Government tries to push women’s equality for a third time, but Islamists object

The 2011 National Women Development Policy would guarantee women greater rights in matters of employment, property and inheritance. Opponents claim it violates Muslim family law.The government of Bangladesh has adopted a National Women Development Policy (NWDP) to promote women’s equality without regards for their religion. In a move full of symbolism, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the policy on 7 March, a day before International Women’s Day. Under the NWDP, women will have greater rights in employment, inheritance and education. However, the country’s political opposition did not waste time to voice its doubts over the proposed legislation, objecting to some provisions that would violate Muslim family law. Now, everyone in the country is waiting to see if the NWDP will be actually implemented or if conservatives will be able o block it.

Inheritance is the new legislation’s sticky point. According to the Qur‘an, not all children are entitled to the same share of inheritance; women can only claim a quarter of what men get. Under the new rules, every child would inherit get the same share. For NWFP’s opponents, this would violated the holy text of Islam and be unfair to men, because if women inherit less than men do, that is because the latter are required to provide for her. That is why women do not need to have a larger dowry.


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