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29 June 2014, Dhaka. As the entire nation fall victim to the craze of FIFA world cup 2014, BRAC decided to harness the enthusiasm through an exhibition match between the nation’s top favourite teams-Brazil and Argentina. On Friday afternoon of 27 March, the all-girls football teams of BRAC’s adolescent development clubs put on the jersey of Brazil and Argentina, and the much anticipated finale was underway.

The match began at 3pm on the ground of Motijheel T&T school, packed with an enthusiastic crowd cheering for their favourite teams. Brazil’s skipper Shamoly Bosak put her team in the lead during first half.  However, Irene Parvin soon put Argentina back on level terms. The first half of the match ended with a score of 1-1. In the second half, the winning goal was by Argentina’s Jannatul Ferdous, ending the match with a final score of 2-1.

The winning team was handed over a replica of the world cup trophy along with a cheque of BDT 60,000. BRAC’s senior director Asif Saleh, programme head Snigdha Ali, programme coordinator Monwer Hossain and senior programme manager Rashida Parveen from BRAC’s communications and education programme were present at the event. The match received a huge national media coverage both in print and electronic media.

Since 1993, BRAC has been working to help adolescent girls in the country so that they could anchor on a sound survival strategy by keeping themselves busy through physical, social and economic  engagements.  Of many of the components of the initiative, ‘sports for development’ is a major one. Today, there are around 8000 adolescent clubs in Bangladesh, dedicated to mobilise this effort.
 

29 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC signed an MoU with Mayalogy.com.bd, the first website dedicated to empowering women in the country. The project aims to create a virtual platform which will ensure access to information for women and girls to manage stress and crisis related to gender based violence and gender discrimination. Director of BRAC’s Gender Justice and Diversity programme, Sheepa hafiza and CEO of Mayalogy, Ivy Huq Russell signed the partnership agreement titled “BRAC-Mayalogy Partnership on Empowering Women and Girls in Bangladesh” at BRAC center today.

This joint collaborative project will exclusively focus on enhancing women’s access to information on sexual harassment, violence against women and girls, gender discrimination, and maternal, reproductive, adolescent health and sexual health rights in country.  By leveraging the power of the web, this BRAC-Mayalogy partnership has the potential to reach over 35 million internet users in Bangladesh, of which an estimated 30% are women/girls. Upon signing the agreement, Sheepa  Hafiza said, “this is a new beginning and we believe this platform will help women to connect  and help each other.”

BRAC has been a pioneer in mobilising people since 1972. ‘Focusing on women’ is one of the priorities of BRAC; therefore, women empowerment is placed at the heart of development journey of the organisation. In line with its (BRAC’s) vision and mission and values, BRAC works for establishing a gender responsive working environment and promotes ‘zero tolerance’ against sexual harassment. Find more at gender.brac.net

Mayalogy has been working for two years with a mission to empower women through innovation and access to information. They promote quality content, engaging community and breaking digital divide. Since the beginning of its journey, Mayalogy has been providing useful and effective information to women and girls regarding pregnancy, maternal health and adolescent health. Find more about mayalogy at www.maya.com.bd/en

 

26 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC held its Annual Report 2013 launching event on 26 June 2014.  The event was held at BRAC centre in Mohakhali.

Highlighting BRAC’s achievements of 2013, BRAC’s vice chairperson and Interim ED, Dr Mushtaque R Chowdhury said, “BRAC acts as catalyst creating an ecosystem where poor can seize control of their lives.” Presenting last year’s achievements he mentioned, “more than 12,114 crore taka was disbursed to 42 lac borrowers, 91,300 ultra poor households were reached in 37 districts and 96,177 students passed the PSC exam with 99.99% pass rate”.

Advisor to BRAC’s Executive Director, Dr Mahabub Hossain in his speech thanked the media for providing consistent support to BRAC. He also stressed on the importance of accountability and transparency to the public and BRAC’s stakeholders, and took this opportunity to share BRAC’s 2013 activities through this annual report.

BRAC’s Senior Director of strategy, capacity and communication, Asif Saleh highlighted the importance of private sector involvement in development interventions.  “BRAC social enterprises have been following a sustainable, socially responsible business model. We are open to share our experiences with the private sector so that they can consider shifting their approach from CSR (corporate social responsibility) to CSV (creating shared value),” said Mr Saleh while explaining the future strategic priorities of BRAC.

Representatives from Chevron, ACI Limited, Grey Advertising, Canadian High Commission, Kazi Shahed Foundation, AusAID, DFID, Renata Limited along with other guests, media and BRAC directors and senior management were present at the event.
 

11 June 2014, Dhaka. Speakers on consultation appealed to abolish Kafala and demanded as it is a global agenda on protection of migrant rights in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). National Alliance for Migrant’s Rights Bangladesh (NAMR,B) organised a national consultation today morning on “Kafala violating migrant’s rights: Can FIFA help to abolish?” in BRAC centre auditorium, Dhaka.

