Bangladesh ranked at the bottom of the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2020 Report which indicates that the country is the worst place for women to do business.
The country secured the 58th position among 58 countries on the index in 2020, down by one notch from the 57th position it secured in 2019, according to the report released on Monday.
The country’s score, however, has slightly increased to 36.37 points in the year from 35.4 points in 2019.
The score is still exceptionally low as women continue to be held back by deeply-rooted socio-cultural as well as economic and financial constraints such as lack of work opportunities, government support and access to funding and capital, the report said.
Only 4.5 per cent of total business owners are female owners, 55th among the 58 countries, in Bangladesh, the report said.
The rate of women business owners who own a business and employ at least one worker was 4.3 per cent in 2019.
Among Bangladesh’s rival countries in international trade, Thailand ranked 11th, Indonesia 17th, Vietnam 25th and India 49th in the ranking.
Israel, the United States and Switzerland secured the top three positions.
According to the report, Bangladesh was ranked 57th in the women’s advancement outcome component that consists of women business leaders, women professionals and technical workers, women entrepreneurial activity rate and women labour participation.
Women’s progress as skilled professionals and participation in labour force tends to trail that of global peers as female professionals make up only around 36 per cent of all professions in Bangladesh against 81 per cent for men.
In the second knowledge assets and financial access component that coansists of women borrowing or saving for business, women’s financial inclusion, support for SMEs and women’s tertiary education gross enrollment rate, the country stood at the bottom at the 58th position, down from 57th in 2019.
There are markedly less opportunities for women to progress professionally as skilled workers assume business leadership positions compared to their peers in other regions.
They are also more constrained by the lack of developed physical infrastructure and government programmes to support their business undertakings.
Even in the pre-COVID situation, women in Bangladesh had little access to financial services due to poor credit rating or digital access.
Bangladesh’s position also declined to the 55th position in the third entrepreneurial supporting conditions component in 2020 from its place at the 54th position in 2019.
The component consists of ease of doing business, cultural perceptions of entrepreneurs, quality of governance and entrepreneurial supporting factors.
The quality of governance is very poor in Bangladesh along with some other countries like India and Tunisia.
According to the report, mass closures of clothing factories in Bangladesh led to the displacement of thousands of women from their jobs.
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