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CPD’s Fifty years celebration of Bangladesh accelerates 

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Wednesday, December 8, 2021
  • 200 Impressed

CPD’s Fifty years celebration of Bangladesh accelerates 


Dhaka December 8 2021: 


Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) celebrating Fifty Years of Bangladesh with virtual International Conference ‘Fifty Years of Bangladesh: Retrospect and Prospect’ which is happening from 6 – 9 December 2021 in collaboration with South Asia Program of Cornell University.

On Wednesday at DAY 3 PANEL 5 : SOCIAL TRANSITIONS held here in the city. 

It was chaired by Professor Bina Agarwal, Professor, Development Economics and Environment, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester.

Paper 1 was titled ‘Human Development and Social Change’ and was Presented by Dr Selim Jahan, Former Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP while Discussant was Dr Sabina Alkire, Director, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Paper 2 was titled ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment’ and was presented by Dr Sohela Nazneen, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies (IDS),, University of Sussex.

As discussant: Professor Elora Shehabuddin, Professor, Transnational Asian Studies, Rice University was present during the session.

The paper 3 was titled AS ‘Civic Activism: CSO/CBO/NGO’.  It was presented by Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow, CPD while discussant was Professor David Lewis, Professor, Anthropology and Development, Department of International Development, The London School of Economics and Political Science.

Here are the summaries of Three paper presented on Day 3 of the international conferance:

Paper 1 : Dr Selim Jahan – Fifty Years of Human Development in Bangladesh: Achievements and Challenges.

The fundamental objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy a long, healthy and creative life. In its development journey, Bangladesh has always put people at the centre of development – its development focus has never been simply on the richness of the economy, but also on the richness of the lives of its people. This year, Bangladesh marks the Golden Jubilee of its independence after a nine-month bloody liberation war. At its birth, doubts were expressed by some about the future of the new country and yes, there have been some turns and twists in the development path of Bangladesh. But over the past 50 years, the country has not only remained on a steady trajectory, but has also pushed that trajectory even to a higher level. Today, Bangladesh is being heralded as a development miracle by the world. Yet, as it looks forward to the next 50 years, human development challenges remain for Bangladesh. Some of these challenges are lingering challenges, like poverty, gender inequality; some are deepening challenges, like inequalities, climate change; and some are, undoubtedly, emerging challenges, like human security and Covid-19 pandemic. The global scenario would also give rise to some human development challenges for Bangladesh. In the context of all these, the present discussion reflects on the overall human development landscape of Bangladesh from a historical perspective over the past 50 years. It focuses on human development trends of Bangladesh – the achievements, the disparities and the deprivations and highlights the factors contributing to the achievements. It also points out the country’s human development challenges—lingering, deepening and emerging. The discussion identifies the policy options and the needed institutional reforms to march forward.

Paper 2 :Dr Sohela Nazneen, Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK – Contentious Empowerment? Women, Development and Change in Bangladesh.

In the last 50 years, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress on gender equality gains, starting from a lower base compared to other countries in the region. These include a rapid decline gender disparities in education (school enrolment), a rising female labour force participation, a significant reduction in maternal mortality, and a strong numerical presence of women in parliament and local government. However, gender inequalities in some areas remain persistent—apparent in the high levels of malnutrition among women and girls, child marriage, and violence against women. Sticky social norms and gatekeepers still restrict women’s access to resources, spaces within formal institutions and voice. In this discussion, I move beyond the usual discussion on women’s empowerment as a matter of control over resources within the household or participation in paid work and focus on how women as a collective group gaining and exercising power. I provide a broad historical overview of the unevenness in change and the role played by national and interactional actors that created scope for women to participate in public life and push for change- albeit within certain parameters. I also ask: Are the gender equality gains sustainable? I use case studies of women’s collective struggles to explore this question. I focus on the strategies women’s movement actors have used to negotiate with the Bangladeshi state and how national and regional economic and political shifts may positively or adversely influence the choices and pathways for Bangladeshi women to advance their interests and change the future.

Paper 3 :Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, CPD – Understanding Civil Society in Bangladesh: Evolution, Issues and Challenges.

The difficulty in defining “civil society” explains how complex the idea is, particularly in the context of Bangladesh. Dominant theoretical approaches and their diverse variants have been found inadequate in convincingly identifying not only the constituents of the country’s civil society, but in articulating its emergence and the factors underpinning its transformative progression. The discussion, building on the above, seeks to trace the genesis of civil society in Bangladesh in the pre-independence period and its novel role after the country’s independence in 1971. The subsequent evolving trends within civil society in Bangladesh and their distinctive features have also been explored in the discussion.

The phases of evolution of the civil society in Bangladesh have been broadly explained in relation to the state power; where the defining factor has been the state of cooperation and contestation between the political and civil elites.

In this connection, the discussion provides a critical perspective concerning the dominant agenda of the country’s civil society and highlights the major critiques regarding its operational modalities. The discussion concludes by underscoring the challenges faced by the civil society in Bangladesh in the context of its shrinking space and reflects on the outlook.


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