This review examines selected policies and plans of the Government of Bangladesh and available research in Bangladesh in response to the need to address unpaid care work – the work, mainly done by women and girls, of caring for others (often called reproductive work), at the policy level.
Its purpose is to look at whether and the extent to which unpaid care work is addressed in existing national laws, Government policies and research in Bangladesh. The review was undertaken as part of a collaborative project on ‘Gender, Power and Sexuality’ involving the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the UK, SMERU in Indonesia, and the Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) in Bangladesh, that aims to ensure inclusion of unpaid care work on the national and global policy agendas.
The findings from the review reveal that unpaid care work has primarily featured in a limited way, and mostly as background noise both at the research and policy level in Bangladesh. The search for pathways to women’s empowerment in Bangladesh has focused on women’s participation in paid work and this is reflected in both policies and research. In this regard, unpaid care work has mainly featured as a constraint to women’s participation in paid work. Although rarely addressed directly in policies or in research to date, some very recent changes indicate the creation of new spaces in policies for the emergence and recognition of unpaid care work.