There were a total of 106 female upazila nirbahi officers (UNO) across the country in 2017. The number is more than 160 now. The number of female deputy commissioners (DC) has also increased to 10 from only six in 2017.

At the same time, as many as 63 women are working as additional deputy commissioners (ADC) at the moment. The number was just 16 five years ago.

Not only in these three posts of the field administration, women’s position is strengthening and consolidating at different levels of the administration now.

Apart from the diverse initiatives taken by the government, people’s awareness has also played a big role in improving the working conditions for the women here, think the concerned people.

Although the work-environment for women has improved much as compared to the past, there are still some shortcomings. Therefore, the work-environment must improve further, the women officials said.

Considering the situation of the working parents, there should be a standard day-care centre at every workplace, they stressed.

Besides, a more developed sanitation system for women and awareness among the male officials regarding changing the conventional attitude towards women would further consolidate women’s position at work. More participation of women in administration will bring positive results in different sectors, they added.

My experience says it’s easier for people to come to female DCs. Especially, in case of women-centric problems, the victims feel safer to share anything with a female DC
Yeasmin Parvin, DC of Bandarban

In such a context, Bangladesh is celebrating the International Women’s Day today, 8 March.

Number of women at different government posts

According to the public administration ministry, the total number of government officials in the country is 15,54,927. Of them, 404,591 are women. There are a total of 195,679 government employees in the first grade, including 93,787 female officials.

Besides, the number of secretaries in the country is 79. Of them, 10 are female. The women are in charge of different ministries and divisions of the government including the finance, industry and agriculture ministry now.

Fatima Yeasmin is working as the finance secretary at the moment.  She is the first female finance secretary in the country.

The other female secretaries are - Sharifa Khan (Economic Relations Division), Zakia Sultana (Ministry of Industries), Wahida Akter (agriculture ministry), Farhina Ahmed (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), senior secretary Nasima Begum (member of planning commission), Nahid Rashid (fisheries and livestock ministry) and Shahnaz Arefin (Statistics and Informatics Division).

Besides, Nasrin Afrose is working as the executive chairman (secretary) of the National Skill Development Authorities.

However, the number of females in the posts of secretaries has been stuck to 10 for a while. According to the figures of Appointment, Promotion and Deputation Wing (APD) under the public administration ministry, of the 327 additional secretaries, 55 are female. At the same time, there are 164 women among 858 joint-secretaries, 370 women among 1,704 deputy secretaries, 689 women among 1,867 senior secretaries.

Besides, there are 433 females among the assistant commissioners or assistant secretaries.

Women’s running the field administration

Among the 64 deputy commissioners in the country, 10 are females. Women are serving as the deputy commissioner in three of the four districts of Mymensingh division. The female DCs are – Anjana Khan Mojlish in Netrokona, Saleha Akter in Netrakona and Shrabosti Ray in Jamalpur. Of them, Anjana Khan also served as the DC of Chandpur as well.

Sharing her experience to Prothom Alo, Anjana Khan said, “A woman always has to prove her eligibility for the post at first. However, people’s attitude towards women is changing and people around are taking this change positively. The situation may improve further in the future.”

Considering the situation of the working parents, there should be a standard day-care centre at every workplace, they stressed

However, she also mentioned that she didn’t face any major problem as a woman while on duty.

The other women DCs are Rahima Khatun in Madaripur, Kazi Nahid Rasul in Munshiganj, Ishrat Jahan in Habiganj, Chitralekha Naznin in Rangpur, Monira Begum in Jhenaidah, Farah Gul Nijhum in Jhalakathi and Yeasmin Parvin in the Bandarban district.

Speaking to Prothom Alo over the phone, Bandarban DC Yeasmin Parvin said that she is the first female DC in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The challenges and problems in the hilly areas are different from those in plain lands. She, however, didn’t face any major problem in her two-year tenure there.

Speaking regarding her experience while working as the DC of Bandarban, Yeasmin Parvin said, “My experience says it’s easier for people to come to female DCs. Especially, in case of women-centric problems, the victims feel safer to share anything with a female DC.”

According to the APD under the public administration ministry, of the total 480 UNOs in the country, 164 are women, which is 34 per cent of the acting UNOs. The post of UNOs is the most important in upazila administration as they work as they representative of the government at upazila level.

They work as the coordinator in the works of other government agencies in the upazila. Besides, there are 133 female assistant commissioners (land) across the country at the moment.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, state minister for public administration Farhad Hossain said, “Our government is women-friendly. Women are leading in different administrative posts as a result of different initiatives taken by the government to ensure a proper work environment for them.”

“This improvement didn’t come overnight. It came gradually. We are taking more and more initiatives in this regard. I hope that women’s position at work will be at a much better level in the coming five years,” he added.

*The report has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu