13 March 2013, Dhaka. The World Economic Forum (WEF) named Asif Saleh as one of its Young Global Leaders (YGL) of 2013 on 12 March 2013. The World Economic Forum, known for its annual meetings in Davos, is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Asif Saleh joins 198 other young leaders from 70 countries under the age of 40 for their professional accomplishments and commitment to the society. These 199 honourees (42 percent of whom are women) come from all sectors, with half of them from business sector and the other half from arts and culture, academia, civil society, government, media and non-profits.
“The Forum of Young Global Leaders provides a unique effort to engage the younger generation into the management of global affairs, working together and being integrated into the larger forum community. The Young Global Leaders have an exceptional opportunity to improve the state of the world,” said Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of World Economic Forum.
Congratulating the senior director, BRAC's founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “It is a great achievement for Asif and BRAC and I believe it will enable him to amplify the voices of the marginalized community at the global dialogue”.
Mr. Saleh said he was humbled by the recognition and excited by the prospect of collaborating with other honourees in shaping the global policy dialogue by bringing the social, private and public sector together.
Drawing from a pool of several thousand candidates, the honourees were selected for their proven track record of leadership excellence, ability to overcome adversity and commitment to society. The selection committee of 2013 YGLs was chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The 2013 honourees will become part of the broader YGL community to turn their personal success into global significance by up-scaling ideas that lead to positive changes in societies.
12 March 2013, Dhaka. On March 9, 2013 BRAC joined the international community to celebrate International Women's Day along with Samajik Protirodh Committee, a platform of 67 women and human rights organisations. A gathering and rally was held at the Central Shaheed Minar on the occasion. Rights activist Saheen Anam chaired the gathering; Chiroranjan Sarker of BRAC read the declaration of the programme, which was conducted by Rekha Chowdhury, the secretary of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad.
The committee placed a list of demands for women’s development including the increase in the number of reserved seat for women members in the parliament to one-third for the next two terms and direct election in those positions. Hence, areas for holding election have to be specified and the associated bill must be submitted in the current session of the parliament. There should also be arrangements for representation of the less fortunate groups of the society. Samajik Protirodh Committee will pursue their movement until these demands are fulfilled.
The declaration also demanded the amendment of the national constitution for fulfilling this goal. Ensuring one-third women’s participation in the political parties of the country has also become crucial as severe gender discrimination exists in political representation. The speakers noted that though women’s movement is growing worldwide, they still face discriminated and fall prey to violence in social, political and economic spheres. Emphasis was given on establishing constitutional paragraphs related to local government; women vice chairmen of the Upazillas should be allowed to participate in planning and development programmes to strengthen local government; an environment has to be created where indigenous people, differently able people, members of trans-gender group, religious minority groups along with women representatives elected in every level of local government can get the opportunity to perform their responsibilities in the parliament and local government structure. It is reiterated to reestablish secularism in the constitution like that of 1972. Other demands in the declaration include punishment to the war criminals of ’71; allocation of resources for specific responsibilities of women parliamentarians; establishing women’s equal rights in wealth and resources, implementation of CEDAW convention without any reservation etc. Above all, gender equality in the wages must be ensured in all sectors, be it formal or non-formal.
After the gathering, a procession was brought out from Shaheed Minar which finished at TSC of Dhaka University. Balloons decorated with slogan of women’s day were flown into the air from the base of the Shaheed Minar. BRAC goodwill ambassador, Wasfia Nazreen expressed her solidarity with the programme.
12 March 2013, Dhaka. BRAC’s gender justice & diversity programme(GJD), in association with Youth Forum Promoting Access to Development (YFPAD) jointly organised a youth cycle rally named “Awakening Cycle Rally”, in Dhaka as a part of celebrating International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2013. The rally started from Manik Miah Avenue at 9.30 am and ended at the Central Shahid Minar premise crossing Farmgate, Hotel Ruposhi Bangla, and the High Court. About 150 young cyclists, both male and female, participated in the rally.
Representatives of BRAC, YFPAD and cyclists expressed their opinions regarding gender issues on the occasion. They emphasised on involving youth to ensure safety and security of women and children among other things. “I intended to remove all the social barriers and to inspire other girls”, said a female cyclist about her cycle riding experiences in the city. A young man, about women rights, said, “We have a tendency to show sympathy to women, but this is not an issue of sympathy, this is their right”. “A cycle has two wheels and both are equal; if not equal, a cycle cannot run. Same thing can be told about society, it cannot run well if women and men are not equal”, said another male cyclist. At the end, certificates were distributed among all the cyclists who participated in the rally. Somoy Television was the media partner of this special event.
Every year BRAC organises different innovative events throughout the month of March to celebrate International Women’s Day such as this cycle rally.
For media coverage, please find the following link:
07 March 2013, Dhaka. Agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury on Thursday called on the scientists and manufacturers to produce farm equipments that are useful for Bangladesh’s small and medium scale farmers.
Addressing a workshop on the use of industrial machineries in crop production and processing in Bangladesh, held at BRAC’s head office on 7 March 2013, the Honorable Minister said machineries for managing large farms are unlikely to find market in Bangladesh, because the overwhelming majority of farmers are operating at small or medium scale. “You cannot compel farmers to use any machinery unless they find it truly useful,” she said.
BRAC and the Planning Commission of Bangladesh jointly organised this workshop as part of a two-day event titled ‘Asian Regional Workshop on Rural mechanisation’. The inauguration session was chaired by the governor of Bangladesh Bank, Dr Atiur Rahman, with the agriculture minister attending as the special guest.
In his chair’s address, Dr Atiur Rahman said that in the last four years the country’s foreign reserve increased from USD 6 billion to USD 14 billion. “The credit must go to the farmer community. It is because of their hard work that the production increased, and we did not have to import rice.”
Dr MA Sattar Mandal, member of the Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Institution Division of the Planning Commission, presented a keynote paper titled ‘Rural Mechanisation: Status and Issues in Bangladesh’ at the inauguration. He chaired other sessions of the workshop along with Dr Shamsul Alam, member of GED of Planning Division and Dr Rafiqul Islam, director-general of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute. Professor Scott Justice of CIMMYT, Akhter Ahmed of IFRI, as well as BRAC’s executive director Mahbub Hossain and its research division’s director WMH Jaim also spoke at the workshop.
07 March 2013, Dhaka. Celebrating one year of operation in Philippines, BRAC is making progress towards reaching its goal of bringing the light of education in the troubled region of Muslim Mindanao. A year ago at the launching programme, BRAC’s founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “What BRAC brings to the Philippines is not just an education delivery system but a vision of a just and fair society which is based on educating our children. It’s through this partnership of vision and action that can take the people forward. With the support of the Philippines Government and development partners, we are hopeful to make great progress with this challenging task at hand."
Public education in the ARMM faces a shortage of teachers. The drop-out rates for basic education are high, while the completion rate is low. These problems are particularly acute in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao, where there are as many school-age children and youth who have dropped out of school as those who are still in school.
BRAC’s schools in ARMM are delivering education using a curriculum and instructional materials which were developed based on the Philippine’s standard proficiencies for pre- primary and elementary education, enhanced in the local cultural context. Complementing the work of the Department of Education in ARMM, BRAC is implementing its successful alternative schooling model which spread from Bangladesh to six other countries.
Inspired by the critical pedagogy of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, BRAC schools offer a second chance to children to think for themselves at the primary and pre-primary level rather than relying on outdated systems of rote memorization. The schools are run with the active support and advice of the communities they serve, with schoolteachers chosen from among local women. With 1.1 million students enrolled as of 2012, BRAC is the world’s largest private, secular education provider.
21 February 2013, Dhaka. BRAC is launching its very own Bengali website – www.brac.net.bd on the 21st February, 2013. BRAC Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed opened the website at the launching ceremony held at BRAC Centre.
Prominent media personality Shykh Seraj, BRAC’s Vice -Chairperson AMR Chowdhury, Sr Directors Babar Kabir and Asif Saleh were present at the event. The website is designed to create better access to information for a wider range of clients, partners, journalists and researchers in Bengali.
On explaining the purpose of the website the Chairperson said, “Our accountability is to the people of our country and this Bengali website will expand its reach to a wider range.”
The launching day of the website coincides with International Mother Language Day to commemorate the martyrs who fought for the right to speak in Bengali in 1952. To promote greater transparency and accountability for the people of the country, BRAC initiated the Bengali website to capture the spirit and essence of the International Mother Language Day.
The website provides in depth information about BRAC’s programmes in the areas of social and economic empowerment, education, health care, human rights, agriculture and food security, as well as environment sustainability and disaster preparedness among others, in Bangladesh and 10 other countries where BRAC operates.
