BRAC held the fourth Frugal Innovation Forum from 23-24 March 2016 in Savar, Bangladesh with the theme of scaling resilience. The forum showcased financial, social, and technological innovations that non-governmental organisations and other implementers are using to strengthen communities that are facing the effects of climate change.
The forum was designed to explore effective innovations and create opportunities for dialogue among leaders in the global south. Speakers from organisations that are building resilience in innovative ways, such as Goonj, iDE Nepal, The Mojolab Foundation, and Medic Mobile were featured in panel and plenary discussions. In addition, representatives from various grassroots organisations and thought-leaders on the subject including Ainun Nishat, Jaideep Prabhu, Rizwana Hasan and Arif Jebtik also presented and highlighted ways to build resiliency in the face of natural and man-made disasters.
“Resilience-building mindsets and creativity at the community and government level are necessary for communities to not only cope when faced with disaster, but to thrive,” Jaideep Prabhu said during the opening session. Mr. Prabhu said that top-down policies need to be balanced with grassroots, bottom-up solutions to build resiliency ahead of disaster.
The major sessions included financial innovations to foster household resiliency, innovations in adaptive livelihoods and agriculture, and also explored how policy can strengthen communities ahead of natural disasters in South Asia.
The two day long forum ended with a session with BRAC founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed moderated by Mr Prabhu. The discussion mostly focused Bangladesh’s growth in the last few decades. Highlighting some of them Sir Fazle said that Bangladesh’s life expectancy at birth is higher than that of Pakistan and India although both the countries have higher per capita income than Bangladesh. But unfortunately, the country has a long way to go in terms of ensuring gender equality and meeting the growing demand of urbanisation.
Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck of Bhutan visits BRAC on her first trip to Bangladesh. As President of the Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF), Her Majesty is here for a five-day study trip to explore possibilities for collaboration between BRAC and YDF.
On Tuesday, 15 March, Her Majesty met with Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC, at BRAC Centre. Admiring Bangladesh she said, “I am very impressed to see Bangladesh’s growth. I can see the discipline and it’s phenomenal.” She added, “We are very keen to collaborate with BRAC. It is remarkable that BRAC has touched so many lives and we have so much to learn from BRAC’s success.”
Thanking Her Majesty, Sir Fazle said, “Bangladesh is on the path to increase development growth rate. Last year it was 6% and we are hoping this year it would be 7%. But still 20% people live in poverty and BRAC is working to eliminate poverty and provide equal opportunity to all. We will be happy to collaborate with YDF”
In the evening, Her Majesty met the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Gonobhaban.
Her Majesty and YDF officials visited BRAC’s Ayesha Abed Foundation production centre and the Aarong Flagship Outlet on 16 March, Wednesday.
Her Majesty the Queen Mother was accompanied by Her Royal Highness Ashi Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck, the Vice President of the YDF, Ambassador of Bhutan to Bangladesh Her Excellency Pema Choden, YDF officials, and officials from the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka.
BRAC Afghanistan's staff KM Sirazul Islam (left) and Mohammad Showkat Ali (right)
18 March 2016, Dhaka. It is with great regret that we announce that Engineer Mohammad Showkat Ali, Chief Engineer, National Solidarities Programme and KM Sirazul Islam, Regional Accountant, Girls Education Challenge (GEC) project were abducted on 17 March 2016 from Shenowari of Baghlan e Markazi district under Baghlan province in Afghanistan. The incident happened when they were returning to Kunduz province BRAC office from a scheduled field visit.
BRAC is fully engaged in dealing with this crisis. BRAC Afghanistan authorities are in constant communication with the law enforcement agencies and the local administration and also has dispatched a team to Baghlan to coordinate the rescue efforts.
In immediate response, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh and Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan have assured their full cooperation.
BRAC officials in Bangladesh have been in communication with the families of Showkat and Siraz, keeping them informed of the latest situation and providing all necessary support.
BRAC has been in operation in Afghanistan, the first country presence of BRAC International, since 2002 helping the country to rebuild after the war. It currently runs programmes in health, girls education and is a partner of the Afghan Government in their National Solidarity Programme initiated to rehabilitate 5000 villages in Afghanistan. Its total budget for 2016 is about 15 million USD and it has a staff of 857 with about 61 of its staff being from Bangladesh and rest being from Afghanistan.BRAC's Afghanistan operation has reached 5.6 million people so far. For more information on our Afghanistan programme, click here.
BRAC is working all out to ensure a safe and speedy release of its abducted staff members.
“Ensuring safety at workplace can help increasing women’s participation in the working sector” -said state minister of MoWCA Begum Meher Afroze Chumki, MP
State minister for Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) of Bangladesh Government, Begum Meher Afroze Chumki, MP, emphasised on women’s safety at work place to increase women’s participation, at a national dialogue today. The dialogue titled “Safe Spaces for Women at Workplace” was jointly organised by BRAC and Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST) to mark International Women’s Day 2016.
As more women are participating in work outside home than ever before, ensuring safety for women at their workplaces has now become one of the most pressing agendas. Although the High Court issued a directive in 2009 to prevent and provide protection against sexual harassment at all workplaces, compliance with this directive is still not up to the mark. The dialogue was organised to start a conversation among private sector organisations to address the issue.
Barrister Sara Hossain from BLAST highlighted the nature of sexual harassment and what are the barriers for women to complain against it. She also put emphasis on the high court directive on sexual harassment redressal in her presentation. She said, “Even after seven years of the high court directive on sexual harassment redressal, it has not been made a law. In addition to this, the conditions or exact penalty in case of non-compliance with the directive is still not clear.” In her presentation she also stressed that the guideline only talks about the women, there is no mention of the third gender.
Maheen Sultan, visiting fellow of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development made a presentation on “Addressing sexual harassment in the garments sector: Good practices and findings”.
BRAC’s programme head of human rights and legal aid services (HRLS) Sajeda Farisa Kabir’s presentation addressed BRAC’s experience and learning in Addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. BRAC has more than a decade of experience in addressing sexual harassment issues at workplace, providing support to its 112,934 national staff, working in 64 districts and more than 8,000 staff working in 11 countries.
Present at the event were representative from private sector organisations like Nestle Bangladesh, Afroz, Incepta. The dialogue was moderated by BRAC's executive director Dr Muhammad Musa.
BRAC's chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed joined a panel discussion today, 12 March, on Income Inequality, Demographic Change, and Gender at the three-day-long Advancing Asia conference in Delhi, India. He was joined by Milwida Guevara, CEO of Synergeia Foundation, Philippines, Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog India, Azeema Adam, Governor of Maldives Monetary Authority and Zia Mody, Partner, AZB and Partners, India. The session was moderated by Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Watch the session here.
Learn more about Advancing Asia Conference here.
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