Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00


1970s: The decade of women empowerment

1973 Gender equality rooted in the Sulla Project and women’s groups formed

1975 Women's project (with women handicraft producers) commences in Jamalpur to involve women directly in income generated assets (IGA)

1980s: The decade of women as rural professionals

1985 Enrolment of 70 per cent girls in non-formal primary education programme

1990s: The decade of applying gender equality principles within BRAC

1991 Women's health and development programme was initiated

1992 Organised gender consultation meetings with senior management to assess the need for gender training for BRAC staff, while assessing the quality of training

1993 Pioneered management level, five-day long gender training on gender awareness and analysis course (GAAC) for staff with the aim of raising awareness and building analytical skill

1994 Conducted an intensive assessment survey on the gender needs of BRAC staff members

1995 The gender and organisational change intervention began formally through internal and external expertise. A series of discourses took place with BRAC senior managers, including all levels of staff and external experts
Proactively promoted women’s leadership
BRAC’s non-formal primary education programme replicated in Africa
Gender quality action learning (GQAL) programme launched to improve staff relations, and improve the quality of BRAC programmes
"Women only" recruitment policy adopted for the year

1996 The gender resource centre (GRC) established for dissemination of gender ¬related information.
Launched Mina project in partnership with UNICEF
Eight months leave without pay introduced for women staff in addition to the three months paid maternity leave

1997 BRAC gender policy launched
BRAC organisational values defined – a drive of learning, un-learning, relearning, and bring about a gender sensitive organisational cultural to listen, challenge and innovate.
BRAC staff appraisal incorporated as an indicator of gender sensitivity
Critical analysis and open discussion with staff members on sexual harassment (SH) 

2003 All senior managers received gender training
Gender equality diversity team commenced with senior staff from all programmes

2004 Sexual harassment elimination (SHE) policy was enforced
Initiated “Mon Khule Kotha Bola” (To listen to the voice of the staff) forum to enable a friendly and communicative environment within the organisation.
Sexual harassment elimination (SHarE) section established
Increased seven days paternity leave instead of three days
Organised gender and SHE policy orientation
A microfinance loan for commercial sex workers is initiated

2005 Gender justice and diversity programme incepted under the human resources division, and the human resources policy and procedure (HRPP) integrated gender sensitivity
Gender quality action learning attached with the CFPR programme as a component

2006 Pilot project on sexual harassment launched with adolescent school children

2007 Gender policy was reviewed and updated
All programme-nominated gender focal points implemented gender policy on behalf of their respective programmes/departments

2008 SHE policy was reviewed and upgraded
Developed gender analysis framework for the Water and Sanitation and Hygiene programme
Gender sensitivity training launched for all branch offices

2009 Gender justice and diversity became an independent division with different projects focusing on gender equality within the organisation, and at the national and international level

2010s: The decade of strategic changes
MEJNIN – Meyeder Jonno Nirapad Nagorikotto (safe citizenship for girls) programme initiated to combat sexual harassment at public places
POSITION – Poribortito Jiboner Sandhane (to enhance a positive life) programme initiated to combat household level gender discrimination and domestic violence
Initiated a project with UNICEF as ‘Communication for Development: Promoting Sustainable Behaviour and Social Development Changes.’

2011 A gender audit was conducted
SHE policy was reviewed
Sexual harassment elimination (SHarE) unit became a part of GJD as a secretariat of the sexual harassment redressal committee (SHRC)
Gender equality goal (GEG) was formulated, and GEG Goal and Action Plan was approved by the BRAC governing body

Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00


“BRAC believes in gender justice and diversity, and we have worked for decades to integrate gender justice into the programmes and eliminate gender injustice in society,” such is the opinion of the Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed. For BRAC, gender justice and diversity means working simultaneously within the organisation and with the society.

The gender justice and diversity (GJD) division works to realise BRAC’s vision which is to free the world from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realise their potential. The division facilitates services to achieve gender equality within BRAC, focusing on gender equality at the local, national and international levels, where women and men have access to equal rights and opportunities, as well as can act to realise own choices and potentials in economic, social and cultural spheres.