The new Bengali website will operate simultaneously with the English website www.brac.net .
14 February 2013, Dhaka. Across Bangladesh, more than 2millionpeople pledged to raise their voice in protest of violence against women, forming a human chain today from 1:00-1:30pm, in solidarity with 'One Billion Rising' in 200 countries.
In the Gulshan, Mohakhali and Tejgaon area of Dhaka, over 3,000 people primarily consisting of staff from BRAC head office, BRAC University, BRAC Bank and Aarong participated in the human chain. The chain was formed from Mohakhali Jolkhabar Mor up to ShahidTajuddin Ahmed Sharani in Tejgaon. BRAC senior management, including Managing Director M A (Rumee) Ali, Group CFO SN Kairy, Senior Directors Asif Saleh and Babar Kabir, and other BRAC directors joined the chain. People from neighbouring organisations also participated.
Similar chains were formed at BRAC's 460 branch offices in54 districts, where 1.5 million students and parents protested at 17,000 BRAC school premises, while 13,000 school girls and parents from BRAC’s MEJNIN programme also participated. Additionally, more than 450,000 Polli Shomaj members under BRAC’s community empowerment programme also stood hand-in-handintheir respective areas. Hundreds of tea labourers at BRAC tea estates in Chittagong have also joined hands, standing up against violence on women. BRAC Director Dr. Faustina Pereira coordinated the countrywide participation of all BRAC members.
The One Billion Rising initiative is a globally acclaimed campaign, encouraging men and women to pledge against all forms of violence on women. Till now, 200 countries have participated in this campaign, Bangladesh being one of them. In today’s human chain, people from all strata of the society have expressed their solidarity in taking necessary actions against this social evil.
View the report of celebration on map: www.brac.net/obr
11 February 2013, Dhaka. One in three women around the world will be beaten, raped, killed, or face some form of abuse in her lifetime. In a move to stop violence against women, the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign was initiated to raise awareness amongst millions of people worldwide on this issue. The OBR movement aims to bring women and men across the world, urging them to take a stance to stop violence against women. To date, 190 countries have been brought under this movement, including Bangladesh. On 14th February, men and women of all strata will join the OBR movement and unite under the cause of ensuring immediate measures are taken to prevent violence against women, and protect the survivors of these vicious acts.
Widely recognised as one of the best and most effective development organisations in the world, BRAC’s priorities are dedicated to empowering women from all spheres of the society, particularly the rural communities. BRAC is coordinating various activities throughout Bangladesh, actively engaging in spreading awareness through of this global movement. To ensure the success of the OBR campaign, a committee was formed comprising of several development and human rights organisations, of which BRAC is a proud member.
Keeping in line with this objective, multiple programmes have been planned throughout the country. The following events will take place at BRAC’s head office on 14 February 2013:
1. A human chain will be formed, covering both sides of the street in front of BRAC head office from 1-1.30pm.
2. All BRAC employees will be wearing the common badge and take oath together.
3. BRAC University students and other organisations around the area have been invited to join the movement, and awareness raising leaflets have been prepared for distribution.
06 February 2013, Dhaka. Larry Simon, Professor of International Development, and Director of Graduate Programmes in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and long-term friend of BRAC, delivered a fascinating and challenging talk on 5thFebruary in BRAC Centre on ‘Paulo Freire and Subaltern Consciousness’. Over 150 BRAC staff and BRAC University academics attended the talk, engaging in a very lively discussion.
Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher, best known for his influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) which Larry Simon demystified for the audience; explaining how the oppressed cannot be served by treating them as unfortunates, and by presenting them with models of development from among the oppressors. As Freire said, “The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption”. Freire’s ideas on ‘conscientisation’ have played an important part in influencing the development of BRAC. As BRAC’s founder and chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has said, “People are poor because they are powerless. We must organise people for power. They must organise themselves so that they may change their lives”.
