Supporting Women’s Work, Entrepreneurship, and Skills Development in the Time of COVID-19: Evidence and Policy for Bangladesh

The economic crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women’s economic and skilling activities. Containment measures like physical distancing, curfews, and lockdowns have exacerbated pre-existing gender differences in time use, increasing the pressures of unpaid care work that fall on women. Women’s work and entrepreneurial activities have also been affected on account of the types of sectors and jobs in which women primarily work, and existing structural disadvantages and gender gaps in accessing resources.

Designing social policies to mitigate these impacts and support employment and skills development opportunities for women is critical to post-pandemic economic recovery and gender equality. This event will convene researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to share research findings and discuss policy solutions from IPA’s Women’s Work, Entrepreneurship, and Skilling (WWES) Initiative in Bangladesh.

Sneha Subramanian (IPA) will present on the WWES initiative and IPA’s approach to equipping partners with critical data for timely decision-making. Christopher Woodruff (Oxford University) and Atonu Rabbani (University of Dhaka) will present on the impact of COVID-19 on female workers in the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh. Sarah Baird and Jennifer Seager (George Washington University) will present on the impact of COVID-19 on economic aspirations and outcomes of Bangladeshi adolescents. Nathan Fiala (University of Connecticut) will present results from the skills to succeed (S2S) program in Bangladesh and its impact on women’s labor market outcomes. Kawsar Hossain Sojib (a2i – Innovate for All and Jahangirnagar University) will discuss the policy implications of the results from these studies. Maheen Sultan (BRAC Institute for Governance and Development) will moderate the discussion and Q&A following the presentations.


  • Sarah Baird, Associate Professor of Global Health and Economics, George Washington University
  • Nathan Fiala, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut
  • Atonu Rabbani, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka
  • Jennifer Seager, Assistant Professor of Global Health and Economics, George Washington University
  • Christopher Woodruff, Professor of Development Economics, University of Oxford


  • Sneha Subramanian, Acting Country Director, Innovations for Poverty Action Bangladesh
  • Maheen Sultan, GAGE Bangladesh Qualitative Research Lead, BRAC Institute for Governance and Development

Policy Discussant:

  • Kawsar Hossain Sojib, Data Innovation Economist, a2i – Innovate for All, and Faculty, Department of Economics, Jahangirnagar University

Time: 8-9AM EST / 7-8PM Dhaka

Location: Virtual

Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2021