Women and the right of access to information in Bangladesh: a mixed-methods study
The Carter Center
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The following report outlines the findings of a study conducted by the Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Program and the Manusher Jonno Foundation, with support from the Bangladesh Information Commissioner and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs in six districts of Bangladesh between April and December 2015. The study is part of a multicountry project to assess the hypothesis that women are not able to exercise the right to information with the same facility (frequency, ease, and rate of success) as men. More specifically, if an information asymmetry was demonstrated, the study went further to identify the cultural, structural, and legal barriers that women face that may impede access to public information, as well as to determine women’s most critical information needs. Local researchers conducting the assessments collected three types of data: interviews with community leaders, expert opinion interviews, and nonparticipant observations at public agencies, with accompanying short interviews of civil servants and visitors to the agency. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected in six districts, including Dhaka, Khagrachari, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Sylhet, in both the sadar and rural upazilas in each district to provide a more complete view of the issues facing women in exercising the right to information. Secondary data was collected through desk research and triangulated with the other data sets. The findings were notable, indicating the perception of an asymmetry of information flows based on gender in many of the districts assessed. The study found that women face great challenges and myriad barriers in accessing government-held information critical for economic empowerment and the protection and fulfillment of fundamental rights. The data also illustrated the perception that information most important to women for gaining opportunities for advancement is often the most difficult to obtain. Through participatory validation processes in each of the districts in the study, additional contextual information and narratives were collected. The Carter Center, Manusher Jonno Foundation, and additional Bangladeshi partners, including civil society and government, will utilize this evidence base to promote creative solutions and actions to make the right of access to information more meaningful for women in Bangladesh.
CitationThe Carter Center (2016) Women and the Right of Access to Information in Bangladesh: A mixed-methods study. Atlanta: The Carter Center
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