Women and the right of access to information in Bangladesh: a mixed-methods study

Published on 1 May 2016

The following report outlines the findings of a study conducted by the
Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Program and the Manusher
Jonno Foundation, with support from the Bangladesh Information Commissioner
and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs in six districts
of Bangladesh between April and December 2015. The study is
part of a multicountry project to assess the hypothesis that women are
not able to exercise the right to information with the same facility
(frequency, ease, and rate of success) as men. More specifically, if an information
asymmetry was demonstrated, the study went further to
identify the cultural, structural, and legal barriers that women face that
may impede access to public information, as well as to determine women’s
most critical information needs. Local researchers conducting the
assessments collected three types of data: interviews with community
leaders, expert opinion interviews, and nonparticipant observations at
public agencies, with accompanying short interviews of civil servants
and visitors to the agency. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected
in six districts, including Dhaka, Khagrachari, Khulna, Rajshahi,
Rangpur, and Sylhet, in both the sadar and rural upazilas in each district
to provide a more complete view of the issues facing women in exercising
the right to information. Secondary data was collected through desk
research and triangulated with the other data sets. The findings were
notable, indicating the perception of an asymmetry of information flows
based on gender in many of the districts assessed. The study found that
women face great challenges and myriad barriers in accessing government-held
information critical for economic empowerment and the protection
and fulfillment of fundamental rights. The data also illustrated
the perception that information most important to women for gaining
opportunities for advancement is often the most difficult to obtain.
Through participatory validation processes in each of the districts in the
study, additional contextual information and narratives were collected.
The Carter Center, Manusher Jonno Foundation, and additional
Bangladeshi partners, including civil society and government, will utilize
this evidence base to promote creative solutions and actions to
make the right of access to information more meaningful for women in

Cite this publication

The Carter Center (2016) Women and the Right of Access to Information in Bangladesh: A mixed-methods study. Atlanta: The Carter Center

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