Struggles of Female Household Heads in Bangladesh: A Qualitative Study

This paper explores the struggles faced by the female heads of households in Bangladesh. Data included the life stories of 22 purposively selected female household heads from two communities in northwest Bangladesh. Qualitative thematic analysis of the data revealed that the struggles of female heads differed in terms of their class position, place of living, and the route to headship. It indicated that the female heads from lower-class households used to face both financial and social constraints while the better-off heads faced social constraints like difficulties in child rearing and provoking male behavior. The study also explored that the female heads in urban areas were more vulnerable to male indecent behaviors than their rural counterparts. On the other hand, the de jure female heads were appeared to be more insecure and experienced the social stigma compared to the de facto heads. The study suggests that appropriate welfare policies/ interventions are needed to create income-earning opportunities for the female heads as well as to create a positive social environment where these women can work and move freely.