After starting its official journey in 2005, the programme has a proven track record in facilitating community movement on violence against women (VAW) and children. It helps to build a gender-friendly working environment and community platform. Each individual within BRAC and in the community works as agents of change to establish a just society for women, men and children. Besides, the programme has been trying to incorporate the issue of diversity in all programme interventions. It acts as a catalyst to promote sensitivity on issues such as sexual and reproductive rights, people with different sexual orientation, and people with different abilities and cultural background. In addition to this, GJD is actively involved in the national level policy advocacy through different human rights organisations, networks and alliances of government, non-government, and civil society organisations.  GJD further seeks to work with various government departments to implant gender sensitivity and equality in future national policies.

GJD’s journey towards gender equality is rooted in BRAC’s Sulla Project in 1973. Recognising the distinct needs of poor women for empowerment and mutual support, BRAC formed the first women’s village organisation. Since the late 1980s, BRAC has directed its policies and programmes toward achieving gender equality through sustained interventions targeting women's—especially rural women’s - basic needs and strategic interests through health care, legal education, access to credit, gender awareness and training, and more. While addressing various issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment, GJD focus on both BRAC and the targeted populations. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed once said, “Gender equality is a sensitive issue which requires commitment from every level of the organisation and the integration of gender perspective into all activities”.  Thanks to this commitment, BRAC was one of the firsts in the development world to introduce a gender policy and form a gender equality diversity team (GEDT) in the mid-1990s.

Promote gender equality, empowerment and inclusiveness within BRAC as well as within the wider community. 

1. To promote a culture and environment, inclusiveness within all programmes, that respects gender equality
2. To build capacity of staff to achieve BRAC’s goal of gender equality
3. To create a platform for community mobilisation against gender-based discrimination and domestic violence, sexual harassment at the workplace and public-place
4. To promote sexual and reproductive health rights within the society
5. To increase policy advocacy networking for women’s rights, both nationally and internationally

Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Addressing Violence against Women



Addressing violence, particularly violence against women (VAW), is a key aspect of CEP's work. It does this by building community awareness and mobilising action for prevention. It also coordinates support for survivors of violence. To create a safer environment, particularly for women and children, CEP's approach involves engaging rural communities to monitor and prevent VAW towards creating a safer environment in the family and at the community level.

Stop violence initiative
Using the strong grassroots network of more than 12,000 polli shomaj facilitated by CEP, this initiative aims to identify and report on the incidents of VAW, provide survivor support services, and mobilise grassroots communities to prevent violence. This initiative is being carried out in 55 districts with emphasis in nine districts with the highest number of reported incidents. Activities under the initiative involves:

•    Identification and reporting
Polli shomaj serves as a strong network for identification and reporting of incidents of violence, particularly VAW. The reports are sent to BRAC head office within 24 hours of identification. These reports are stored in a central database which enables analysis of the data and provides directions for future action.

•    Survivor support
Coordinated support (emergency medical and legal aid, shelter homes, and rehabilitation) is provided to the survivors through collaboration with other BRAC programmes and partner organisations. The polli shomaj leaders are also sensitised on VAW-related issues so that polli shomaj can serve as shelter groups for survivors of violence. In addition, we provide professional psychosocial counselling to survivors both through individual and group counselling.

•    Mobilisation for violence prevention
CEP creates awareness among communities and mobilises them to protest and prevent VAW. To this end, polli shomaj and popular theatre plays a key role. In addition, debate and quiz competitions are arranged in educational institutions to create awareness on VAW among adolescents. Furthermore, district-level government and non-governmental service providers' coordination workshops are organised at regular intervals.

Monobondhu pilot initiative
Creating community-based psychosocial counsellors, also known as monobondhu in Bengali, is a new initiative of the programme. The community counsellors are women from polli shomaj and popular theatre groups who are trained by a professional clinical psychologist on techniques of psychosocial counselling. They provide psychosocial counselling to survivors of violence and their families, to enable them to cope with their personal suffering and societal attitudes, increase their self-esteem, and motivate and help them to socially reintegrate into their communities. This initiative started in 2013 and is set to continue until 2015, with the aim that 100 community counsellors will be formed in four districts of Bangladesh.

Monobondhu psychosocial counsellor handbook

Engaging men as partners to prevent VAW
This initiative is being implemented as a pilot to prevent VAW by engaging men and boys. It focuses on transforming the traditional notions of masculinity and gender norms that perpetuate men's violence against women. To this end, project activities are implemented through active engagement of men, adolescents and children who are boys. The duration of this pilot initiative is three years in 12 rural wards.

Leaflet: Engaging men as partners to prevent VAW

Improving the conditions for reconstruction and development in South Sudan, Yemen and Bangladesh
This project aims a larger replication of the proven local level community security model to improve public security and contribute to an environment in which peace dividends can be better realised. This four-year project is being implemented in 16 sites of five districts in the south-western region of Bangladesh, based on lessons learned and best practices of the community-based security and conflict prevention pilots. The pilot's staff will accompany communities through an action-plan process, which will enable them to identify and address their safety concerns in collaboration with others. This relies heavily on the participation and eventual leadership of the communities themselves.

Accelerating efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)
The Government of Bangladesh, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), UNDP Bangladesh and BRAC have jointly launched a new project, titled ‘accelerating efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence’ (SGBV).  The significant feature of this pilot project is a national online database on victims of violence against women (VAW).  The project respond to gaps in the institutional response to issues of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Bangladesh. Studies and researches reveal that the gaps exist mainly because incidents of SGBV in this country are usually not reported to the duty bearers, and thus remain unrecorded. The project addresses these shortcomings. It assists over 500 government officials linked through the VAW prevention network so that SGBV victims are able to solicit and receive help from service providers and also access legal and other support.  For the first time in Bangladesh, 60,000 SGBV victims will be directly connected to public and NGO support service providers through a real-time online database. It is being implemented in 425 unions of 45 sub-districts in all seven divisions of Bangladesh, based on the experience of successful interventions by the UN joint programme on VAW.

Ending child marriage at Badarganj
The project is developed as a pilot initiative to test an appropriate model for preventing child marriage in Badarganj, a sub-district of Rangpur district. The project is expected to prove the practical application of the community empowerment approach through involvement of all components of the programme. The 18-month project is aimed to change the perception of early marriage among the social and political leaders of the community; to make the relevant authorities responsive to implement the existing law against child marriage; to mobilise the adolescent groups to prevent child marriage; and to develop a network comprising all the relevant stakeholders against child marriage at Badarganj. Desired outcome of the project is expected through successful formation and mobilisation of coordination committees in different tiers of the community comprising representatives from all relevant stakeholder groups along with other awareness raising and community mobilisation activities.

Addressing violence against women and children through a coordinated approach
A number of BRAC programmes have specific activities to address violence against women and children (VaWC) through their programmatic interventions. The programmes have been working separately without any common framework for combating VaWC. The project ‘addressing violence against women and children through a coordinated approach’ was developed as a pilot initiative. It presents a coordinated approach to address VAWC, based on the gaps identified in the four programme’s ‘silo’ approach. Objectives of the project are to develop a scalable and comprehensive mechanism to reduce VaWC – one that can be mainstreamed across all BRAC programmes. It ensures a survivor’s access to need-based comprehensive support services and protection of their rights and to document and disseminate learning and good practices from BRAC interventions to combat VAWC in Bangladesh. The project is being piloted in the districts of Comilla and Gazipur and has a duration of three years (January 2015 - December 2017). The project activities address three domains – prevention, protection and social re-integration. Based on the success of the project, this approach can potentially serve as a broader organisational framework for combating VAWC through combined efforts of all BRAC programmes. CEP has been serving as the secretariat of the project. 



Handbook for community organisations to prevent violence against women
"No place is safe -Sexual abuse of children in rural Bangladesh" Article on Child Rape based on CEP reports
Lessons Learned Report of Community Safety Project


Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Access to Information


CEP recognises the power of information in addressing many of the social inequalities that exist in rural Bangladesh. We use community media such as, popular theatre and community radio to create awareness and address the gaps faced by poor people in accessing information. We use local dialects and the medium of entertainment to maximise the effect of information and messages. In addition, we focus on creating awareness at the grassroots level on Bangladesh's Right to Information Act, enabling rural citizens to benefit from it.

