Assessment of 4 SDGs that affect women’s rights and the scenario of access to justiceUBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative) || Wednesday 05 April 2023 ||
A field survey was carried out about the situation of the poor communities in different districts of Bangladesh in light of five sustainable Development Goals SDG2, SDG3, SDG5 and SDG16.
The 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, which is an urgent call for action by all countries. Bangladesh also recognizes the importance of the goals is working towards attaining goals to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. Four SDGs (SDG2, SDG3, SDG5 and SDG16) are selected for a short field-based information collection to assess the situation faced by the poorer communities, particularly women. The Sustainable Development Goal 2 is about creating a world free of hunger by 2030. In Bangladesh By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round. The SDG3 is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. In Bangladesh SDG3 is about reduction of maternal mortality rate, mortality of children under 5, coverage of essential health services etc.. The SDG5 is to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere and eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation and one of the important targets of the SDG16 is promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
In this small survey with participation of the district-level women’s organizations, the SDG assessments become more meaningful as the information collected was from the poorer communities that they are working with. The research helped the organizations capacity building in understanding the SDGs and reflecting on their works with the poor and marginalized communities. The findings of the research will have to the communities and the necessary actions taken will have direct implications for the information providers.
To analyse the situation of women in the poorer communities in terms of poverty, health, gender equality and access to institutional services
Narigrantha Prabartana undertook this study with the members of the Women and Biodiversity Network (WBN) in 10 districts. The districts are Dhaka, Jamalpur, Sylhet, Bandarban, Magura, Satkhira, Cox ‘s bazar, Nilphamari, Rangpur and Thakurgaon, taking 20 samples from each area. The member organizations were given a questionnaire developed by Narigrantha research team and they conducted the interviews by visiting the households. The total sample size was 200. The areas from which the sample families were interviewed were the poorer neighbourhoods in the town.
The study was conducted with female respondents as provider of the information to have gender perspective on the issues of poverty, health, gender equality, and justice.
A. Profile of the Respondents
All the respondents were female members of the families, mostly wives of the head of the households (69%). About 32 respondents (16%) identified themselves as the heads of households themselves in the absence of a male breadwinner. Eleven percent of the respondents are earning members in the family in addition to the male head of the family. Among them two women are divorced so they are staying with their families as an earning member.
The respondents were mostly young (61%) in the age group of 30 – 49 years. About 21% were older, over 50 years and only 18% were very young between 20 – 29 years.
Over one-third (39%) of the respondents did not have literacy, only 36% had primary education and the rest one quarter had education from secondary to higher secondary level. The national literacy rate for 2020 was 74.91% that is only 25% are illiterate at the national level. The sample families show a higher illiteracy rate (39%). Ninety-three percent of the respondents were married, 2% unmarried, 2% divorced and 3% widowed.
The main occupations of the respondents was day labour (50%) and wage worker (26%). The other occupations are service, business and farmer. The business included tea stalls, small cloth shop, streetfood (Chatpoti) cosmetic shop, tailor etc. The service include garment work and cleaner. Farming work includes working in other people land.
Majority of the respondents are Muslims (97%), five are hindu (2%) and 2 respondents from indigenous communities.
B. Family profile
Most families (86%) are nuclear, and 14% are joint families. Nearly half of the adult family members are young (47%) in age range of 21 – 35 years followed by 24% in the age range of 36- 45 years. These members are able to contribute to the family. About 16% are above 46 years and about 12% are above 55 years, i.e. older people. There are about 628 members in the 200 sample households, size 3.1 members per household. The number of male members is 287 and number of female members is 341, more females than males in the households.
Most households (42%) of the respondents have children in the age range of 6 to 10 years. About a quarter have children aged less than 5 years, and one-third have less than 17 years. Interestingly the gender distribution is equal for boys and girls.
The status of children’s education is very low. While the primary education is free, yet only 53% of the families have children going to schools. Out of these, nearly half (49%) are going to government schools, 10% in NGO run schools, 4% in Madrasha and 36% in other non-formal schools. Here poor people are deprived of getting formal education.
Eleven households, (6%) reported of disability of a family member. Among them, the relationship with the respondent is husband, mother, daughter, mother-in-Law, sister in Law and aunt. Most of the disabled are older persons, but two are young (less than 35 years) and other two are less than 20 years.
