Dhaka, 20 February 2022: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and BRAC have partnered and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance the effectiveness of poverty eradication and make these efforts more impactful to ensure inclusive growth for Bangladesh.
Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh, and Mr. Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC, signed the MoU on 20 February on behalf of their respective organizations at UNDP Office, Dhaka.
Under this partnership both the organizations will work together to enhance the effectiveness of poverty eradication effort for fostering inclusive growth in Bangladesh. Evidence based policies and programmes will be designed and a platform will be created to further strengthen the social protection systems in Bangladesh to make sure no one is left behind.
Signing the ceremony, Sudipto Mukerjee said, “The partnership will assist the government of Bangladesh to effectively identify and transfer social protection benefits to people living in extreme poverty. It will also pilot and develop holistic livelihood programmes collaboratively with different ministries of Bangladesh to ensure the access to social safety net programme, and help the government in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
“A timely and much required partnership to assist the Government of Bangladesh in bridging the gaps to achieve poverty eradication and sustainable livelihoods for people living in extreme poverty by 2030”, said Asif Saleh. He further emphasized, “This partnership will help strengthen ongoing efforts and design new joint initiatives for social protection and resilience building as we recover and try to build back better from COVID related shocks."
BRAC and UNDP have a long history of successful partnerships at both the national and global level in the field of poverty eradication and human development, and are committed to support the Bangladesh government in its effort to ensure inclusive growth.
BRAC, the world’s number one development organisation, will reach its 50th birthday in March this year. To celebrate the anniversary the organisation has organised a contest styled “I am BRAC – Apon Tara” to find out and inspire the cultural talents hidden in its thousands of employees across the country.
Open to all of its over 67 thousand members of staff, the competition had its final round organised today on Tuesday (15 February) at the BRAC Centre auditorium at Mohakhali in the capital. A star-studded panel with famed singers Bappa Mazumder and Miftah Zaman and celebrated actor Azmeri Haque Badhon judged the winners of the final round at the gala finale, who also opened the competition on 21 November last year.
The winners of the contest held in three categories – music, poetry recital and acting – are: … in music the first prize goes to Akhi Palit (SELP programme), second prize to Md Razibul Hasan (Finance and Accounts) and third prize to Opu Chandra Gope (Aarong). In the poetry recital and acting categories only one prize has been given for each. Munmun Khan (GJ&D programme) was the winner in poetry recital and Mohammad Ashibuzzaman won in the acting category. All the winners were handed over crests.
Tamara Hasan Abed, managing director of BRAC, said on organising the contest, “BRAC was born about the same time Bangladesh was born as a sovereign nation. As part of our celebration of our golden jubilee we had initiated this contest to find the hidden talents of our organisation. We are truly grateful for the spontaneous support we have received from the contestants and judges, from each and everybody while organising this event.”
Singer Bappa Mazumder said, “BRAC and I are of the same age. I am honoured to have this opportunity to be present in this golden jubilee celebration. I request BRAC to take initiative for the publicity of these talents we have discovered through this contest across the country.”
Actor Azmeri Haque Badhon said, “I have been deeply touched by all these great arrangements and your performances today. I believe all organisations should take such initiatives for their staff.”
Designed in three episodes namely primary, divisional and final, the primary round was held through online submission. Participants submitted a total of 1,383 video clips of their performances which were judged by a 32-strong panel to select 160 participants for the divisional level.
The divisional episode was held in person in six districts – Dhaka, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Jessore, Moulvibazar and Chittagong. A 3-member expert panel for each category judged the performances to select 20 participants in each to move to the final round.
The 3-month long competition spread the vive of the golden jubilee celebration across the BRAC offices around the country. Contestants sent video clips of spirited song performances accompanied by harmonium and tabla right on the office premises. Some contestants recorded their routines at home aided by their family members. Some again recorded their full throated solo recitals on a riverbank or an open ground. Some highly enthusiastic contestants even arranged sets or a stage to create the proper ambience to act out their chosen monologues.
Promoting innovations to transform the lives of women in RMG industry
BRAC, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation have announced the six winners of the international competition titled “STITCH for RMG: Global Innovation Challenge”. The announcement was made last evening (Tuesday, 7 February 2022) at a virtual event organised by BRAC Social Innovation Lab, H&M Foundation, and The Asia Foundation.
The global competition was launched October last year (2021) to promote improved livelihood opportunities for the women working at the export-oriented readymade garment factories in Bangladesh, promote gender equality at the factory floors and increase factory performance.
