This study sets forth to uncover the background stories of the female heads of households i.e., the routes through which they become the heads of the household in Bangladesh context. The study included 22 purposively selected female heads from Rajshahi—a northwest district in Bangladesh. Using a semi-structured interview guide, qualitative in-depth interviewing technique was employed to gather the detailed life story of the women household heads. To generate themes, qualitative thematic analysis technique was used to analyze the interview texts. The findings suggest that the dissolution of marriage, either by the death of husband or divorce or separation, is the main reason for the development of (de jure) female headships irrespective of economic class and place of living. Only in few cases, situations like husband’s out-migration, disability and/or inability to earn an income thrust the (de facto) headship on the women. The study indicates that no woman, regardless of their class positions and places of living, take the charge of household headship willingly. As a qualitative study, the findings of the current study could be flawed by lack of generalization. The study offers empirical knowledge about the experiences of the female heads of households which could provide useful insights for the social workers and policy makers to have a better understanding about the diverse needs of female heads in Bangladesh. The route to female headship in Bangladesh is rarely studied. The current study is an attempt to fill up the study gap.
Buvinic, M. and Gupta, G.R. (1997) Female-Headed Households and Female- Maintained Families: Are They Worth Targeting to Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries? Economic Development & Cultural Change, 45, 259-280.
Ruwanpura, K.N. and Humphries, J. (2004) Mundane Heroines: Conflict, Ethnicity, Gender, and Female Headship in Eastern Sri Lanka. Feminist Economics, 10, 173-205. https://doi.org/10.1080/1354570042000217766
Tripathy, T. and Mishra, P. (2005) Female Headed Households Resources and Constraints: A Study on Orissa, India. Asia-Pacific Journal of Rural Development, 15, 77-94. https://doi.org/10.1177/1018529120050106
Islam, M. (1993) Female-Headed Households in Rural Bangladesh: A Survey. In: Mencher, J.P. and Okongwu, A., Eds., Where Did All the Men Go? Female-Headed/ Female-Supported Households in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Westview Press, Boulder, 233-242. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429267550-11
Omar, D.B., Ahmad, P. and Sarimin, M. (2005) Urbanization and the Wellbeing of Female Headed Households in Malaysia: The Case Study of Lower Income Single Mothers in Urban Centres. 8th International Conference of the Asian Planning Schools Association, Penang, 11-14 September 2005.
Morada, B.H., Llaneta, M.A., Pangan, T.N. and Pomentil, C.L. (2001) Female-Headed Households in the Philippines. In: The DOLE First Research Conference, The Occupation Safety and Health Center, Quezon City, 5 December 2001.
Posel, D.R. (2001) Who Are the Heads of Households, What Do They Do, and Is the Concept of Headship Useful? An Analysis of Headship in South Africa. Development Southern Africa, 18, 651-670. https://doi.org/10.1080/03768350120097487
Barros, R., Fox, L. and Mendonca, R. (1997) Female-Headed Households, Poverty, and the Welfare of Children in Urban Brazil. Economic Development & Cultural Change, 45, 231-257. https://doi.org/10.1086/452272
Kossoudji, S. and Mueller, E. (1983) The Economic and Demographic Status of Female-Headed Households in Rural Botswana. Economic Development & Cultural Change, 31, 831-859. https://doi.org/10.1086/451360