Bangladesh inaugurates its first local chapter on gender in humanitarian action
Kurigram, Bangladesh – On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day (19 August), government officials, local women leaders, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), local volunteers of the Flood Preparedness Programme, and others gathered for the inaugural meeting of the first Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA) Local Chapter, in the town of Kurigram.
The chapters will be local platforms to amplify women´s voices and leadership in humanitarian response and recovery and to enhance the capacity and engagement of participating local women’s organizations, so that the specific needs of women, girls, people with disabilities and gender-diverse groups are met through humanitarian response and recovery planning and action.
The meeting, which was jointly organized by the Department of Women Affairs (DWA) and UN Women Bangladesh at the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Kurigram, constitutes the inauguration of the country’s first Local GIHA Chapter.
Kurigram is one most of the under-privileged districts of Bangladesh and at the same time one of most vulnerable to flood, riverbank erosion, as well as other natural hazards.
“Women are often left behind in Kurigram so the creation of this working group will contribute to advance gender equality in the region,” said Mohammad Saidul Arif, Deputy Commissioner of Kurigram, who chaired the meeting.
The creation of this local chapter in the district was praised by participants, in particular by Kurigram’s women-led CSOs, several of which said that they will now have more opportunities to be heard and have their voices taken into account in humanitarian action at both a local and a national level.
During this inaugural meeting, participants learned about the existing Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) of Bangladesh and the National GIHA Chapter’s role therein. That presentation was followed by a discussion of the structure and mode of operation of Local GiHA chapters. It was decided that Kurigram’s local chapter will be co-chaired by a local DWA official and by the local women-led CSO Association for Alternative Development (AFAD). UN Women Bangladesh will provide technical support to the local chapters, which shall meet every two months or as frequently as necessary in times of disaster.
These local chapters will be extensions of the National GiHA Working Troup chaired by DWA and co-chaired by UN Women Bangladesh, the key objective of which is to support the realization of gender-responsive humanitarian action in Bangladesh.
Farida Pervin, Director General of DWA and Chair of the National GiHA Working Group said: “I was a magistrate at the local level, so I know how the administration carries out humanitarian response. Local GiHA Chapters would work to help the local administration take into consideration critical gender issues [in disaster response].”
The meeting was followed by an orientation session for local Kurigram-based CSOs led by UN Women Bangladesh on 21 August 2023 on the role of Local GiHA chapters and the way local organizations can actively take part and support their adequate functioning.
Thanks to the support of the Government of Sweden, three additional Local GiHA chapters will be inaugurated in the most disaster-prone areas of the country in the coming months, to support the realization of gender-responsive humanitarian action in Bangladesh.