“Digital Bangladesh” implies theuse of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the governanceprocesses to ensure transparency, accountability, equality and inclusiveness.E-governance is a byproduct of ICT and digitalization agenda of Bangladesh. Thecritical role of e-governance in the larger project of harnessing theinformation society opportunity for women’s empowerment and gender equality haswidely been acknowledged (United Nations 2010). Hence e-governance holdstremendous potential to strengthen targeted service delivery to women (Huyer2010). On the other hand, Government of Bangladesh holds mandate for upliftingthe women’s status by establishing equal opportunity, participation of women innational life and ensuring the equality in public employment ignoring the sexas constitutional obligation under the article 10, 19 and 29. Through thevision 2021, the government has undertaken various steps towards ensuring thewomen’s development. To attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thecountry is adopting strategies to ensure the gender equality and women’sempowerment as well as implementing the mandates of the Convention on theElimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and theBeijing Platform for Action. The 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) of Bangladesh governmentreflects women’s engagement in political and economic activities as across-cutting issue and one of the main drivers of gender parity.
NationalInformation and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy 2015 focuses on gender asa cross cutting theme for a number of areas. The first objective aims atensuring the social equity through reducing the economic inequality and digitaldivide specially regarding to the women. It emphasizes on the gender equality,equal opportunity and equal participation in employment. The action plan of thepolicy denotes for implementing the strategic theme for eradicating theeconomic inequality and digital divide in respect of women. However, asgovernance increasingly moves towards becoming ‘digital by default’, women arelikely, because of their socio-cultural location, to be more alienated andexcluded. As a result, new alarming inequalities are emerging in our society.
Now, the question is why it happens in Bangladesh while uplifting the women’srights and ensuring the equality is a constitutional mandate. How digitalization through e-governance couldinfluence gender equality in terms of the substance of women’s ’empowerment’ inBangladesh? What is the current status of women’s empowerment in the country?