Single women – especially those with children – are among the most vulnerable category of the population. Therefore, the Government proposes to focus on providing support to vulnerable women – in particular single parents – to provide them with a minimum income guarantee while also enhancing their ability to engage in the labour market. The Government also plans to ensure that both parents assume responsibilities for caring for children.
There is already a set of schemes for vulnerable women of working age. The largest is the Allowance for Widowed, Deserted and Destitute Women, providing recipients with Tk.300 per month. The Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) scheme provides women with transfers of 30 kg of grain per month, although some women now receive the transfer in the form of cash. The VGD transfer is complemented by support to enable women to establish micro-enterprises.
The Government will consolidate the Allowance for Widowed, Deserted and Destitute Women and the VGD scheme into a new Vulnerable Women’s Benefit (VWB). Coverage will reach around 3.2 million women, providing a cash transfer of Tk.800 per month (indexed to inflation)6. Women will be selected on the basis of their poverty and vulnerability and other selection criteria that will be developed as part of broader selection mechanisms.
The Government will continue with the additional enterprise support provided to women as part of the VGD scheme. The Government will provide 500,000 women per year with additional capacity development and enterprise support for a period of two years, along the lines currently provided by the VGD scheme.
The MoWCA will prepare a detailed implementation plan for the proposed VWB programme and submit to the Cabinet for approval by December 2014. The programme will be implemented from July 2015.