There is a lack of recognised approach in evaluating the participation of women engaged in domestic service, participants said in a webinar held on Tuesday.
The webinar titled "Eighth Five-Year Plan: Recognition of Domestic Service Works", was jointly organized by ActionAid Bangladesh and bdnews24.com, read a press release issued by ActionAid.
Participants discussed the need to recognise the participation of women in domestic service and the possibility of its long-term reflection in the Eighth Five-Year Plan.
Senior Secretary, Dr Shamsul Alam, member of Bangladesh Planning Commission attended the webinar as the chief guest.
He said, "Household work has been discussed in the Parliamentary Standing Committee. A large part of the society is engaged in this work. The Prime Minister once asked if this sort of work can be evaluated. She is aware of the matter."
"It should be evaluated. But when it comes to including this kind of work in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that is where the discussion ends. We have not come up with any recognised methodologies. This kind of work can be evaluated, provided we can come to an agreement with the United Nations (UN) on the principles," he added.
Shamsul Alam continued, "We calculate the GDP using the UN-funded National Income Account method, which is followed all over the world. Other than a product transacted via market exchange, nothing else can be included in the GDP. If we want to do financial assessment, we must be given a method."
Presenting the findings of a survey done in three districts, ActionAid's South Asia Advocacy Coordinator, Md Helal Uddin said in 2016, women did an average of 7.78 hours of domestic service work without pay, while men only did 1.1 hours. In 2017, the gap between household chores done by men and women was 5.19 hours; corresponding figures for 2018 and 2019 were 3.75 hours and 3.43 hours respectively.
"We have seen that when men are included in the work, they appreciate the work and happily participate in it," he said.
Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh urged the media to campaign for the evaluation of household chores.
"Growing up with patriarchal mentality creates an obstacle for men to do household chores. The media can play a big role there," she said.
Professor Dr Geeti Ara Nasrin, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka; human rights activist, Khushi Kabir; actress and teacher, Trapa Majumder also participated in the webinar as an honorary panel speaker.
Laiju Begum of Lalmonirhat district and Lucky Begum of Gaibandha were also present as project partners.