Popular theatre
Popular theatre is an effective communication medium for disseminating information within rural communities, particularly to those who are illiterate. Through popular theatre, CEP deals with a wide range of issues of local and national significance such as gender equality, dowry, child marriage, gender-based violence, good governance, environment, health, migration, HIV/AIDS, road safety and agriculture. Popular theatre also promotes women's voices, mobility and participation. The plays are usually staged in the evening, drawing large audiences including many women and children. A play typically draws an audience of between 250 and 500 people. Our popular theatre groups are formed by local folk artists. The stories are based on real life incidents and local context, and the messages are delivered in the local dialect. The plays stimulate the audience, create awareness and generate dialogue on issues that affect their lives. Our popular theatre activities are successfully being implemented by430 local popular theatre teams across 61 districts in Bangladesh with the active involvement of 4,300 local performers (30 per cent women) who act as agents of change within the community.
Download Popular theatre brochure
Popular theatre implementation guidebook

Radio Pollikontho, community radio project
Radio Pollikontho, a community radio station located in Moulvibazar in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh, is an initiative of CEP to ensure rural communities' access to information. The radio station covers a radius of 17 km reaching approximately 0.4 million rural citizens in the Moulvibazar district. Radio Pollikontho programmes are designed to address socioeconomic issues within the community. The programmes prioritise issues related to women and children. In addition, it promotes local folk tradition and culture. The community radio currently has 743 listeners’ clubs consisting of women, youth and children.
Visit Radio Pollikontho's web portal at:

Right to Information
The Right to Information (RTI) Act was passed in Bangladesh in 2009. However, the rural communities often cannot benefit from this act due to a lack of awareness about citizens' rights, the provisions in the act and how to use it. To enable poor rural citizens to benefit from the RTI Act, CEP is implementing a project called ‘creating awareness on RTI law for community empowerment’. The project aims to promote and popularise the RTI Act among the rural poor as well as to develop a cost-effective, community-based mechanism for accessing information. It is being implemented in 17 sub-districts under three districts. In addition to raising awareness through popular theatre and community mobilisation, the project is creating a cadre of community-based infomediaries from pollishomaj members and popular theatre groups who are assisting the rural poor to access information using the RTI Act.

Right to Information handbook
BRAC-WB RTI Project Evaluation Report
Poster on Right to Information Act
Poster on accessing information from union parishad


Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Strengthening Local Governance


Our initiative to strengthen local government institutions started in 2003. It aims to develop the capacity of the local government and their accountability to rural citizens with increased transparency. Additionally, it aims to promote participatory democracy, and create platforms for rural citizens and the local government to work together to meet local development challenges. Since 2003, we have provided capacity-building support and gender sensitisation to 30,022 UP members and chairmen in Bangladesh. Interventions under this component include:

Capacity development of UP representatives
Training and workshops are arranged for UP representatives (both women and men, including the chairmen) from selected areas. It ensures that the local government representatives have a clear understanding of the UP’s structure and activities and of their own roles and responsibilities to the people as elected members.

Upazila (sub-district) forum
Sub-district forums are formed with participation of UP members who are women. These forums create direct links with the sub-district level government officials, allow networking and sharing among themselves, strengthen accountability and promote women's leadership in the UP.

Ward council
We ensure that the trained UP officials conduct two ward shabha (ward meetings of union council officials, also known as ward council)  every year as mandated by the Union Parishad Law 2009 in the wards they represent. The council allows marginalised members of the community to share their concerns and problems with the UP officials.

Open budgeting
We provide support to the UP to prepare budgets which are formulated in line with the Union Parishad Operations Manual. This is followed by the open budget session, and is arranged to ensure transparency while taking our citizen’s opinions into account. It is a process that allows direct participation of citizens in the government’s decision-making procedure regarding development planning and resource allocation. It also enables citizens to hold the government accountable.

We have adopted a bottom-up advocacy approach to bring out concerns from the grassroots through the local levels to the national level. Advocacy initiatives engage key government officials at different levels, NGO and media representatives as well as different civil society stakeholders.