Family economic condition
More than half of the families have one or two earning members. While it is expected that 100% of the families have husbands as the earning members, here it shows only 52% of the households. For 200 households there are only 260 earning members, i.e. only 1.3 persons per family. The respondents as wife or the head of the household is an earning member for 22% of the households; son as an earning member in 11% households and daughter 1%.
In 93 households (47%) there are no earning members, in 102 households (52%) there are one or two earning members. In only 2 households there are three earning members. That means, husband and wife are running the families, and in many cases women are responsible for the family bread. The more earning member a family has, the more they are better off in terms total income earned.
The Average Daily Income is only Tk. 276 (Median Tk. 252), which represents the income of the 118 households (59%). One-third of the households have an income of less than Tk. 500, and only 8% earn over 500%.
The Average Monthly Income of the head of the household is Tk. 8,378 (Median Tk. 7,317), which represents the majority households (121) i.e. 6)% and 26% have less than Tk. 15000 per month.
The families do not have work to earn an income all the days of a month. About 83% have work between 21 to 30 days, 16% have work less than 20 days of a month.
House and land assets
Fifty two percent of the families own the house they are living, 21% are in rented house, 17% live in other people’s house and 10% live in government Khas land.
The information about household land ownership was not available for 45 respondents (22%). Among those who provided information more than half (53%) have no land. Only 41% have small pieces of land of less than 10 decimals only 5% have 11-30 decimals and only 2 households (1%) have
Eighty three percent families have permanent addresses, and 16% do not have any. It shows from the landlessness status of the families that they may not have any land in their villages, so may not have anywhere to go back.
Ninety percent of the families do not have any other assets, and only 7% reported some assets.
These assets include cows (2%), chicken (25%), goat (1%) and a combination of the chicken goat is 2%. Seventy percent families do not have assets either.
C. Status of families under SDG2
The access to food was assessed through two types of information such as daily food consumption (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and days without food (if any).
The pattern of daily food included mostly rice all three times a day. In the morning it is often the leftover rice taken with leftover vegetables or pulses. The main food cooked is only at lunch or for dinner only which includes the following:
|Food consumption items||Total||%|
|Rice+ Pulses+ Vegetables||33||18|
|Rice+ Pulses+ Egg||49||27|
|Rice+ Pulses+ Vegetables+ Fish||24||13|
The common food items are rice+pulse+egg (27%) and rice+vegetables (22%). Poultry egg being cheap it has become a common food item for poor people. In the vegetables, it is mostly potato and other cheap vegetables. Fish consumption is very low (12%) and only rice and pulses for 7%.
Meat consumption is found only once in a while for 3 families ad milk consumption in only 1 family. Some families referred to shop food, which means bread (Pau roti) and tea from the tea stall which is consumed by male members of the family in 9 families.
The families cannot ensure food for all the days in a month. Asked if there were days without food, the response was positive for 57 families (28%), and out of these 57 families, 26% had no food for 1-5 days, 72% had no food for 6-10 days and 2% had no food 11-15 days.
It is very unfortunate to see that while they lack of food because of low income, tobacco consumption among family members is high. About 29% families reported of smoking of male members, 27% use of smokeless tobacco (Zarda and Sada pata) and 17% for both i.e. use of zarda and and Zarda and cigarette/bidi in 35 families. The use of gul (smokeless tobacco) is 26%. Altogether, the use of smokeless tobacco is high both among men and women.
D. Status of families under SDG3
Access of families to government healthcare was assessed, 88% families (176) responded positively about using government hospitals. Among those using government hospital 75% get services from the district hospital, only 16% in the Upazilla hospital and the rest in the other places (14 families). The nearest health facilities are the upazilla hospital, but they not have treatment facilities for all kinds of diseases and particularly for women. So they have to run to the district hospitals which are far from the villages. The other health services include private doctor, market doctor, medicine shop and kabiraj. Interestingly more than 50% go to a pharmacy and ask for medicine, 33% go to a private doctor (MBBS), and 12% go to a market doctor, who may not be a qualified doctor; 4% go to kabiraj. However, those who went to receive health services, only 61% were satisfied.
Poor families cannot afford to remain sick. Fifty-seven percent reported that they could not go out for work because of illness.
In terms of reproductive health of women, only 7 women were found to be pregnant. Sixteen families reported death of newborn babies (last six months) ; twenty one wome reported problems related to child birth facilities.
Sixty percent of children under five were vaccinated.
E. Status of families under SDG 5
Almost all women reported of engagement in household activities which included cooking, child rearing, livestock rearing etc.
