Bangladesh has recently been widely showcased as having made good progress in development generally, in education, and in girls’ education in particular (UNDP 2005; World Bank 2005; Herz 2006). While it is true that girls’ enrolment at both primary and secondary levels has increased significantly in the last few decades, with girls now being enrolled in roughly equal numbers to boys at primary and lower secondary levels (Ahmed et al. 2006), it is not yet clear how this affects the quality of the lives of women and girls: their capabilities, their ability to do and be what they have reason to value. Without intending to denigrate the quantitative progress that has been made, a superficial examination of indicators such as enrolment figures might give an impression that the burdens related to being born a girl in Bangladesh are being lifted along with enrolment – as evidenced by claims that the country has already achieved the third Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women (e.g. Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstna 2005; Zia 2005). Such claims arise from a restricted understanding of gender, education and development, with attention further restricted to accessible indicators of gender disparity in education, reduced even further to basic education enrolment figures. Little attention has been paid to higher levels of education where gender gaps widen, nor to other possible gender disparities in education such as exclusion in the classroom, subject choice or achievement in schools, nor to what impact education might have beyond the classroom.