A study has found that the number of women engaged in agricultural wage labour is only around 15%, which is described as the biggest setback for the inclusion of women in the national GDP.
Despite the high participation of women in cattle rearing and food grain production, such a small number proves that the scope of women's work in the formal economic sector in rural life is still very small, according to the study conducted by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF).
Dr Ismat Ara Begum, gender specialist and professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, presented the research paper at a webinar on Thursday.
Although the presence of women in the weekly village market is not very visible, they have been recently visiting the market in search of livelihood opportunities, she said in the research paper.
She said that since any earnings (from the market) are taken by their husbands and they are not given the right to spend this money, the labour and time spent by women engaged in this work remained undervalued.
According to the research paper titled "Evaluation of Women's Work in Agriculture", out of a total of 5.67 crore working people in the country, 47.6% are engaged in agriculture, said a press release.
"Of them, 64.8% are women. But in most cases women do not own land, and neither are they in supervisory roles. However, they are seen working on the land."
Chaired by MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam, MP Saber Hossain Chowdhury took part in the event as the chief guest.
Vice Chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University Dr Lutful Hasan and Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Md Mesbahul Islam attended as special guests.
MJF has been running the "Equality of Dignity" campaign across the country since 2012 to evaluate the unpaid work of women in the family and to include it in the national GDP.
Thursday's research work was presented as part of the campaign.
Although many rural women feel that they can participate in economic activities at a higher rate than before, they still have very little opportunity to decide how to spend the money they earn.
Since women are limited to family and domestic work, their incomes are negligible.
Under these circumstances, experts in the webinar opined that recognition of domestic and service work, including agricultural labour, is needed through satellite accounting.
Satellite accounting is a system that measures non-financial service or household work of a household.
These jobs are done by housewives without any financial remuneration or expectation of compensation, they said, adding that these activities remain outside the System of National Accounts (SNA).
Since work without monetary value is not considered part of the market economy, economists generally rely on satellite account systems, said event speakers.
By identifying the undervalued work of women through the satellite account system, economists can overcome the hard boundaries of the SNA, they added.