Strengthening Knowledge-Driven Development in South Asia

In an initiative to assist the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), and development partners to incorporate approaches for gender equality and empowerment of women into selected sectors, we held regional workshops in various districts. The purpose of these workshops was to enhance the capacity of implanting agencies that are mandated to incorporate those approaches and promote gender equality. The interactions with various government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) helped us realise that each of these areas was vibrant with various initiatives, people with innovative ideas, and various rich programmatic experiences. It was enriching to interact with these realities and also gratifying to be able to provide them with cutting edge thinking on addressing gender equality in the various sectors.

Researchers: Asma Huque; Zia Us Sabur; Salma A. Shafi; Maheen Sultan; Kabita Chowdhury; Sahida Islam Khondaker; Pragyna Mahpara; Zia Mohammad

Partners: Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Timeline: 2018-2019

Status: Completed

Contact: Maheen Sultan;


As a part of the Strengthening Knowledge-driven Development in South Asia project, ADB published and launched the Bangladesh Gender Equality Diagnostic of Selected Sectors (GEDSS) report. It highlighted government achievements and programs. At the same time, GEDSS sought to promote gender equality in four sectors, namely education, energy, transport, and urban development. But to achieve that goal, the capacity of the implanting agencies that work in those sectors needs to be enhanced. These agencies are spread throughout all 64 districts. To increase the capacity of these agencies to better integrate gender equality in the selected sectors through their respective projects and programs and exchange knowledge and practices among these agencies, we held regional workshops in Chattogram, Khulna/Jessore, North Bengal (Rangpur), Barisal (coastal area), Sylhet, and Comilla.


Through these regional workshops, our objective was to achieve:

  • Increased capacity among sector professionals and government officials to better integrate gender mainstreaming actions into sector-specific interventions;
  • Transformed attitudes, perceptions and behaviours among sector professionals related to gender equality and women’s empowerment; and
  • Exchange of knowledge and practices by collecting experiences on good practices and challenges in addressing gender equality in sectoral programs.

This study is relevant to SDG 5 (Gender Equality), particularly to achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Findings and Recommendations

In the workshops, participants raised a number of issues. Among them, many of the issues had not got sufficient coverage in the 2017 GEDSS report. In the urban sector, for example, the problems of faecal sludge management; menstrual hygiene; and waterlogging in cities such as Chittogram and Sylhet were not mentioned in GEDSS. The report also did not shed much light on the issues of housing including rent control, shelter homes and hostels for working women. Meanwhile, in the energy sector, the Power Development Board and its affiliated institutions revealed their limitations of human resources to deliver renewable energy. Some cross-sectoral issues were also identified, including the lack of communication and coordination between the government, NGOs, and the private sector. Another general issue identified was that gender action plans are mandatory for donor-funded projects but private companies do not have incentives to follow gender action plans. Although in each workshop each working group was able to identify numerous good practices, due to time constraints and documentation purposes, we chose two or three of those practices. They were further developed with some further inputs from the persons and organisations who had proposed them.

The entire exercise showed how important it is to take studies like GEDSS to the planners, policymakers, implementers, public representatives, NGOs, academics, and private sector professionals who work in the selected sectors and who will be responsible for taking forward the issues and recommendations through their work. By relating the study findings with their own experiences and then deciding what they would do to address the issues and gaps in terms of gender equality, it produces greater commitment for what they can do to bring greater gender quality through their work.