The six winning teams of the competition are: Agroshift, iSmart, Jyoti, Quizrr, Sustify and ToguMogu. Faruque Hassan, president, BGMEA, Asif Saleh, executive director, BRAC, and Diana Amini, global manager, H&M Foundation, and Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, country representative, The Asia Foundation, congratulated the winners.
Diana Amini, GM, H&M Foundation, said, ”I think we all have different roles to play, and for us, representing the philanthropic sector, our role is to be able to support early-stage ideas, methods, innovations, and also to be able to take risks that other actors cannot. And together with our partners, we can also co-create and validate solutions and invite others to play a part in helping us scale them.”
Asif Saleh, ED, BRAC, said, “Unlike how it is perceived elsewhere, we looked at innovation that is not necessarily driven by products, it can be about processes, it can be about simple solutions, and particularly, simplicity is the key toward scaling.”
Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, CR, The Asia Foundation, said, “The thing that stood out for me in the pitches is that all the applicants used empathy to create their solution, that it is not just technology, rather how it is more appropriate in a context, in a gender sensitive manner. I think that empathy can be seen in all the programmes, in the global nature of it and the innovative nature of it”
Faruque Hassan, president, BGMEA, said, “We need more attention and investment in innovation, from businesses and state level, to upscale our capability and adaption. Global buyers are looking for sustainable manufacturing sources which resource efficient, without technology, optimum use of water, energy, and other resources cannot be ensured. So, we need to ensure 4th generation of technology in our supply chain.”
A member of team Quizrr said on behalf of the winners, “We look forward to new collaborations through this network. We want to learn from each other, so we can further accelerate our solutions and provide better innovations to this industry and its workforce.”
The awards for the winning teams come with grants up to USD 30,000 to pilot the solutions. The winners also will have opportunities for bootcamp training with mentors, incubators, and accelerators.
The solution focus of the winning teams are as follows.
The competition started with a “concept round” in which 220 applications were received and 50 applications were shortlisted for video submissions in the “pitching round”. A total of 12 teams won to move to the final round that organised a virtual marketplace, offering opportunities to partner with RMG factories. Through a tough competition the winning teams secured opportunities to incubate their projects in these factories that had volunteered to provide time, space, and other resources for the purpose.
The Marketplace Round was a unique opportunity for the competitors both from Bangladesh and beyond to discuss their ideas with factory owners and representatives, through which they were able to understand the probable demand and feasibility of their solutions on the ground. It was a matchmaking process where the factory owners jointly showed interest in developing the business together with the team they got matched with.
The competing ideas and solutions covered a range of themes from health, to skill development, security, sustainability and others. In total nine teams moved forward with factories based on the overall practicality of their solution. Of them, six teams topped the competition.
The “STITCH for RMG: Global Innovation Challenge” is part of the STITCH for RMG pilot project undertaken by BRAC, H&M Foundation and The Asia Foundation. The goal of the project is to create an environment that advances welfare and livelihood of the women in ready-made garments sector of Bangladesh as well as boost Bangladesh’s performance in the RMG industry.
BRAC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Embassy of Denmark (EoD) in Bangladesh this morning (Thursday, 27 January) at the Danish ambassador's residence to implement a project titled ‘Enhancing Safe Drinking Water Security and Climate Resilience through Rainwater Harvesting’ in Mongla Upazila of Bagerhat District. The Danish embassy in Bangladesh will provide the total budget of the project at 29 million DKK over three years of project period to reach 67,300 climate vulnerable people with access to safe drinking water.
Mongla is one of the most climate-vulnerable areas in Bangladesh, particularly in terms of salinity intrusion. More than 60% of its inhabitants have no access to safe drinking water and are suffering from health and income loss. Women and girls are disproportionately affected due to the overburden of domestic work and social insecurity.
Winnie Estrup Petersen, ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh, said at the signing ceremony, “We are very happy to take this step to deliver on the talks of COP 26. By 2023, Denmark will provide at least 500 million USD per year globally in grant-based climate finance. Bangladesh is amongst the world’s most climate vulnerable countries and should of course benefit from our strong climate commitment. This partnership signals first of several Danish commitments to climate adaptation and mitigation programmes for Bangladesh starting 2022.”
Highlighting the importance of adapting climate-adaptive measures for the people of the coastal belt of Bangladesh, Asif Saleh, executive director of BRAC said on the occasion, "No one should walk 2 km to fetch drinking water. However, climate change is driving an acute drinking water crisis in coastal Bangladesh. BRAC has been working persistently to ensure this basic human right of getting safe drinking water. We appreciate very much the support of the Embassy of Denmark in this endeavor. Together we will work towards developing a holistic and sustainable model of providing water at the last mile for every single Bangladeshi."
