Recent analyses have highlighted that poverty reduction in Bangladesh has been accompanied by growing inequality in society, measured by household income. This article considers what the implications are for development actors who are concerned with empowering the poor in society, and who understand poverty from a gender and women’s rights perspective. We draw on experience from BRAC’s work to address these issues, focusing on the Gender Quality Action Learning (GQAL) programme. A focus on women’s self-employment alone does not result in challenging the structures of patriarchal inequalities. Gender inequality and its link to economic inequality needs to be much more centrally positioned than it currently is in development discourse. Currently economic empowerment is widely seen as a potential route to gender equality, but the GQAL programme shows work to challenge gender inequality is necessary as an entry-point to ensure effective economic empowerment.
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