Sanem, in a recent report, found that the value of unpaid work done by women in Bangladesh is worth 39.52 percent of the GDP
Naushaba Nasrin works at a private bank for eight hours a day, on average, for which she receives a handsome salary. At the same time, she also works an additional four hours a day, for which she does not get even a single penny.
"If my unpaid labour were to be converted into monetary value compared to my office salary, it would amount to around Tk2,000 per day," she said.
The value of her work outside the office is completely ignored while calculating the gross domestic product (GDP).
Another woman, Shahnaz Parveen, who neither has a job or a business, spends most of her time on her children and other household works.
She begins her day by preparing breakfast, taking her children to school and then taking care of them throughout the day.
After dropping her children at school, she has to make lunch for her family and manage all the household activities, for which she receives an exact payment of zero taka. All her activities are unaccounted for and unpaid.
Before having her first child, she had a job that brought home about Tk25,000 per month.
"Had I continued my job, my salary would have more than doubled by now," said Shahnaz.
However, these are not arbitrary stories, as a recent study by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) found that value of unpaid labour done by women in Bangladesh is worth about 39.52 percent of GDP.
Sanem revealed the study on Monday in at Brac Inn, Dhaka, during a national dialogue on "Recognition of Women's Unaccounted Work in National GDP and Its Inclusion in Gender Responsive Budgeting."
The study showed that the financial value of the total unpaid work of both men and women is worth about 48.54 percent of GDP.
Among the total unpaid labour, women contribute to 81.4 percent, while men contribute 18.6 percent.
The price of unpaid labour was calculated using satellite accounts.
"We have tried to separate the contributions under a lot of categories, and we have calculated two proxy prices," said Zubayer Hossen, research economist at Sanem.
He provided a comparison of the pricing done among different countries. "Approximately 17 percent to 45 percent of the GDP accounts for the unpaid and unaccounted domestic work in different countries," Zubayer added.
Sanem also classified women's contribution to GDP in to three avenues: paid; unpaid family work; and unpaid, unrecognized and unaccounted domestic work.
The study shows that women who are not in the labour force do the maximum amount of unaccounted and unpaid work – worth 31.41 percent of the GDP of Bangladesh.
Selim Raihan, executive director of SANEM said, "The valuation of the non-labour market household care work is important. We need to acknowledge the contribution of women's unaccounted household work to dignify this contribution in a male dominated society."
"The female labour force participation is stagnant, but the male participation rate is above 80 percent. The main issue regarding supply is the household care burden borne by women," he added.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the latest labour force survey found female labour force participation in the market to be only 36 for every 100 women in the country.
The study recommended investing in infrastructure and set alternative support systems, like day care centres, to ease women's responsibilities related to domestic work.
Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Md Iqbal Hussain said the ministry is working on setting a standard procedure for operating day care centres.
"Once the standard operating procedure is set, the ministry will make it compulsory to set up day care centres in every government office," he added.
Sanem also suggested recognising and incorporating unpaid care work into the gender budgeting process.
Speaking at the dialogue, Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said, "We hardly recognize the productive work of women. These works should be given a formal recognition through calculating its share in the GDP."
Dr Nazneen Ahmed, researcher at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, questioned, "Why are 80 percent of the unpaid labourers women? The government should look into it.
They must also set a plan in the budget to bring these women into the labour force, she added.