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Bangladesh’s millions of women entrepreneurs are currently underserved by the country’s financial services sector. Better and easier access to finance would help their enterprises, boost the banks’ business, and further the socio-economy development of the country more widely. This message was the focus of an event held in Dhaka to mark International Women’s Day 2022 by the UN Development Programme, UN Women and the UN Capital Development Fund, along with top executives from several financial institutions.
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Farah Kabir is the Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh. Over close to three decades of vast experience in the field of development and research has made her renowned human rights figure and a CSO leader at home and abroad with an uncompromising voice against human-rights violation. She is a member of Advisory committee of Bangladesh’s NDA to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a member of such Child Rights Committee National Human Rights Commission, Board member of UCEP. She is a member of the Global Board of the Global Network of Disaster Risk Reduction (GNDR), Board Member of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) since 2019. steering committee member of ACIAR-Rupantar program of Australian Government, advisory committee member of Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE).
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Keya Khan is Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Government of Bangladesh. She was interviewed in her office in Dhaka by Shararat Islam of UN Women. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. How can we ensure gender equality and empowerment of women in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies, and programmes?
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Tarikul Islam is a Commanding Officer and Superintendent of Police at Bangladesh Police’s Armed Police Battalion in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Since 2019, UN Women has supported the Bangladesh Police to strengthen gender-responsive policing in Cox’s Bazar and improve the availability, accessibility and quality of services in alignment with the United Nations "essential services package” for women and girls subject to violence.
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Cultural practices like child marriage and polygamy were highlighted as threats to the safety of women and girls in Rohingya refugee camps as the refugees and humanitarian aid workers participated in the United Nations 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.
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Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh is home to over 880,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violence and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Most Rohingya women and girls in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps are either survivors of, or witnesses to, gender-based violence. “In the Rohingya camp, community members have come from another country after experiencing tragedy and atrocities, so our behaviour towards them must be humanistic and tolerant,” says Atiqur Rahman, Commanding Officer of Bangladesh Armed Police Battalion 14, one of two battalions that serves Cox’s Bazar refugee camp.
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[Press release] SALAM was launched by the Governance of Labour Migration in South and South-East Asia (GOALS), a regional programme jointly implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UN Women, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The hub seeks to be a one-stop platform serving policy makers, civil society actors, social partners and other stakeholders with knowledge, information, networks, and policy solutions leading to positive changes in labour migration policies and practices.
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“Since I was a child, I loved the idea of driving, but I didn’t dare to dream about it,” says Romela Islam*. “I got married after I finished high school. My husband was a cruel man and tortured me. When I was pregnant, he punched me so hard I ended up losing my baby. On most nights, I cried myself to sleep. I wanted to end my life.”Romela Islam escaped her abusive marriage when her brother took her to Tarango (meaning, waves), a women’s shelter in Bangladesh in December 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping the country and violence against women and girls was on the rise.
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UN Women is supporting Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner officials, Camp-in-Charges, police and legal aid providers through training on gender-responsive humanitarian action, women's empowerment, and violence against women. UN Women also has six “gender field officers” who cover 13 camps and support the Camp-in-Charges. Many cases of adolescent girl molestation and eve-teasing have come to my attention. These are delicate cases that are difficult to handle, but I do my best to ensure that justice is served. Through the Department of Social Services and the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the Bangladesh Government is also assisting survivors of gender-based violence.
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Jesmin Aktar lives in a village of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She regularly attends UN Women's "Shanti Khana" [Multi-Purpose Women's Centre – MPWC] learning sessions and is dedicated to improving her life by pursuing a challenging job and contributing to society.
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I was forcefully married off at the age of 16 to a man who only knew violence. The miserable household held my parent-in-laws, brother and sister-in-law, and my unemployed husband. Within three months of my marriage, I realized that my husband had no affinity to get himself a job, and that is when the abuse began. It was always for dowry, to fund his failed ventures one after the other while the rest of the household fell deeper into the grasp of poverty.
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At the Tarango’s women’s shelter, Nazlee Nipa provides a supportive and safe environment for women and girls subject to violence. Photo: UN Women/Fahad Kaizer One day, a girl knocked on our door. She wanted to leave her husband, who was emotionally abusing her. She had already asked for help from her mother, but her mother told her that emotional violence is not a crime. With no documents, she left her house and came to us. I accompanied her to the police station to lodge a...
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Dear Nazlee-apa, You are my inspiration. You taught me that there is another way of living this life. A whole lot better, a new life of mine. When you saw me walking into Tarango’s shelter for the first time, I carried nothing but a broken heart. I was lost, I was hurt, and I was terrified. But where else could I have gone to? It frustrates me even now. How could my husband have stayed silent when his father was insulting me for dowry?
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Dear son, Just like you, ma had a dream when she was a little girl. I wanted to go to school and become an educated woman. But I fell in love too young and dived into a relationship too soon. By the time I realized that I had made a big mistake, it was too late. Marriage meant the end of my school, and the love I found came with many struggles. Baba [your father] was not very good at finding work. Sometimes he found work and worked for a day.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, poverty, fear and insecurity have increased around the world. They triggered an alarming escalation of violence against women and girls, particularly an increase in domestic violence, rape and child marriage. Bangladesh is no exception. Many informal jobs have vanished, affecting 90 percent of Bangladeshi women working in the informal sector.
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Dear Kohinoor-apa, Do you know how much my life has changed? I am unrecognizable, even to me! Ever since I was a child, I always lived in fear. When my father married me off, I was still underage. A local leader endorsed the marriage, modifying my age on the official document. Police came, but influential people in the village bribed them and sent them away. My husband was abusive, torturing me for dowry.
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Prevention of violence against women and girls often takes a back seat to other efforts to address violence. But with the rollout of the RESPECT framework in India, Bangladesh and Nepal more leaders are embracing the idea that prevention is possible and are focusing future work on prevention programming.
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I'm standing up and speaking out for our right to decide about our body, life and future. Being vocal about these rights means fighting for myself, for my loved ones, friends and family, for strangers across the globe in a world that was not built for us. Speaking up is my way of channeling my rage at our current world, and the process of rebuilding a new one.
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Women talking about their rights is frowned upon by their families and society at large. I wanted to use my privilege to highlight the struggles that women face in accessing basic rights including bodily rights and sexual and reproductive health. I’m doing that by creating spaces that empower other young people, including women and people with diverse gender identities, to be aware of their rights and to demand that they are respected.
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Thirty Bangladeshi journalists have learned from UN Women and Deutsche Welle Akademie trainers how to write about women in more sensitive and empowering ways. The 22-24 June workshop encouraged a “gender-responsive journalism” in which, for example, journalists writing stories about crimes against women protect the woman’s privacy and focus on solutions instead of just preventing her as a “victim”.