Women's unaccounted works matter, and it needs recognition.
Speakers on Thursday made the observation at the event titled "Formal Recognition of Women's Unaccounted Contribution" at the Brac Centre Inn.
They urged the government to include women's unpaid contributions to the national gross domestic product (GDP) by reforming the current System of National Accounts (SNA) policies.
"A recent study of Sanem (South Asian Network on Economic Modeling) found that the value of women's unpaid labour in Bangladesh is about 39.52 percent of GDP," said Dr Sayma Haque Bidisha, professor of Economics, the University of Dhaka, while presenting a paper on the issue.
The paper shows that the financial value of the total unpaid work of both men and women is about 48. 54 percent of GDP. Of which, women's contribution is 81.4 percent.
"The price of unpaid labour was calculated using the satellite account system with which non-economic household works or services can be calculated."
"When someone asks a man what his homemaker wife does, he says: 'nothing'. A man can do his job with ease only because his wife does the household chores, cares the baby, and so many other works instead of doing any paid work at that time," said Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation Shaheen Anam.
"These works need formal recognition, and its value has to be added to the GDP."
Former director of Human Development Report Office Dr Selim Jahan said reform in current SNA policies to include the unaccounted contribution of women in GDP can debunk the myth that women do nothing.
"If the government, formally, takes the initiative to reshape and reform the policies and include women's unaccounted contribution in the GDP, it will help change people's outlook in a male-dominated society."
Speakers at the event also recommended investing in infrastructure and setting up alternative support systems, like daycare centres, to ease women's domestic responsibilities.
Manusher Jonno Foundation, a non-government organisation, arranged the event where Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal was present as the chief guest.
Kamal said that one cannot be the "buyer of his own products'". "Transactions, which cannot be evaluated in taka, cannot be added to GDP as per the current national accounting system."
"My mother loves me a lot and sacrificed her whole life to raise me, but it cannot be evaluated in taka."
Kamal, however, promised to raise the issue in the next budgetary discussion.