Local Government(Union Parishad) Act 2009
Evaluation report: Post-project evaluations for the United Nations democracy fund
Gender and good governance issues in local government of Bangladesh: A baseline report
Facilitating good governance at grassroots: BRAC and woman membes of UP
Poster on good governance
   Poster on active citizenship
•    Poster on union parishad standing commitees
•    Report: district level advocacy workshop


Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Community Institution Building



A key focus of the programme is to build the capacity of poor rural women. This is achieved by  mobilising them to take collective action against exploitation and social injustice, gain better access to local government resources, address systemic inequalities, and play an  active civic role in the public sphere. Since 1998, we have initiated more than 13,000 community-based organisations (CBO) called polli shomaj and union shomaj, concentrating in the poorest areas.

Polli shomaj and union shomaj
Polli shomaj is a ward-level institution for the poor, especially women. It serves as a forum through which the underserved people in the communities can raise their voice, claiming their rights and entitlements. There is a total of 12,350 such ward-level institutions in 55 districts, with an average of 55 members in each group. The union-level federation of polli shomaj groups are called union shomaj, which enable the rural poor to lobby directly with the union parishad (union council) and address issues that are beyond the capacity of polli shomaj to tackle. Union shomaj enhances the organisational strength of the groups and allows networking among different polli shomaj leaders. There are 1,215 union shomaj in 55 districts.

Broadly, polli shomaj and union shomaj are involved in four broad types of activities:  
•    Assisting the poor in their local communities to access government and non-governmental organisations' services and resources
•    Securing position for women in rural power structures
•    Participating in local government's development activities as well as in local social initiatives
•    Preventing conflict and violence, particularly violence against women

We emphasise on structurally strengthening these CBOs so that they can gradually function as independent forums for the poor. We provide tailor-made capacity development support to polli shomaj leaders to strengthen grassroots democracy and leadership of women.

Partnership model union - a joint initiative of community and local government institutions
CEP's pilot initiative called ‘partnership for model union’ builds on the strength of bottom-up development initiatives led by polli shomaj in collaboration with the union parishad (also known as the union council). The main strategy of the project is to mobilise community and local government for collective action in meeting their local development needs by using the resources and services available to them. The process is led by the community through polli shomaj where CEP plays the role of a development facilitator. Sector-based indicators are decided by the community and they take collective action to meet the government’s targets with support from the UP. This pilot is a scale up of the ideal ward initiative developed by CEP field staff, which was successfully implemented in Boragari union under Domar sub-district in Nilphamari in 2012. Two union councils in Nilphamary and Mymensingh under this pilot initiative are expected to be declared as model unions by 2015.

Advocacy for access promotion of the ultra poor (APUP)
APUP, a joint project of BRAC’s advocacy programme and CEP mobilises relevant stakeholders to ensure regular attendance of the ultra poor children in primary education and to increase access to government services (eg, health, livestock and social safety net programmes). The project is being implemented at the grassroots level in 20 sub-districts of Rangpur, Khulna, Naogaon and Sunamganj. Launched in 2013, the project is set to continue till 2015. Under the project, CEP is carrying out grassroots mobilisation-related activities by engaging pollishomaj forums. The project focuses to make the local level duty bearers more responsive and accountable to ensure service delivery and protect the rights of the ultra poor.

Rural organisations and active citizenship in Bangladesh:Evaluation of BRAC's polli shomai
Polli Shomaj operational guidebook
Poster: child marriage prevention
Sticker: child marriage prevention


Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00



BRAC Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) aims at achieving socio-political empowerment of the rural poor, particularly women, by enabling them to build, secure and use socio-political assets to improve their wellbeing, exercise their rights, take advantage of new opportunities and play a more active role in public life.  We are directly reaching nearly one million rural women through a set of programmatic interventions in the areas of:

•    Community Institution Building
•    Strengthening Local Governance
•    Access to Information
•    Addressing Violence against Women

We organise rural communities through democratic grassroots institutions called polli shomaj (a ward-level institution of poor women). Through these platforms, we create  awareness and build capacity for women's political participation and collective action against social injustice and exploitation. We use community media such as popular theatre and community radio to disseminate information to rural communities and mobilise them on a wide range of issues that affect their lives. At the same time, we engage with the local government to improve local governance through capacity building and institutional strengthening, gender sensitising, establishing forums of elected representatives who are women, and advocacy initiatives. Our objective is to help the local government become more transparent and responsive to the needs of the poor. We address violence against women through awareness raising andsupport services for victims. We increasingly emphasise on the engagement of men in the process of women's empowerment and to prevent violence against women.

