Simeen was empirical and her research was important: Prof Rehman Sobhan
Simeen continued working at the Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) until she died in March 2018
Recalling the works of noted researcher Simeen Mahmud, Centre for Policy Dialogue Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said she was empirical and her research was important.
"She [Simeen] has worked on trajectories of fertility. Beyond that, she went to the next phase of gender and labour market, and women's empowerment. She was a guide, mentor and a friend of young researchers," he said.
Professor Rehman on Tuesday was addressing the opening ceremony of a three-day event on exciting research and inspired thinking to celebrate the life and work of Simeen.
Simeen continued working at the Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) until she died in March 2018. The BIGD organised the event in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Gender and Adolescence Global Evidence Programme, and Brac University at the Brac auditorium in the capital.
Among others, Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, former advisor to the caretaker government and Simeen's husband, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, chairperson of Brac, Naila Kabeer, professor of gender and development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Dr Imran Matin, executive director of the BIGD, spoke at the event.
The conference intends to bring together researchers who have worked with Simeen as well as those who work on similar issues as a gesture of remembrance and respect for her.
Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud said, "Simeen would not be satisfied with just the outcome of an intervention. It is reflected in her studies of empowerment. She was not interested in the result of female wellbeing coming from intervention.
"She was rather interested in looking at welfare interventions and then shifting to the pathways. She was interested in looking at the steps through which empowerment is reached. Throughout her working life, she has visited fields," he said Wahiduddin.
"During her long career, Simeen worked with people across the globe, many of whom are joining the conference," he added.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said, "This is not just a memorial, but a celebration of her work. Knowledge asymmetry is deeply ingrained. It requires addressing of data, analysing data, and researchers need to have the ability to analyse the flare from data."
Following the opening ceremony, Professor Naila Kabeer presented a paper titled "Revisiting the fertility transition in Bangladesh: Qualitative insight."
In her paper, she said the population had been the main problem in the development of Bangladesh and the problem still exists. Poverty is rising in many regions of Bangladesh due to this large population.
She also said family planning programmes in Bangladesh is only female-oriented and merged with programmes of education and health.
"That is why the success of these programmes could not be identified separately," she added.
Presenting a paper titled "The onset of child-bearing and adolescent empowerment: Some insight from the BALIKa programme", Dr Sajeda Amin, senior associate of the population council of New York, said a woman in Bangladesh gave birth to 6.5 children on average in 1970 and the rate has come down to 2.3 now.
"Despite a huge drop, the fertility rate of women in Bangladesh is higher than many other countries. Increasing the rate of women education did not have an impact on increasing their participation in the labour market," she added.
Simeen was the head of the Gender Studies Cluster and the coordinator of the Centre for Gender and Social Transformation at the BIGD.
She studied statistics at the University of Dhaka and medical demography at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She joined the BIDS in 1974 as staff demographer and retired in 2008 as research director.
She was a MacArthur Fellow at the Harvard Centre for Population and Development in 1993. She died on March 18, 2018.
Her research focused on women's status, work and fertility, and conceptualising the processes of women's empowerment and women's employment.