The talk was chaired by BRAC’s vice-chairperson, Mushtaque Chowdhury, who explained the pronounced influence of Paulo Freire on BRAC’s work in its early years. There were many stimulating contributions, including one from Syed M. Hashemi, Director of BRAC Development Institute, BRAC University, who drew a parallel between the influence of Liberation Theology on Paulo Freire and the way in which Maulana Bashani addressed the liberation of the oppressed in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
BRAC’s executive director Dr Mahabub Hossain concluded the enlightening discussion and thanked Larry Simon for his elucidation. He fully recognised the importance and influence of Paulo Freire’s ideas on BRAC and others, in support of the poor and oppressed in Bangladesh and elsewhere. He appreciated the effort and enthusiasm of all those who attended the talk and encouraged all to create further opportunities to study and discuss Paulo Freire’s texts and their application to their own work. It is not only the poor who need opportunities for ‘conscientisation’ but every individual.
31 January 2013, Dhaka. BRAC family is deeply shocked and mourns at the sudden demise of a young professional Dr. Sajia Afrin Eva (27), who was brutally killed on Friday November 30, 2012 while performing night shift duty at Dokhinkhan BRAC Clinic in Dhaka. Dr. Sajia started working with BRAC Clinic as a temporary shift duty doctor from November 01, 2012. She had graduated from Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College in 2008 and was undergoing postgraduate training at Shaheed Sarawardi Medical College Hospital. Although she was only with us for a short period of time, her efforts and dedication were much appreciated.
On 29 November 2012 Dr. Sajia came to Dokhinkhan BRAC Clinic at around 8.00 pm to carry out night shift duty. She provided medical care to admitted patients and then went to doctor’s duty room at around 10.00 pm. On the next morning (30 November, 2012) at around 6.45 am, duty nurse found Dr. Sajia lying down on the floor in doctor’s duty room. The clinic management immediately informed the tragic incident to the police, higher authority of BRAC and to Dr. Sajia’s family.
As soon BRAC Management heard of this great tragedy, the organization decided to provide all support to her family including logistical, financial, legal and emotional support to help deal with this immense loss. Upon learning of the murder BRAC Clinic Management and BRAC Security Department provided extended support and worked with the police department to quickly identify and capture the culprit. BRAC Management also asked all BRAC staff present at the clinic during the incident to provide all kinds of support in the investigation of the murder case by extending all co-operation to the Investigation Officers. On that very day (30 November, 2012), with support from BRAC Administration and Security Department, Dr. Sajia’s father Mr. Manirul Islam filed a case at Dokhinkhan Police Station against four persons including guard/ward boy Faisal (27) as the key suspect. The key suspect Faisal was arrested the next day December 01, 2012 from his village home and within short time he confessed the killing to the police, media, and then to the court.
Dr. Sajia was buried at her home village on December 01, 2012. The ritual was attended by BRAC’s local district representative and managers along with twelve other regular staff. BRAC arranged transportation for carrying the dead body and covered the burial expenses. Within days (on December 5, 2012) BRAC organized a Doa and Milad Mohfil at BRAC Head Office which was attended by BRAC senior management, including Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and representatives of the Bangladesh Medical Association, and family members to honor Dr. Sajia’s memory and the eternal peace of her departed soul.
BRAC takes this tragedy very seriously and will continue to do everything possible to ensure security and safety of all BRAC staff in workplace, in particular females. In order to bring the real criminals under the law ensuring justice to the deceased, BRAC is working together with Dr. Sajia’s family with keeping regular communication with professional bodies like Bangladesh Medical Association. Since mostly female patients are admitted in BRAC clinics and most of the clinic staffs are female, it is a regular practice that male visitors are not allowed to stay or enter inside the clinic after 10.00 pm. After 10.00 pm only clinic staff are allowed to stay inside in their respective duty stations. However, following the tragic incident, further security measures have been introduced for all BRAC Clinics.
Apart from this, BRAC Gender Justice and Diversity Programme (GJDP) organized multiple rallies, seminars, human chains in protesting recent women harassment incidents and violence across the country. The GJDP recently organized a seminar entitled “Violence against Women Rape-Gang Rape: things to do and strategies of prevention” on January 22, 2013 at BRAC Center which was participated by different NGOs, Civil Society Groups, and government representatives.
Although there is no way to make up for the loss to Dr. Sajia’s family, out of consideration for the fact that Dr. Sajia had just begun her livelihood as a doctor, BRAC wanted to provide a humanitarian grant of assistance. BRAC has offered Dr Saji’s family a humanitarian grant of Ten Lac taka and an offer of employment at the BRAC Head Office at a monthly salary of 20,000 taka for her younger sister, Ms. Nadia Afrin, who has just completed her BBA.