experienced significant changes in various spheres of their lives during the last decades as Bangladesh made economic progress. Yet women’s economic engagement and empowerment are subdued, as they cannot make sufficient choices for themselves. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the economic developments in gender equality in Bangladesh. Through examining women’s participation in the labour force, ownership and control of household assets, use and control of financial assets, and opportunities for entrepreneurship, the authors have made concrete recommendations to overcome challenges that lie ahead for women’s economic empowerment. This book is an important contribution to the knowledge on interventions required by the policy makers and broader stakeholders towards narrowing gender gaps.”

—Fahmida Khatun, PhD, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bangladesh

“The women’s story is central to Bangladesh’s economic and social transformation. There is an urgent need to deepen researched understanding of the multidimensional pathways of women’s economic empowerment and extent of real progress made. Voices to Choices is an important contribution to this story. Surely, the journey of women’s economic empowerment remains a long and challenging one. Realizing the full benefits of new opportunities is often hampered by both new and entrenched insecurities. The task is as much one of empowering women’s agency as of dismantling barriers. The responsibility is as much women’s as society’s.”

—Hossain Zillur Rahman, PhD, Executive Chairman, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC)

“This book provides critical insights and is timely, as it outlines how girls and women in Bangladesh have gained more opportunities in labor force participation, control over household and financial assets, as well as greater prospects for entrepreneurship. The findings will greatly contribute to future policy and planning for government and key stakeholders working to advance women’s economic empowerment in the country.”

—Sabina Faiz Rashid, PhD, Dean and Professor, BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health BRAC University


This book analyzes advances in women’s economic engagement and empowerment in rural and urban Bangladesh. It concludes that despite notable improvement, women’s economic choices and control remain limited. Female labor force participation rose 10 percentage points between 2003 and 2016, and the gender wage gap shrank; societal attitudes toward women’s land ownership are evolving; and women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship rates are improving. Women’s labor force participation still is less than half that of men, however. Women are confined to a narrower range of occupations—in mostly informal sector jobs—and are still less likely to own land than men. The financial gender gap remains stubbornly large. Women from ethnic and religious minorities face ‘double’ discrimination on several of these fronts. Stakeholders need to address foundational societal and market barriers, such as sexual and other forms of harassment, mobility constraints, high transactional costs, and lack of formal childcare, while developing accurate gender–disaggregated data to track progress. Despite achieving Millennium Development Goal Target 1 to halve poverty between 1990 and 2015, Bangladesh remains one of the world’s poorer countries. Improvements in engaging and empowering women economically—particularly disadvantaged women—is a clear next step in growing the Bangladeshi economy and maintaining progress in poverty reduction and inclusive development. This book provides recommendations and good practices on how to do so.




About the Authors

Executive Summary


Chapter 1: Introduction • Rationale • Main objectives • Overview of the country and the macroeconomic context • Social norms and gender relations • Economic empowerment and organizing framework • Data and methods • Book roadmap • Notes • References

Chapter 2: Gender Gaps in Bangladesh’s Labor Market Outcomes • Patterns of labor force participation and employment status over time: Descriptive statistics • Employment by sector • Unemployment and employment status • Relative importance of different barriers and enablers to women’s LFP and employment • Gender differentials in earnings • Good practices and recommendations • Data gaps • Conclusion • Notes • References

Chapter 3: Ownership and Control over Productive Assets • Gender gaps in productive assets • Causes of gender gaps in asset ownership • Good practices and recommendations • Conclusion • Notes • References

Chapter 4: Use and Control of Financial Assets • Gender differences in access to and use of financial services • Women’s control over financial assets • Barriers to women’s use and control of finances • Good practices and recommendations • Data gaps • Conclusion • Notes • References

Chapter 5: Female Entrepreneurship • What is a SME? • Patterns and trends of women’s entrepreneurship • Barriers to women’s entrepreneurship • Good practices and recommendations • Data gaps • Notes • References

Chapter 6: Economic Empowerment Patterns among Ethnic Minority Groups in Bangladesh • Overview: Situation of key minority and ethnic groups • Differentials in women’s labor force participation • Differentials in ownership and control over assets • Barriers to minority women’s economic empowerment • Enabling factors for minority women’s economic empowerment • Good practices and recommendations • Data gaps • Notes • References

Chapter 7: Taking Action to Improve Women’s Economic Empowerment in Bangladesh • Women’s economic empowerment has increased, but choices remain limited • Recommended roles and responsibilities of various stakeholder groups • Conclusion • References