The project’s goal is to improve the wellbeing of the most climate-vulnerable population of the upazila by creating access to a nearby source of safe drinking water, a solution which can be replicated in other similar localities. In line with the Danish Development Strategy “The World We Share”, the project will enhance climate resilience following a community-centric locally-led approach, while coordinating with the government and other non-governmental actors.
BRAC Global is pleased to announce that Jerome Oberreit has been appointed as its first Executive Director, effective 10 January 2022.
BRAC is an international development organisation founded in Bangladesh in 1972 that partners globally with over 100 million people living with inequality and poverty to create sustainable opportunities to realise their potential. BRAC Global was established in 2019 by BRAC’s founder, the late Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, to promote policy and programmatic lessons from BRAC among the global development community, and to provide coordination and coherence across all of BRAC’s entities. The OneBRAC family includes two operational entities – BRAC Bangladesh and BRAC International; and two fundraising entities – BRAC UK and BRAC USA. BRAC Global is distinct from BRAC International which implements BRAC’s development programs on the ground in all countries apart from Bangladesh.
As Executive Director of BRAC Global, Jerome will, together with the leaders of other BRAC entities, play a critical role in advancing BRAC’s global strategy, resource mobilisation and organisational development. Jerome will guide the development of key cross-cutting issues, including risk management and safeguarding, human resource, financial management, communications, monitoring and learning.
“The Board of BRAC Global is delighted that Jerome Oberreit brings to the OneBRAC family a range of relevant experience and skills from his distinguished career with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and is confident that Jerome will provide the kind of facilitative leadership to the OneBRAC family that BRAC Global is committed to,” said Marty Chen, Chair of the BRAC Global Board.
“As BRAC turns 50, its achievements as a truly person-centric organisation are humbling. I am both honoured and excited to be the Executive Director of BRAC Global. We remain in a world of great uncertainly as the pandemic, climate change, global inequalities, and the continued unprecedented displacement remind us. These uncertainties reinforce the need for all of us, individually and collectively, to be socially enterprising. With a deep understanding of poverty reduction, BRAC has shown, through a supportive and inclusive approach with each individual, community and national partnership, how empowerment can create the necessary opportunities to turn lives around in the most challenging environments. BRAC is critical to reducing poverty and paving the road to social justice in our fast-changing world. I very much look forward to being part of this incredible journey,” said Jerome.
From 2012 to 2018, Jerome was the Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières International having been the Director of programmes from 2006 to 2012. He was instrumental in coordinating complex organisational systems in a multi-centric organisation focused on providing health services to the most neglected in resource-limited environments. In this role he led global positioning efforts and defined strategies and systems for securing resources (financial, human, and technical), ensuring both internal and external accountability. He also has country-level experience with MSF in several African countries and in the Middle East.
From 2019 to 2021, Jerome took part in the development of the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), a new initiative launched by the World Health Organisation and Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative, where he held the position of Senior Advisor to the Executive Director.
Jerome is fluent in French and English, holds a master’s in geography, and a bachelor’s in politics and geography.
Distribution will be made among most vulnerable communities across country
As Bangladesh braces for a probable new wave of Covid-19, exacerbated by the Omicron variant, BRAC has received a bulk of 56 million three layered reusable cotton masks from Hanesbrands Inc., a US multinational corporation. The masks will be distributed among the most vulnerable people in all the 64 districts through community clinics.
Earl R Miller, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, formally handed over the masks to Asif Saleh, executive director of BRAC, at a ceremony at the BRAC Centre in the capital this evening (Thursday 06 January).
Lokman Hossain Miah, senior secretary to the Health Services Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, attended the event as the chief guest with KM Tariqul Islam, director general, NGO Affairs Bureau, and Earl R Miller, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, being present as special guests.
US-based funding organisation the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and Yale University jointly coordinated the initiative to deliver the masks to BRAC.
Senior secretary Lokman Hossain Miah congratulated BRAC, Hanesbrands and other entities involved in this “great” initiative, and said, “There are two major ways to tackle transmission of Covid-19 at present. One is to ensure the wearing of masks by people including rickshaw-pullers, street vendors and day labourers who are constantly on the move for their livelihoods, and the other is vaccination. So it’s imperative that we make facemasks easily available to these people.”