Speakers highlighted on Qatar’s  promises  to  review  its  labour  laws, especially  the  kafala  or  sponsorship  system,  which  is  found in GCC states.

Ms. Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender Justice & Diversity, and Migration Programme presented the key note paper and appealed to unite and raise the global voice to abolish the kafala system on Behalf of NAMR, B.  She highlighted the exploitation that faced by the migrants in GCC due to Kafala system.

Ms Rina Roy, Director, Manuser Jonno Foundation, stated about the importance of nation-wide campaign on Kafala issue. She also added, we need to follow the good example from Nepal for doing effective advocacy on Kafala.   

Mr Kazi Abul Kalam, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment said, Bangladesh government is continuously working to protect the rights of migrants workers, the government is also engaged in Colombo process  (an alliance of labour sending countries) and Abu Dhabi Dialogue on Kafala to work more effectively.

Mr. Md. Golam Mustafa Khan,
Joint Secretary, BMET stated that they are receiving more than 150 cases on rights violation per day.  He stated that most of them from GCC countries. He mentioned that government raised the issue in global forum.

Speakers at the consultation targeted to advocate for the protection of the migrants workers through FIFA. In the consultation discussants and participants recognised that Qatar FIFA World cup is an opportunity for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Qatar is the host for FIFA world cup 2022. Since Qatar has a plan to invest more than USD 220 billion in infrastructure development for hosting the world cup, it will be needing huge overseas employees.  They also highlighted that Qatar became the second largest destination for Bangladeshi workers this year. So this is the right moment for Bangladesh to advocate for the migrant’s rights.

A cross section of people including government, academics, journalists, lawyers, rights and development activists as well as members of national and international organisations were present at the consultation.

 

10 June 2014, Dhaka. Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) observed its 15th anniversary with the slogan “15 years of success and fight to prevent acid violence” on 31 May 2014. ASF has been working in preventing and raising awareness on acid violence since 1999. The organisation stepped into 16 years of its founding in May this year.  Acid violence has declined as a result of a collaborative effort, ASF believes, but the organisation strives to bring the rate of acid violence down to zero. 

The programme started with a welcome note from Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Chairperson, Trustee Board, ASF. Selina Ahmed, Executive Director, ASF highlighted the achievement and obstacles that the organisation faced in 15 years of its journey. 

The programme was held in the LGED auditorium of the capital. Present as chief guests were Dr Shamanto Lal Sen, Plastic Surgeon and a founding member of ASF; Advocate Salma Ali, Executive Director, Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association; Selim Ahmed, Former Chairman of Unicef Staff Association;  Abdul Quayum, Associate Editor, Prothom Alo; Mr. Asif Saleh, Senior Director, BRAC; Ferdousi Akter, representative of acid survivors, member, Board of Trustee, ASF. 

ASF honoured a total of 29 organisations and individuals for their support and contribution over the years. Late Ivy Rahman, Dr Shamanto lal Sen, Abdul Quayum, Advocate Salma Ali and Asif Saleh were among the awardees.

Professor Momtaz Megum, Chairperson, Bangladesh National Women’s Association, accepted the award on behalf of Ivy Rahman. She expressed her gratitude and wished to continue working with ASF. Dr Shamanto Lal Sen in his speech, outlined the history of ASF and expressed his appreciation towards the acid survivors. 

Advocate Salma Ali, in her speech said ASF can be considered an inspiration for acid survivor foundations around the world. She also stressed on the need for accountability from government in order to implement laws better.

Next to address was Asif Saleh, Senior Director, BRAC. He spoke of the resilience of acid survivors and how only in unity one can find the inspiration to work for change. He urged ASF to consider its future plans after it is done tackling acid violence.

The anniversary programme ended following cake cutting and cultural programme organised by survivors.
 

05 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC founder and Chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Princeton University on 3 June 2014. Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber awarded Sir Fazle in the historic Nassau Hall of the university. This honorary doctoral degree was conferred upon five people for their contributions to human rights, public life, business, the humanities, education and engineering.  Former U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright is amongst the other four recipients.  About 10,000 students and guests attended the ceremony.

 

In its official citation, the university commended Sir Fazle’s commitment to poverty alleviation, calling BRAC, which he founded in 1972, “a profoundly effective and universally admired organisation committed to alleviating poverty for millions worldwide.” The citation from Princeton also said, “His organisational and leadership skills, combined with his ceaseless commitment to uplifting the less fortunate, have led to innovative and enduring programmes in economic development, education and healthcare. He has created a model of how to have a lasting impact on those in need.”

 

BRAC is a global leader in creating opportunities as a means to end poverty. With more than 100,000 employees, it is the world's largest non-governmental organisation, touching the lives of an estimated 135 million people in 12 countries using a wide array of antipoverty tools such as microfinance, education, healthcare, legal rights training and more.

 

Sir Fazle has received numerous other honorary degrees including Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University (2007); Doctor of Laws from Columbia University (2008); Doctor of Letters from the University of Oxford; In 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) by the British crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally.

