Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMGFor nearly half a century, our work at BRAC has supported the building of a gender-equitable world. What would a gender-equitable world look like? A world where cultures, embedded systems and values based on patriarchy are replaced by cultures, systems and values that empower and create opportunities for all. A world where girls are just as likely to gain education and skills as boys, where women are just as likely as men to own land, have control over assets and decisions, and succeed in the workplace, and where men and women share responsibilities at home equally. Gender equity is a cross-cutting issue for all of us - individuals, communities, corporate organisations, non-government organisations and governments. We all need to push ahead and find new ways to achieve this. Gender equity plays a vital role in both social development and domestic harmony and, as such, remains one of our top commitments at BRAC. We will continue to fight against anything that stands in the way of women’s development, holds women back, deprives them of their rights and damages their self-esteem or self-respect.

Only a few countries have come close to achieving gender equality. By comparison, in the 11 countries where BRAC operates, the work is just beginning. Despite making creditable progress on some socioeconomic indicators, we still lag behind in ensuring respect and fair treatment for women. We must be steadfast in our struggle to create an equitable society.

Although the challenges may be daunting, we must not accept the world as it is today. Children should not be forced to become brides, women should not have to do more work for less pay, and wives and mothers should not have to carry a disproportionately high burden of responsibility at home. We cannot sit idly by as the harassment of women and girls continues unabated - at home, in public spaces and in the workplace. Rather, we must continue to act on our conviction that women are the real agents of positive change for their families, communities and for societies as a whole.

BRAC continued to tackle many of these issues head on in 2018. This report highlights some of our work in these areas. As we move forward towards the third decade of this century, we must continue to prioritise action that will lead us towards gender equality, and must do so with a sense of impatience and urgency. We must strive to create a world free of systemic prejudice, where gender-based violence in all its forms is rooted out for good. For we cannot and will not have peace, justice or shared prosperity until we achieve gender equality.