US ambassador Earl R Miller at the ceremony said, “BRAC, the Government of Bangladesh, the American private sector and the US Embassy are working together to provide over 56 million masks to the Bangladeshi people donated by Hanesbrand, the American clothing company based in North Carolina. By heeding the lessons of science and history and through collaborative efforts like these, together, as a global community, we will defeat this pandemic.”
NGO Affairs Bureau director general KM Tariqul Islam said, “This bulk of masks will greatly help our vulnerable communities continue their fight against the pandemic. BRAC will distribute these masks across the country through the government’s community clinics network.
The BRAC executive director thanked the US government, Hanesbrands, Open Society Foundation (OSF) and Yale University for mobilising the donation and said, “Making masks available and accessible for all is crucial in the fight against Covid-19. We have seen significant success in mass vaccination in high-risk areas in Bangladesh, but additional preventive measures such as wearing masks are still vital. This donation will allow us to scale up our preventative efforts, and ensure that we can get free masks to the people who need them the most. We are extremely grateful to have support from multiple partners, which in addition to providing resources, provides us with encouragement that we are not in this fight alone.”
On 8 December 2021, BRAC's gender justice and diversity programme, with the support of BRAC’s social empowerment and legal protection (SELP), organised a roundtable discussion on ‘Strengthening the public prosecution system to ensure justice for sexual and gender-based violence’ in solidarity with the 16 Days of Activism 2021.
The discussion focused on identifying the best practices and potential solutions which can overcome key weaknesses in the public prosecution system in order to ensure justice in cases of violence against women and girls. Therefore it brought together key actors from all stages of the public prosecution system, such as police officers, forensic doctors, public prosecutors, legal aid lawyers, judges, along with government and non-government service providers, development partners and activists.
The discussants at the event included: Md Golam Kibria, Director (Training), Judicial Administration and Training Institute (JATI); Anna Minj, Director, Integrated Development Programme; Advisor, SELP and Protection Cluster, HCMP, BRAC; Jenefa Jabbar, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; Director, Social Compliance and Safeguarding, BRAC; Nobonita Chowdhury, Director, Gender Justice and Diversity, and Preventing Violence Against Women Initiative, BRAC; Dr Md Shahadat Hossain Mahmud, Director General (Additional Secretary), Health Economics Unit, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Md Habibur Rahman Chowdhury, Deputy Director (Finance), Joint District and Sessions Judge, National Legal Aid Services Organization, Law and Justice Division, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; Mohammad Tabarak Ullah, Additional Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, National Emergency Service, Bangladesh Police; Ali Asgor Swapon, Special Public Prosecutor, Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunal Tribunal, Dhaka; Reena Debnath, Special Public Prosecutor, Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunal Tribunal, Narsingdi; and Dr Sohel Mahmud, Head, Department of Forensic Medicine, Sir Salimullah Medical College. Family members of a rape survivor and acid violence survivor also spoke at the event, highlighting the challenges and hurdles they faced when seeking justice.
The discussants highlighted the necessity of a number of reforms, including the need to: introduce a victim and witness protection system, incorporate virtual court system in Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunals, ensure gender sensitisation training for justice sector actors (such as judges and public prosecutors) and introduce a compensation scheme for survivors. The discussants also stressed the need to increase budgetary allocation for the public prosecution system and support services for survivors, such as by appointing more judges and prosecutors and establishing One Stop Crisis Centres and shelter homes in every district. All discussants acknowledged the necessity of jointly working together towards strengthening the public prosecution system to ensure justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
The retail sector of Bangladesh has already employed over six million (60 lakh) people. The sector has much growth potentials and will create employment opportunities for many more youths particularly women from the disadvantaged sections of the society in the coming years. Speakers came up with the observation while addressing a roundtable discussion on “Enhancing employment: Opportunities for youth in Bangladesh’s retail sector” organised in Dhaka today on Thursday.
The event, organised by BRAC’s Skills Development Programme (SDP) at the BRAC Centre this morning, aims to foster discussions with the private sector on youth employment in retail sales and skills training required for the jobs and advocate women and persons with disabilities inclusion in the retail industry.
