Some 96% of women in villages and 87% in cities in Bangladesh have never used a computer, according to a study by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem).
On the other hand, 87% of rural and 77% of urban women have never used the Internet.
The study has also found that 57% of urban female population have their own mobile phones while the percentage is merely 42% among rural female population.
The information was revealed at a webinar organised jointly by Sanem and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad on Tuesday.
Participants in the online discussion on "An Analysis of Gender Sensitive Budgeting: Bangladesh Perspective" also revealed that women in the country lag behind men in most indicators of labour force participation rate and employment.
In her keynote presentation at the webinar, Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, research director of Sanem and a professor of economics at Dhaka University, referred to a World Bank study and said the labour force participation rate of women in the country was 36.37% in 2017, compared to 38.6% among males.
"Especially, the percentage of the female population is glaringly higher in NEET, at 47%, compared to merely 10% of the male population in NEET – neither in employment nor in education and training."
The unemployment rate among women in the country is also more than twice as high as that among men, she said.
Dr Bidisha spoke about various aspects of gender-sensitive budgeting and its impacts on reducing gender inequality.
The Recurrent Capital, Gender, and Poverty Database (RCGP) was established by the Finance Division in 2003 to better monitor and report resource allocation to achieve gender equality, she said, adding that the study focused on 42 ministries, each of which is reviewed annually as a part of the Gender Budget Report prepared by the Ministry of Finance.
Dr Bidisha analysed the improvements and deteriorations in some key gender equality indicators. Pointing out how the rate of primary level completion and gender parity index has improved, she shed light on the challenges such as higher education, and technological inclusivity, the rates of which have declined.
Child marriage was also highlighted as a key area of concern.
"With 51% of women in 2020 being involved in child marriage, Bangladesh ranks among the top 10 countries in the world. The rate of gender-based violence is also concerning, with 54.7% of women being a victim of intimate partner violence in 2015."
Dr Bidisha stressed the importance of working on these areas to reduce discrimination.
Emphasising the importance of gender-sensitive budgeting, Dr Bidisha talked about how this can be a tool to address existing fault lines in policy implementation.
"This can help the allocation of funds based on gender disparity across all sectors, along with the assistance of a proper monitoring and evaluation mechanism. To implement a gender budget in Bangladesh, a call circular outlining 14 criteria and yardsticks is sent out to all ministries."
The webinar was chaired by Dr Fauzia Moslem, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, and moderated by Ms Eshrat Sharmin, senior research associate of Sanem. Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of Sanem and a professor of economics at Dhaka University, delivered the welcome remarks.
In his welcome address, Dr Selim Raihan said the employment of women is not enough for them to be empowered. In fact, aspects such as the policies undertaken in the national budget are crucial to narrow down the gap in gender equality, which leads to the concept of gender budgeting.
He stressed the importance of ensuring women's social, political, and economic rights, stating that economic growth would be deemed meaningless without the proper establishment of such rights.
Selina Ahmad MP, talked about the importance of increased gender allocation towards women in the grassroots population of the country.
Mentioning the need for increased gender equality for leading Bangladesh towards becoming a middle-income country, she spoke about the discrimination faced by the rural women in her election area, from lack of access to education to the discrimination because of skin complexion.
Reaffirming the words of Dr Bidisha, Selina Ahmad emphasised the importance of monitoring and evaluation, raising the question of how gender-sensitive the government employees themselves are.
Dr Sharmind Neelormi, professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic had increased school dropout rates in both male and female children. Along with that, the instances of child marriage and child labour have increased.
She stressed the importance of human-centered design (HCD), pointing out the tendency of the policymakers to "imposing prescription" without really involving the stakeholders impacted by the decisions.
Samanjar Chowdhury, operations lead at Brac Youth Platform, stressed the importance of mainstreaming gender-sensitive budgeting and said the government needs to have a political will for an effective gender-sensitive budget.