Visit Radio Pollikontho's web portal at:
Find out more here: At a Glance



Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00


Institutional Donors

Omidyar Network
In 2011, HRLS partnered with Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm and BRAC USA to pilot a new property rights initiative (PRI). In this project, we have so far developed a revised human rights and legal education curriculum which shifts the paradigm from a purely legal literacy focus to one of rights articulation, centred on property rights. We have also trained 192 land measurers, or land entrepreneurs, who provide services in the form of boundary determination, possession confirmation, partitioning, and small plot assessments. The Property Rights Initiative is now being scaled up in four more districts across Bangladesh.  

Government Alliances

Ministry of Women and Children

Citizen’s Initiatives Against Domestic Violence
In 2010, HRLS joined The Citizen’s Initiatives against Domestic Violence, a group of like-minded organisations responsible for the drafting of the Domestic Violence (Protection and Prevention) Act, 2010. The rules will also apply to the implementation of this Act in 2011. This is an on-going process which has progressed to the drafting and consultation process of the above law and Rules.  

Membership to Distract Legal Aid Committees (DLAC) and National Legal Aid Services Organisation
In 2011, HRLS joined the network of the government administered District Legal Aid Committee (DLAC) through the National Legal Aid Services Organisation (NLASO). HRLS currently holds a combined membership and observership status to this committee across Bangladesh. Through this role, the programme will assist the government to enhance its capacity in providing legal aid services in Bangladesh’s 61 districts, which comprises HRLS coverage areas. HRLS collaboratively engages itself in the promotion of this committee’s work via various communications materials.  

Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons (IRSOP)

Ministry of Home Affairs
In February 2009, the HRLS programme, as an implementation partner, piloted a project on the criminal justice system and prison reform, designed to help overcome the problem of overcrowding in the Dhaka Central Jail and Kashimpur Central Jails part two and three, through a paralegal advisory model. This project is authorised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and receives financial and technical assistance from The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Since May 2010, HRLS has received supplementary support from AusAid’s Direct Aid programme towards providing legal aid services to under trial prisoners. This project’s duration is until February 2014. 

Knowledge Partners

BRAC Research and Evaluation Division
HRLS hosted a presentation and discussion on 19th July 2012 based on the findings of a study to discern the root causes behind parental or familial decisions to send children into domestic work. The study was conducted by BRAC’s research and evaluation division. This alliance is part of a broader project based on spreading awareness on, and upholding the rights of child domestic workers across Bangladesh funded by Gift2Asia. 

Implementation Partners

Acid Survivors’ Foundation
HRLS provides support to survivors of acid-throwing. We ensure legal counselling, fact-finding investigations, and case processing with the aid of panel lawyers across the country, in association with our partner, the Acid Survivor’s Foundation.  
Safety in the Workplace
The Safety and Rights Society is an implementation partner of HRLS, who funded an initiative related to deaths and injuries of construction workers and their families in the Labour Court. HRLS’ role is to ensure on-site investigation and reporting via family contact to help file compensation claims in the interest of these families.

Migrant Workers' Rights
In October 2013, BRAC HRLS programme and the BRAC Migration programme began a partnership after signing an official memorandum of understanding. Under this agreement, HRLS will make their services available to 123 migrant workers, whose cases will be referred to HRLS’s legal aid clinics across 17 districts in Bangladesh. Providing these services is part of HRLS’ agenda to protect and preserve the rights of migrant workers in the face of exploitation from devious brokers. The initiative is funded by the BRAC Migration programme and will extend until April 2015.

Global Human Rights Defence
In July 2013, BRAC HRLS began a partnership with Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), an international human rights NGO based in The Hague, Netherlands. The organisation promotes and advocates human rights for minorities and marginalised groups that face human rights violations. As per its Legal Assistance Fund, GHRD has given HRLS a grant to provide legal aid support in at least 10 cases involving GHRD’s target groups. These guidelines include indigenous groups and those marginalised for their religion, sexual orientation, as well as human rights defenders whose rights have been violated. HRLS will carry out periodic updates regarding case proceedings and the agreement is based on a six-month trial period, which is expected to end in December 2013.

