Securing Livelihoods for Extremely Poor Families

Bangladeshi woman receiving money from man.GIZ supports our partner organisation MATI in the implementation of a savings and interest-free loans program for business start-ups and the provision of a multitude of services (access to nutrition, commodities, health services and training) to secure the livelihoods of extreme poor families. The program is aimed primarily at women, who are assisted in the preparation of a business plan as well as receive credit and other support services in case of illness or natural disaster. This strengthens their economic position and their negotiating power within the family. With the help of focused training and awareness-raising measures on women’s rights or family planning, women are enabled to demand their rights.

Promoting Legal and Social Equality of Women

map_2_0_1.jpgThe Bangladesh Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MWCA) and GIZ have joined forces to actively address the legal obstacles that women face at the local level in Bangladesh. The project offers gender training to Alternative Dispute Resolution Committees, which, with the help of local NGOs, build on the tradition of village shalish. Members of the local government are being trained to implement arbitration processes in accordance with the laws. In cooperation with other development partners, the project supports MWCA to evaluate the need for amendments to existing and for new legislation to promote gender equality. The prevention of gender-related crimes through "community-based policing” is another work focus.

Improving access to justice for women

Bangladesh has moved steadily forward to legally guarantee equal rights for women and to protect women from discrimination and violence. It is also party to a series of international conventions to promote gender equality and reduce violence against women. In practice, however, it has proven very difficult to implement these commitments. In order to enable women in Bangladesh to increasingly access their rights through the formal and informal justice systems, the Bangladesh Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MWCA) and GIZ, on behalf of the German government (with funding from German, Danish, Spanish, UK and Netherlands Government), joined forces to implement the project Promotion of Legal and Social Empowerment of Women.

The initiative had three main components: Improving women’s access to local justice, to avoid their re-victimization while having to negotiate at police stations and courts; building a consultation process for a much needed domestic violence bill focused on the victim and mobilizing communities and local police to take responsibility in identifying early warning signs, so potential crimes against women are prevented. Community’s trust and perception of the police changed positively– especially among women – consequently increasing the number of reported cases in 20%. Women are now active members of the Shalish (traditional semi judicial village committees) and are heard as victims and witnesses to crimes.

Women working together for better access to justice.As part of the awareness raising and consultation process on violence against women, a media campaign was designed. The campaign, which won numerous awards in Asia, focuses on positive role models that inspire people to become agents of change themselves, building on the idea that change is already happening. All Public Service Announcements have been shot with real people from Bangladesh recounting their stories of prevention of violence against women in which they have been involved.

As a result of the project, the Department of Women Affairs’ staff has better knowledge about women’s rights, reflected in the improved quality of services in the intervention areas. In this context, the Domestic Violence Act was passed in October 2010, as well as the National Women’s Development Policy, which was passed in 2011, both providing an enhanced legal framework to consolidate women’s rights.
This project was one of the top ten award winning teams of the 2012 GIZ Gender Competition.

Reforming Prisons to Promote the Rights of Women and Children

Prisons in Bangladesh often accommodate 250-300 per cent more inhabitants than designated. About 75 per cent of the inhabitants are on remand due to weaknesses of the legal system. Women and children, especially in the youth penal system, are disproportionately affected. Safe custody - the protection of victims and witnesses – mostly applies to women who are or would be subject to forced marriage, rape, domestic violence, trafficking or forced prostitution. The women and children involved are often treated like criminals and placed in prisons. GIZ supports the access of men and women to the informal and formal legal system through legal education and capacity development with local institutions, civil society organizations and informal structures. We assist the Women’s Ministry in the development of policies and strategies.

For further information about any of the projects mentioned here, please write to us at gender@giz.de.