Bangladesh has ranked among the bottom of 170 countries in the global Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Index 2021.
The index measures the countries' status in ensuring women's inclusion, justice, and security.
Bangladesh placed 152 among 170 countries. The country slipped 10 notches down from its previous standing of 142nd among 167 countries.
It secured a near average of 0.594 out of 1.00 among South Asian countries, coming ahead of only Afghanistan (170th) and Pakistan (167th) in the region.
The third edition of the index, released on Tuesday, was published by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) Centre on Gender, Peace and Security with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Among all the regions, South Asia performed the worst, showing high levels of legal discrimination, intimate partner violence, and discriminatory norms that disenfranchise women. As a result, no countries in the region were placed in the top and second quintile.
With a score of 0.714, Nepal ranked 95th globally and was considered the best place to be a woman in the region, followed by Sri Lanka (105th), Maldives (112th), Bhutan (129th), and India (148th).
Afghanistan, the world's least safe place for women, ranked at the bottom globally and thus in the region, followed by Pakistan, the fourth worst performer.
Bangladesh has been ahead of only Afghanistan and Pakistan in the region since the first edition of the index.
Despite making improvements in ensuring inclusion, Bangladesh's women face safety issues along with injustice.
The index -- based on three dimensions of Inclusion, Justice, and Security under 11 indicators -- revealed that women's security has deteriorated over the years in the country.
According to the report, 51.4% of women -- aged 15 years and older -- reported they felt safe walking alone at night in the area they resided in (80.4% in 2017) and 23% of the women surveyed said they experienced physical or sexual violence committed by their partner in the previous 12 months.
The report, however, added that Bangladesh has been maintaining psychosocial support for survivors of intimate partner violence.
According to the report, Bangladesh has also included gender-based violence interventions under essential health services and risk communication and community engagement activities over the years.
Organised violence -- number of battle deaths from state-based, non-state, and one-sided conflicts per 100,000 -- has now dropped to zero (previously 0.01 in 2017).
The index also indicated that the country has been improving in terms of ensuring financial inclusion, with 35.8% of women having an individual or joint bank account in 2021, which was 25.2% earlier in 2017.
Cell phone usage among women also increased by 24.4 percentage points to 85.9%, while the highest was observed in Maldives (94.6%).
Women's mean years of schooling remains at six years, whereas Sri Lanka's position is now at 11.1 years, the highest in South Asia.
On the other hand, Bangladesh faced one of the largest relative drops in women's employment during 2016-2020. The index revealed that 64.8% of women, aged 25 or older, are currently unemployed.
Among the South Asian countries, Nepal had the highest employment rate of 73.7%.
Meanwhile, women's share of parliament seats (now 20.9%) increased by 0.6 percentage points.
The index further revealed that 57% of men, aged 15 or older, disagreed with the proposition: "It is perfectly acceptable for any woman in your family to have a paid job outside the home if she wants one."
Bangladesh also scored a low of 49.4 out of 100 in the "absence of legal discrimination against women" indicator which reflects the laws and regulations that limit women's social and economic inclusion.