This policy has been reviewed and approved by the CMC – an inter-ministerial committee composition of 35 Secretaries of National Social Security Programmes under the Chair of the Cabinet Secretary, in May 2018.
Social security (SS) is one of the key element to attain the national targets of poverty reduction and social development. It is also a key driver of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDG targets under Goal 1 for ending poverty; Goal 2 to end hunger and to achieve food security; goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and well-being; Goal 4 to achieve gender equality; Goal 8 to promote inclusive productive employment and decent work; Goal 11 to make cities and settlements inclusive, safe and resilient; and Goal 13 to combat climate change and its impacts, all require effective social security for all citizens. The Government of Bangladesh agreed to implement a nationally appropriate social security system that increases coverage among the poor and the vulnerable. The commitment brings significant prospect for women who form the majority of the poor, vulnerable, unreached and excluded groups from the existing developmental realm. The global pledge towards the SDGs has been followed by approval of the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) by the Government of Bangladesh, which defines a set of minimum support for the population of different age and vulnerabilities to ensure that no one is left behind.
In Bangladesh, women are hardworking, yet they lag behind men in almost all counts of socio-economic indicators owing to gender discriminatory norms and practices and also due to the limitations in reaching social security coverage and services for all. It is evidenced that well-designed social security systems can be instrumental for narrowing gender gaps in poverty, employment, human development, security and resilience from shocks. It is also clear that despite a well-designed social security strategy all women will not be able to equally reap the benefits of such a system. Comprehensive and gender integrated state-based social security, complementary robust social services in health and education, conducive macro economic policy with specific attention to reduce gender gaps and promoting social empowerment are still requirements to prevent women from “falling through the net”. Addressing gender inequality and promoting women’s empowerment are also fundamental to reduce inequalities in status and position of women and men. The Government of Bangladesh, recognizing the importance of addressing gender issues in social security, embarked on a gender diagnostic of the NSSS, which recommended specific attention to gender equality promotion at different stages of women’s lifecycle. This Policy is an outcome of the policy makers’ recognition of the need for a gender policy for social security that will guide the programme planners and designers in taking conscious measures in addressing gender aspects in design and delivery of social security services considering the gender-based needs of women at different points of their lifecycle.