Equality of Employment in Bangladesh: A Search for the Substantive Approach to meet the exceptional experience of women in the contemporary workplace
Equality of mployment entails identical and fair treatment of all equally qualified individuals in the access to, and the enjoyment of, all rights in public office. The constitutional emphasis on de jure equality in Bangladesh while seeks to equate the equals in public services ignores the unequal educational and economic opportunities of men and women. Women's unique contributions in the household, pregnancy and childcare are overlooked by, or 'veiled' under, that equal approach. By contrast, the protective legislation which purports to accommodate women's different needs proves counterproductive and has a devastating effect on them in Bangladesh since it imposes extra costs on the employer to be paid off.
This article argues that the legal approach to equality in Bangladesh is incomplete and even inept in many respects in dealing with women's employment. It also maintains that the protective legislation produces an additional barrier to women's work instead of remedying their specific problems in employment and on some occasions, creates a 'trap' which reinforces their traditional subordination and domesticity. This work cntically exammes the de jure equality as guaranteed by the Constitution and the protective legislation of Bangladesh and elucidates ways in whtch law needs to be reconceptualised for the benefit of women. It concludes that the equal placement of women in the legal framework alone .will not entitle them to employment unless they are enabled to overcome their real inequalities. In order to achieve the outcome of equality, a substantive approach is necessary which will opt for not only the de jure equality but also for the de facto. Such an approach will account for women's special needs and their traditional disadvantageous posttions through searching for changes in laws and in the societal attitude, and for a pro-active role by the government.