Nihad Kabir, president, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) was present as the chief guest at the event. Speakers at the roundtable, among others, were Tamara Abed, managing director of Aarong, BRAC, Syed Nasim Manzur, MD of Apex Footwear Ltd, Murtoza Zaman, chief executive officer of Unimart, Tanvir Sohel Khan, business director of Shwapno, Shaheen Khan, chief executive officer of Gemcon Food and Agricultural Products Ltd, Nure Alam Shimu, Managing Director of Gadget and Gear, M.M. Ferdous, Executive Director of Best Electronics, Mosaraf Hossain, Chief Operating Officer of Mirror Outfitters, Rubaiyath Sarwar, Managing Director of Innovision Consulting Ltd, Aziza Ahmed, head of operations of Bangladesh Business and Disability Network, Masudul Haq, MD of Amanah Group, Maria Huq, director of BRAC, Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, Current in-charge, BRAC Skills Development Programme, and Joydeep Sinha Roy, Head of Operations, BRAC Skills Development Programme.
Considering the prospect of job creation in this sector, BRAC’s SDP is implementing a project titled “Progressing the retail sector by improving decent employment (PRIDE)”. The project aims to create a model for scale, providing sustainable livelihoods for low-income urban youths in Bangladesh in partnership with the retail sector and the Government of Bangladesh.
The retail sales project, funded by IKEA Foundation and UBS Optimus Foundation, aims to impact changes in the retail sector by providing decent work opportunities for disadvantaged urban youth, particularly women and persons with disabilities. It also supports industry standardisation in major cities like Dhaka, Khulna, Chattogram and Sylhet.
MCCI president Nihad Kabir in his chief guest’s speech said, “Women essentially need training to enter jobs in the retail sector. But at the moment training facilities for the aspirants are very limited. The government should focus on establishing these facilities.”
MD of Aarong Tamara Abed said, “It lies with us the employers to create decent work environment for both men and women at the workplace. There should be a continuous effort to make workplace environment more comfortable and healthy. There should also be sexual harassment prevention policies at place. Businesses should have separate washrooms and shift-based work schedule not only for women staff, but for the persons with disabilities also.”
Apex Footwear MD Syed Nasim Manzur observed, “It’s not only sufficient to organise training and employment in the retail sector, but quality improvement of the sector is also imperative. The government needs to play a decisive role in formulating necessary laws and giving recognition.”
Gemcon Food CEO Shaheen Khan said, “It’s a highly conventional idea that women cannot work as hard men. The women retailers in Bangladesh have proved their ability. We want more women in retailing. We have policy of inclusion in our business.”
Though the retail industry contributes significantly to Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), opportunities for formal training hardly exists in the country for those looking for jobs in this sector. A baseline survey conducted in 2020 showed that a very low percentage of retailers provide formal training for their employees.
BRAC SDP, in collaboration with Bangladesh Technical Education Board has developed the country’s first accredited retail sales training module. Following this module SDP is currently providing training to those participating in its own training courses. Since the training began 54% of its participants are currently employed despite having no prior experience and the Covid-19 situation.
The retail industry in Bangladesh is male dominated with only 8% females. Retailers are reluctant to hire female staff citing safety issues and due to a pervasive perception that women cannot take physical strain. In the baseline survey, more than 50% of the respondent persons with disabilities stated they were not provided with specialised orientation although they had no previous work experience.
Retailers who did not hire persons with disabilities stated a number of reasons, the major ones among them are - the nature of business was not suitable, lack of accommodation at the workplace, and no applications received from aspirant persons with disabilities.
More than 50 million (5 crore) people involved in the country’s informal sector have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic. Women and adolescent girls engaged in this sector still suffered the worst of all. Participation in the labour market through effective skills training should be a high priority to assist them in recovering the situation. Speakers expressed these views at a discussion organised by BRAC’s Skills Development Programme (SDP) today on Thursday (2 December) at the BRAC Centre at Mohakhali in the capital.
K M Tarikul Islam, director-general, NGO Affairs Bureau, attended the event titled “Tackling Covid-19 adversities on girls and young women through skills training in the informal sector” as chief guest. Md Abul Kalam Azad, former principal coordinator (SDG affairs) at the Prime Minister’s Office was present as the special guest.
AFM Shahidur Rahman, director, Programme Development-Asia, PRL and Monitoring Department, BRAC, delivered the welcome speech, followed by a keynote presentation by Nobonita Chowdhury, director, Gender Justice & Diversity and Preventing Violence Against Women Initiative, BRAC, on the current state of girls and young women in the informal sector. Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, in-charge, Skills Development Programme, BRAC, and Dr Narayan Chandra Das, senior research fellow, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), gave another presentation on “Skills interventions for mitigating risks on girls and young women - skills training for advancing resources (star), an apprenticeship-based skills training model”.
