Re-writing the Future: Celebrating women leadership in the urban slums of Bangladesh

08 Mar 2016

Khadija Begum—an independent woman from an extremely poor family living in the urban slums of Gopalgonj—took over her new leadership role as a Councilor for Gopalganj Pourashava.  Khadija is the women in the middle wearing a grey scarf.Khadija Begum—an independent woman from an extremely poor family living in the urban slums of Gopalgonj—took over her new leadership role as a Councilor for Gopalganj Pourashava. Khadija is the women in the middle wearing a grey scarf.
“I am very excited that the people trusted me with community leadership! I am now working for the poor to prove myself worthy of their trust. I am focusing on key challenges in my community, such as eliminating violence against women, preventing early marriages, supporting disabilities and promoting children’s education. I am also a member of the Women Development Committee and I believe that unity among women can turn all challenges into opportunities.” Khadija succeeded over adversity through her hard work and determination. Key to realizing her potential was the availability of the right kind of support. Starting out as an extremely poor woman living in an urban slum that afforded no jobs or opportunities, she is now an elected councilor working to improve lives in the community and helping women and girls overcome poverty- and gender-based challenges in Bangladesh.   “I always wanted to become a leader, but I didn’t know how. Before joining the programme (Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction), I was only a labourer with a seven-year-old disabled daughter. There was no platform for my voice to be heard. My husband and I worked as cooks in the Bangabandhu college canteen to support the family. However, our daily earnings … Read more

‘Can I Get a Witness’: evidentiary and procedural issues that delay the administration of justice in Bangladesh

25 Nov 2015

"Justice delayed is justice denied” – William E. Gladstone The effective delivery of justice in any given system requires the smooth-functioning of courts and the competent management of cases by all actors involved. A weak link in this justice chain could very easily cause fragmentation of the entire system, leading to low confidence in the formal justice system and injustice. The dire state of affairs has arguably been reached in Bangladesh where the disposal time can extend to 10 years in land cases and litigants lose an average daily income of USD 5.4 (Tk. 428) needlessly attending court through an average of 60 adjournments; it is estimated that the average litigants spends an average of USD 1500 pursuing a case through the formal system which dramatically impacts the accessibility of this system given  almost half the population (43.3%) continue to live below USD 1.25 a day. The UNDP has been working to address some of these problems through projects supported by the Supreme Court to try and address the case backlog which is estimated at 2.86 million, and has partnered with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to try and foster greater communication, cooperation, and coordination amongst justice system … Read more

Sisters Doin' It for Themselves

01 Nov 2015

The women of the Berra Women’s Community Policing Forum. Photo - UNDPThe women of the Berra Women’s Community Policing Forum. Photo - UNDP
The challenges in increasing access to justice for women in Bangladesh can seem daunting. In all spheres of contemporary Bangladeshi life, women still face discrimination, exclusion, and injustice and have negligible influence in decision-making processes. Their inferior status can be traced to the patriarchal values entrenched in society, which keep women subjugated, assigns them a subordinate and dependent role, and, prevents them from accessing power and resources. Men hold the power and resources within families and control most of the property and family income. Women are still often considered as men’s property, with their sexual activity, income and labour being systematically controlled by the men in their family. Although women are increasingly joining the workforce (particularly in areas such as garment production), social expectations of women still pivot around child rearing and household management. Widespread violence against women also contributes to their social vulnerability and prevents them from fully participating in society; it has been reported that 87 per cent of currently married women have experienced physical violence by their current husband and more than 40 per cent of women on average indicated that they had first forced sex at age 14 and below by non-partners.  In spite of these alarming … Read more

Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All

21 Sep 2015

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on the 21 September. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for harmony – whether it be government, private sector or civil society groups – peace and development that leaves no-one behind. Bangladesh has been a stand out performer not just in economic growth but in poverty alleviation too.  Growth is steady at 6.25% and at the same time poverty has fallen from 56.7 percent in 1991-92 to 31.5 percent in 2010.  The under-five mortality rate has been reduced, significant progress has been made in attaining gender parity at primary and secondary schools, and remarkable improvements have been made in the areas of poverty reduction. This was reflected in a 2010 Household Income and Expenditure Survey indicated that incidences of poverty are declining at a rate of 2.47 percent per year since 1991/92.  But the growth and progress seen across … Read more

The Missing Life Blood of Bangladesh

13 Aug 2015

The difficulties of effective delivery of emergency health services in Bangladesh can be considered one of the focuses of development organizations. Ensuring that citizens receive all the support they require in emergency situations is an issue that development organizations must address in order to build inclusive resilience. Services, like timely delivery to hospitals, trained doctors and enough medical supplies are all constantly in high-demand for citizens of Bangladesh.  Bangladesh has been working tirelessly to supply constant emergency services to over 166 million people. The responsibility that the health sector is burdened with is not to be underestimated. In dealing with the lives of 166 million people it is acknowledged that even to provide basic services with the current infrastructure of Bangladesh is difficult.  In rural areas, due to constant flooding, the roads get washed away on a regular basis, making it very difficult for Ambulances to move around. In addition, the hospitals are usually ill equipped to deal with medical emergencies. Even though Bangladesh has renowned quality of their medical certification, there is a distinct lack of incentives for doctors to work in rural areas, as they can easily find more financially lucrative jobs elsewhere.  In the major cities, issues relating … Read more