BRAC HRLS joined Aarong’s Artisans Development Initiative in November 2012. The initiative is part of a combined BRAC-wide effort to provide comprehensive services to Aarong artisans in production centres across Bangladesh. HRLS will provide legal literacy services to artisans, including other grassroots women, so that they can protect themselves in the face of discrimination and exploitation within their communities. Services will be provided as per each individual case and thus far, the project has been scaled-up across eight districts.

Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Property Rights Initiative


Project background: Creating access to property rights requires not only a clear understanding of statutory and customary laws that govern claims,  but also the ability to navigate social constructs and dynamics that create incentives or disincentives for poor and vulnerable populations especially women. Thus, the ‘property rights initiative (PRI)’ has been designed to develop linkages between laws and rights by helping poor communities identify their entitlement to property rights and supporting them in accessing their claims.
First phase: The pilot phase of PRI was implemented in two northern districts (Rangpur and Gaibandha) of Bangladesh.

Second phase: After successful implementation of the 11-month pilot, PRI scaled up to four other northern districts (Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon) on July 2013. This initiative reached a total of 54 sub-districts, 491 union councils, 10,935 villages, 1.8 million households and 7.4 million people.

•    Ensuring access to property rights for poor and vulnerable people, particularly women in Bangladesh
•    Enable transformative behaviour change amongst poor and vulnerable members of the society, focusing mainly on women to understand and claim their rights on property and land
•    Develop outreach strategies to address procedural and social barriers in accessing property rights and convert latent claims for rights into actionable claims
•    Create a scalable model of rights awareness and focused engagement to ensure access to property rights with tangible outcomes

•    Local community leaders’ workshops
•    Training local community leaders
•    Training land entrepreneurs (LE) and engaging them in social enterprises
•    Courtyard sessions with community people

1.    A team of researchers from the Cambridge University’s Judge School of Business has been following the course of the initiative from its inception. They have developed a report on their findings titled ‘Motivation and performance of the land entrepreneur’. A seminar was organised to disseminate the findings on 31 March 2014.
2.    The Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh conducted a study titled ‘Socioeconomic costs of property disputes: An empirical examination from Bangladesh’, which was disseminated on 11 August 2014.
3.    Dr Ferdous Jahan, Professor, Department of Public Administration of the University of Dhaka conducted a research on social and intergenerational factors that create barriers for women and marginalised to access their right to land and property. Her research findings were disseminated on 15 June 2015.
4.    Mr Abdul Mannan, Former Director General of Directorate of Land Record and Survey did a study on institutional barriers for women and marginalised communities to access land and property rights which was disseminated on 15 June 2015.

BRAC has won the Global Justice Innovation Award 2014 in the ‘Successful Innovations’ category for the property rights initiative.

Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Legal Aid Services

Legal Aid Clinics

In 1998, HRLS instigated its Legal Aid component in order to provide legal support and make the government courts accessible to the poor and destitute. Through its 400 plus nationwide legal aid clinics, which is the first port of call for those seeking legal redressal, HRLS's legal aid initiative has nurtured an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism. It has worked towards making legal offices, courts, and counsels, more transparent in the delivery of equitable justice, spread gender awareness, and promoted a unique human rights based culture for its clients. In this way, our programme has harmonised its legal aid component with the legal literacy module to create the momentum to improve legal legislation and the judicial system.

Under the leadership of dynamic field personnel, the HRLS programme utilises a vast network of communities and proactive partners to detect, handle, and report, human rights violations. Today HRLS continues to provide holistic legal aid and support services across the country.


Fostering Human Rights Lawyering

We strengthen the capacity of a large network of Panel Lawyers for research, litigation, ensuring transparency in the formal legal sector, and monitoring case results. With this, clients receive due protection under the law, the rights to a fair trial, and do not face unnecessary delays resulting from the negligence of various actors in the formal judicial system. By this process, we ensure proper and equal access to justice for poor and marginalised people.


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