Veera Mendonca, deputy representative, UNICEF Bangladesh, Shahriar Islam, senior programme manager, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon honoured as Commercially Important Person status by the government, chairman, Informal Sector Industry Skills Council, spoke as panel speakers.
The speakers observed that the informal sector has been the worst affected in terms of the country’s labour market. The situation has its direct impact on the people involved in the sector, risking the livelihood of 52 million (5 crore 20 lakh) people. Women are the worst sufferer as nearly 91.8 per cent of total women labour force are engaged in informal economy.
A research carried out by BRAC last year (2020) revealed that regular earning dropped by 66 per cent for women involved in the informal sector, while their opportunities for work reduced by 24 per cent. Apart from these, the risk of dropping out of school has seen an alarming rise due to a prolonged shutdown of educational institutions and economic crisis, which has its inevitable adverse impact on other social situations.
Another study reveals that child marriage saw a staggering rise by 220 per cent between July and September last year. Experts mostly put down the causes to staying out of school and earning.
To recover from the crisis, BRAC puts particular emphasis on the re-engagement of women in the labour market and has accordingly designed its programmes and activities to fulfil that aim.
NGO Affairs Bureau director-general KM Tarikul Islam said, “All the organisations are working to fulfil the aim to have 10 million (1 crore) people employed in the Mujib Borsho (Birth Centenary of Mujib). The government has created a number of industries which will provide employment to women as well. But it’s a big challenge to tackle which the non-state development actors should come forward to assist the government.”
Former principal coordinator for SDG affairs at the PMO Md Abul Kalam Azad said, “In Bangladesh over 18 million (1.8 crore) women are employed in the labour market. We must also think what crisis these women may face in their livelihoods in case the Omicron variant of Corona virus spread in Bangladesh. We have to be adequately prepared to tackle the situation.”
In his closing remarks BRAC’s senior director KAM Morshed said, “It is a time when skills development should be a planned option. Many young people can choose skills development education instead of pursuing the path of conventional education.”
The local service mapping website titled “Shongjog” will offer information on medical, legal, psychosocial and other relevant local services.
BRAC has launched a specially designed database on a user-friendly local service mapping website called “Shongjog” to support survivors of violence to access eight types of necessary information and avail services from state and non-state actors.
The interactive tool that offers name, contact details and other information on service providing agencies was introduced for the public at an event held at the BRAC Centre on Thursday morning, 2 December 2021.
BRAC will offer information on eight types of services from this platform that has been developed based on a mapping conducted in 61 districts covering 435 upazilas across Bangladesh.
Aroma Dutta, member of parliament, and Md Habibur Rahman Chowdhury, deputy director, National Legal Aid Service Organisation (NLASO), attended the event as the chief guest and special guest respectively. Asif Saleh, executive director, and Jenefa Jabbar, director, Social Compliance and Safeguarding, BRAC, also spoke at the event.
The services in the mapping mainly include medical/health services, legal services, psychosocial services, safe/shelter homes, police stations and other necessary local service information for the survivors of violence. Through this website any victims/survivors of abuse, harassment and violence will be able to gain access to information and services designed to assist them to recover from traumatic experiences. It will result in an increased access to the system of government and non-governmental services, expected the organisers.
Appreciating this initiative, lawmaker Aroma Dutta called on all the civil society entities working on women’s rights to join the effort. She suggested BRAC should use the information on this website to develop a data bank to ensure more efficient support for survivors of violence.
NLASO deputy director Md Habibur Rahman Chowdhury assured that initiative will be taken to add details of all the government legal aid offices in different districts to this website. He emphasised the need to bring all the organisations working with survivors of violence under a single umbrella for success of this initiative.
BRAC executive director Asif Saleh said “This initiative will be truly successful only when people will get updated information from this site. But it’s not possible for BRAC only to entirely update it. It needs collaboration from all relevant stakeholders.” He urged all to not consider the website as an initiative solely of BRAC and to make their own contributions so that it becomes successful.
Jenefa Jabbar, director, Social Compliance and Safeguarding, BRAC, said her organisation will collaborate with the government and non-state actors at both the central and local levels to create a wider range of connectivity and referral linkage.
Taslima Yesmin, associate professor, Department. of Law at the University of Dhaka, and representatives from different organisations also attended the event. From BRAC, Tahmina Yesmin, safeguarding lead, Kollol Nag, Head of Platform under Technology Division, Taqbir Huda, advocacy lead for Communications and PVAW at Gender Justice and Diversity Programme, and Shashwatee Biplob, programme head, Social Empowerment and Legal Protection (SELP), were present, among others at the programme.