Appendix A: Bangladesh Country Gender Statistical Profile

Appendix B: Full Regression Results for Labor Outcomes

Appendix C: Full Regression Results for Relationship of Child Marriage with FLFP and Women’s Education

Appendix D: Full Regression Results for Assets

Appendix E: Full Regression Results for Women’s Control over Credit (Rural Bangladesh)

Appendix F: Ethnic and Religious Minorities





About the Authors:

Snigdha Ali is a researcher and development practitioner with more than 10 years of experience in gender, research, qualitative methods, and management. She has worked on crosscutting issues affecting women and nutrition, climate change, infrastructure, economic engagement, and gender and social norms. Prior to co-authoring this book, she worked at the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Bangladesh as Program Head for two departments, and managed two teams and six projects. She has also worked for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). She has experience in evaluating gender inclusion in World Bank operations, organizational gender mainstreaming at BRAC, and grassroots advocacy, project operations, stakeholder engagement, and policy advocacy at the national level. Ali has a master’s of social science in economics from the University of Dhaka, and a master’s of social science in development sociology from Cornell University.

Ferdous Jahan is an academic who blends teaching, research, evaluation, and practice in her work. She currently works at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2007, she has been working with the World Bank as a consultant to provide support in project design, implementation, and evaluations in areas of social safeguards, gender, and citizens’ engagement. Her projects at the Bank include education, energy, health, and transportation. She has also conducted numerous evaluations for the Asian Development Bank (ADB), UKAID, European Union, UN Systems (International Labour Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and World Food Programme), Save the Children, and CARE International. Jahan’s work experience covers the regions of East Africa, South Asia, South East Asia, United Kingdom, and the United States. She has a doctorate in political science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Aphichoke (Andy) Kotikula is a Senior Economist with the Gender Group of the World Bank, where he works on research to promote more and better jobs for women, and greater gender equality in property ownership.  Before that, he worked in the World Bank South Asia Region on projects and reports related to poverty reduction and gender equality in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. He is the lead author of the book, Interwoven: How the Better Work Program Improves Job and Life Quality in the Apparel Sector (2015). He holds a doctorate and master’s degree in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Chulalongkorn University.

Tara Lonnberg is a Development Practitioner with more than 10 years of experience in social and urban development at the World Bank. Her work has focused on women’s economic empowerment, gender-based violence, financial inclusion, local governance and accountability, and urban regeneration. Prior to this book, she co-authored the book, Leveraging the Potential of Argentine Cities and managed a pilot project in Bangladesh on women’s economic empowerment and violence against women. She has undertaken operational work and conducted research in South Asia, Latin America, and East Africa. Lonnberg holds a master’s  degree from the London School of Economics, and a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, Columbia University.

Rohini Prabha Pande has more than 20 years of research and program experience in gender and development. Prior to this book, she co-authored a book on violence against women and girls in South Asia. Before coming to the World Bank, she worked at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) for over eight years, leading intervention research programs in South Asia that focused on adolescent reproductive health and empowerment. She has worked, also, with the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, CARE International, and other nongovermental organizations in South Asia and West Africa on female education, women’s income generation, and women’s empowerment. Pande has a doctorate from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and an MPA from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jennifer Lynn Solotaroff is the Team Leader for this book, and a Senior Social Development Specialist with the Gender Group of the World Bank. Previously, she worked in the World Bank South Asia Region’s Social Development unit on tasks related to gender and social inclusion, women’s economic empowerment, and microenterprise in South Asian countries, with particular attention to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Recently, she led the South Asia Gender Innovation Lab and the South Asia Regional Gender Action Plan FY16–21. She is the lead author of the book, Violence against Women and Girls: Lessons from South Asia (2014) and the forthcoming Getting to Work: Unlocking Women’s Potential in Sri Lanka’s Labor Force. Her research interests include gender and labor markets, gender-based violence, and social stratification in South Asia and East Asia. Solotaroff has a doctorate in sociology and masters’ degrees in economics and East Asian studies from Stanford University. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Target Audience:

Useful for people interested in Economics, Labour Studies and Gender Studies. This book is an important contribution to the knowledge on interventions required by the policy makers and broader stakeholders towards narrowing gender gaps.

Special prices are applicable to the authorised sales territory only.
Prices are subject to change without prior notice.