Women do not have rights to land, only 3% reported having some ownership of agriculture land through inheritance. Only 6% women got inheritance right. They have little understanding about women’s rights. Only 12% could respond positively to the question on women’s rights.
F. Status of families under SDG16
Although most of the families are in the category of poor from their income and food status, only 19% reported of receiving food support during the past six months (during July – December 2022). The food support included rice only (18%), pulse and oil (23%), rice and pulse (15%), rice and oil (8%). The sources of this food support were government (18%), NGOs (13%), individuals (43%) and others (26%). This shows that the government support is only 18% which is much less than expected.
The poor people are supposed to get services from the local government bodies and institutions. Only 20% reported of receiving such services and out of 90% are from the union Parishads However, in two cases it was found that the chairman as an individual gave some support to the poor families.
Asked if they go to any government offices in relation to their work during the previous six months. Only 20% have experience of going to a government office and they succeeded (92%) in getting the work done and in only one case they had to bribe the official for work and in one case the work was not done due to inability to pay bribe. In 17 cases (8%) the respondents were harassed at the government office when they went to get services.
Nearly one-third of all the respondents’ family members do not have birth certificate.
The old age/widow/disability allowance was given to 19 households, out of this most(11) were for old age, 3 for widows and 6 for disability.
This study was conducted in diverse location in 10 different districts of the country on the poorer households. It was assumed that the respondent families were poor and deprived of their rights as citizen of the country. The respondents were women so the responses on the poverty conditions were profound.
The summary of the findings are the following:
1. literacy rate of the respondents was very low, only 61%, compared to the The national literacy rate for 2020 was 74.91%. The illiteracy rate among the respondents was higher (39%) compared to only 25% are illiterate at national level.
2. Ninety-three percent of the respondents were married, 2% unmarried, 2% divorced and 3% widowed.
3. There are about 628 members in the 200 sample households, size 3.1 members per household. The number of male members is 287 and number of female members is 341, more females than males in the households.
4. The occupation included lower wage work and small businesses.
5. The status of children’s education is very low. While the primary education is free, yet only 53% of the families have children going to schools .
6. More than half of the families have one or two earning members, in nearly half of the families there are no other income members. So it is the responsibility of the wives to run the household.
7. The Average Daily Income is only Tk. 276 (2.5 USD), which is a bit over the World Bank calculation of 1.90 USD per day. The inflation rate make it even worse.
8. The families do not have work to earn an income all the days of a month. About 83% have work between 21 to 30 days, 16% have work less than 20 days of a month. That means there are days without any income as well.
9. The information on land was not available because women were not aware of it. Yet more than half did not own any land.
SDG2: Access to food
10. Food insecurity is evident. The common food items are rice+pulse+egg (27%) and rice+vegetables (22%). Poultry egg being cheap it has become a common food item for poor people. In the vegetables, it is mostly potato and other cheap vegetables. Fish consumption is very low (12%) and only rice and pulses for 7%.
11. The families cannot ensure food for all the days in a month. Asked if there were days without food, the response was positive for 57 families (28%), and out of these 57 families, 26% had no food for 1-5 days, 72% had no food for 6-10 days and 2% had no food 11-15 days.
SDG3: Access to health
12. The families cannot afford to remain sick nor can they afford to have access to good healthcare. The government facilities are the main source of healthcare (88%), but due to the inadequacy of services at the upazilla and union level they are mostly dependent on the district health services.
13. Poor families cannot afford to remain sick. Fifty-seven percent reported that they could not go out for work because of illness.
SDG5: Women equal rights
14. Equal rights of women are absent. Women do not have rights to land, only 3% reported having some ownership of agriculture land through inheritance. Only 6% women got inheritance right. They have little understanding about women’s rights. Only 12% could respond positively to the question on women’s rights.
SDG16: justice to all
15. The poor people are deprived of the services they are supposed to get from the government institutions and local bodies.
16. Although most of the families are in the category of poor from their income and food status, only 19% reported of receiving food support during the past six months (during July – December 2022). The food support included rice only (18%), pulse and oil (23%), rice and pulse (15%), rice and oil (8%). The sources of this food support were government (18%), NGOs (13%), individuals (43%) and others (26%). This shows that the government support is only 18% which is much less than expected.
This suvey reflected the condition of the poor living in semi-urban areas and are maintaining their livelihood with very little support.