Last week The Economist devoted one of its lead editorials and its briefing section to an extended discussion of Bangladesh society. Emphasis was put on the role of NGOs, on the role of women, and on the importance of achieving decent education and health outcomes.
Here are a few quotes from the editorial:
“In the past 20 years, Bangladesh has made extraordinary improvements in almost every indicator of human welfare. The average Bangladeshi can now expect to live four years longer than the average Indian, though Indians are twice as rich. Girls’ education has soared, and the country has hugely reduced the numbers of early deaths of infants, children and mothers. Some of these changes are among the fastest social improvements ever seen. Remarkably, the country has achieved all this even though economic growth, until recently, has been sluggish and income has risen only modestly.”
“Bangladesh shows what happens if you take women seriously as agents of development. When the country became independent, population-control policies were all the rage (this was the period of China’s one-child policy and India’s forced sterilisations). Happily lacking the ability to impose such savage restrictions, the government embarked instead upon a programme of voluntary family planning. It was stunningly successful. It not only halved the rate of fertility within a generation, but also increased women’s influence within their own households. For the first time, wives controlled the size of families.”
“…the textile industry took off—and four-fifths of its workers are female. Bangladesh was also the home of microcredit, tiny loans for the poorest. By design, these go to women. Thus, over the past two decades women have earned greater influence in the home and more financial autonomy. And, as experience from round the world shows, women spend their money differently from men: typically, on their children’s food, health and education. Child welfare has been underpinned by a quiet revolution in the role of women.”
To View the full article, visit: The Economist: The Path Through the Fields