 

02 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has been awarded the Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal by The Russian Children Foundation (RDF) on the occasion of International Children’s Day on 1 June 2014. He received the award at Moscow's historic Bolshoi Theatre after a Gala concert for orphaned, disabled and disadvantaged children, where he was present as the Guest of Honour.  About 11,000 children from all around the country gathered in Moscow to participate in this event.


Sir Fazle Hasan Abed receiving the Leo Tolstoy International gold medal award from the The Russian Children's Foundation's leader and famous writer, Albert  A. Likhanov

The award was given by the organisation’s leader and famous writer, Albert A. Likhanov. Every year, the Russian Children's Foundation awards this medal to an outstanding humanist who has made a significant contribution to the education and care of children. Previous awardees include Mother Teresa, Albert Sabin (inventor of the oral polio vaccine), and Swedish children's writer, Astrid Lindgren. Upon receiving the award, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “I thank the Russian Children Foundation for the honour they have shown me and BRAC. BRAC has been focusing on empowering people, particularly vulnerable women and children, and creating opportunities through education for the last three decades.  I have great appreciation towards the work of RDF by which they are protecting countless underprivileged children in Russia.”

The Russian Children’s Foundation, the country’s first public organisation for the protection of children was formed in September 1991. It currently has 74 regional offices actively working to provide social assistance to needy children in Russia in cooperation with public authorities, businesses and other community organisations.

BRAC, established in 1972, is a development organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor, and helping to bring about positive changes in their lives by creating opportunities for them. So far its work has touched lives of an estimated 135 million people all over the world.

 

29 May 2014, Dhaka. Yoni Blumberg, a student of Carleton College in USA, has recently completed a thesis that uses BRAC Dairy as a case in point to study and analyse social enterprise strategies and the resulting impacts. The thesis looks into the many strategies that social enterprises use to create social and economic change; Blumberg traces how BRAC Dairy, in particular, is helping small farmers in Bangladesh, using innovative methods in different levels of its operations to tackle poverty. The writer identifies how Bangladesh, throughout the 1980s, imported nearly all of the pasteurized milk it consumed as a result of the domestic milk market being underdeveloped, and how it is an entirely different story today. BRAC Dairy’s use of business to address social needs finds well-researched evidence. A summary of Blumberg’s thesis can be found in the poster provided below.

Read more about the research and finidings

 

BRAC’s road safety programme held a seminar on ‘Creating accessibility in transportation and road infrastructure for the disabled’ on 6 May 2014, at BRAC Centre.  It was a collaborative initiative between BRAC and BRTA.

Consultant in traffic planning and researcher of Lund University Helena Svensson, PhD gave a presentation on the topic. She identified insufficient footpath and a lack of arrangement for disabled people to get into public transport as major problems. She suggested that places like the parliament house, public parks and shopping malls in the capital should have special arrangements for disabled people to move freely. The guests present in the seminar emphasised on making proper law and enforcement for the disabled in transportation.

BRTA chairman Md Nazrul Islam said, “The Bangladesh government will soon start a ‘transport and traffic act’ in order to ensure accessibility of the disabled people in transportation.” Ahmed Najmul Hossain, director of BRAC’s road safety programme concluded the seminar saying, “this is the first initiative and we look forward to work with the government more on this issue to make a difference”.

Additional DIG of police Nazmul Haque, MD of Shohag transportation Md Faruk Talukder and director of CIPRB Dr AKM Fazlur Rahman was present amongst the guests.

 

Saturday, 03 May 2014 18:00

A call for action to end malnutrition

Civil Society Alliance for Scaling Up Nutrition, Bangladesh (CSA for SUN) celebrated a “Global Day of Action” on nutrition with 18 other countries on 4 May 2014 at Spectra Convention Centre. Inaugurated in 2012 by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, SUN is a unique movement founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. BRAC is facilitating Secretariat responsibility to achieve the objectives of SUN Movement.

The purpose of the Global Day of Action is to display the strong public support behind the nutrition issues of Bangladesh, and reflect this internationally. Art and quiz competitions were held in 14 districts across 7 divisions of Bangladesh in April. An art exhibition with the winning artwork from all 14 districts was displayed in the event.

“We must not allow under-nutrition to prevail and only with coordinated efforts we will be able to overcome malnutrition” said the chief guest of the event, State Minister for Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki, MP. Representative of World Food Programme Christa Rader and member of SUN Civil Society Network, Dr. Sultana Khanum attended the event as special guests. Dr. Michael Foley, Director, Save the Children & Executive Member of CSA for SUN, Dr. Rukshana Haider, Chair, CSA for SUN, Bangladesh, Kaosar Afsana, Director, BRAC & Member Secretary, CSA for SUN were also present.

Within the SUN Movement, national leaders are prioritizing efforts to address malnutrition. With a shared understanding that many factors impact nutrition, each of us has a unique contribution to make. Together we are capable of achieving what none of us can do alone.