One out of two girls in Bangladesh are married before they turn 18, making them more vulnerable to violence and poverty.
We strive to shift the mindsets that accept child marriage, gender-based violence, and the culture of not seeking justice which results from putting a low value on the girl child, a complex judicial system and social stigma. Only 2.6% of married women in Bangladesh experiencing violence take legal action. Dedicated services to respond to violence are often unavailable.
Our community-led approach empowers girls to drive transformative change towards a society free from child marriage. Our legal aid services enable violence survivors to claim their rights. We started in October 2021, through the consolidation of BRAC’s two rights-based programmes: Human Rights and Legal Services and the Community Empowerment Programme.
girls are organised under 2400 girl brigades (Swapnosarothi) to combat child marriage
women leaders preventing gender-based violence and promoting rights in rural areas
recovered through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and courts in favour of clients
*From 2001 to 2023
“BRAC Social Empowerment and Legal Protection Programme is actively engaged in grassroots initiatives for women's empowerment, child marriage prevention, and provision of legal assistance. Girls brigade called Swapnosarothi is being formed, consisting of adolescent girls who participate in diverse life skills development sessions. These initiatives are strategically designed to foster women's empowerment and deter child marriages. Furthermore, the programme plays a pivotal role in advocating women's rights, settling familial disputes, and facilitating the reconciliation of marital relationships through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The programme maintains consistent communication with the upazila administration to ensure effective implementation. The upazila administration stands in alliance, offering comprehensive cooperation to support these endeavours. My best wishes extend to the success of this programme.”
“BRAC Social Empowerment and Legal Protection Programme is playing a leading role in developing women's leadership by building a community-based grassroots forum called Pollishomaj. The Pollishomaj members reported increased roles in accessing justice, protesting violence against women, child marriage, accessing safety net allocation for the right holders, participating in local governance institutions, and political process.
“On behalf of UNESCO, I would like to send my heartfelt congratulations to Radio Pollikontho for reaching this significant milestone of successfully operating a community radio station for over 10 years. Radio Pollikontho has spent the past decade developing its listening communities through the radio, as well as other online and offline activities. Its initiatives have been greatly praiseworthy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT WE DO
Organising girl brigades and providing life skills
We empower girls through grassroots organisation and life skills training, increasing their aspirations and improving their overall well-being.
Engaging the community to prevent child marriage
Our community engagement strategy includes raising awareness, gaining parental support, and educating community leaders to prevent child marriage.
Raising awareness and building capacity
Tailor-made social and behaviour change communication and capacity-building initiatives to increase social awareness and action against child marriage.
Piloting innovative interventions to reduce child marriage
Conditional cash transfers and need-based livelihood support to the parents of the girl child living in vulnerable conditions.
Legal aid services
Legal advice and counselling, alternative dispute resolution and court case support for survivors of violence.
Evidence-based national and local-level advocacy
Randomised controlled trials to create evidence for strengthening national and local systems through advocacy initiatives to address child marriage and legal aid shortcomings.
Action drama and community radio increase access to information
Popular theatre and community radio disseminate information on socioeconomic issues, including rights, entitlements, gender-based violence and harmful practices.
HOW WE DO IT
Swapnosarothi (Girls Agency)
2400 girls’ groups across Bangladesh, through which girls can combat child marriage and realise their potential.
Legal aid clinics
240 clinics provide free legal support to survivors of gender-based violence and people living in vulnerable conditions.
2,400 local folk artists and 240 community theatre groups raise awareness and share information in local dialects.
Community radio: Radio Pollikontho 99.2 FM
1million+ people reached each year with social awareness messages in the local dialect.
Partnerships and collaboration
Partnering with government agencies, different advocacy platforms and coalitions, and BRAC’s programmes to empower girls, and ensure multi-sectoral services, and access to justice for violence survivors.
WHY IT WORKS
Community and girls-led approach
Empowers girls to build self-confidence and develop life skills to embrace leadership roles in their lives.
Information delivered through edutainment storytelling
Nurtures the tradition of storytelling to raise awareness through popular theatre shows and community radio.
Accessible legal information and services at the community level
Reaches out to the doorsteps of the violence survivors by bringing free legal advice, alternative dispute resolution, and needs-based case support.