MJF Newsletter-April 2021

During April 2021, Manusher Jonno (MJF) accelerated its online advocacy efforts for effective measures by the government and relevant agencies to stop violence against women and children and to improve the situation during Covid-19. Besides, the organisation tried to continue regular project activities with the beneficiaries.

This e-newsletter highlights some of the activities undertaken during April2021.

Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 needs amendment to include small scale fishermen

MJFand The ‘Daily Star’ organised an online discussion session titled, ‘Sector-wide Impact Assessment on Coastal Small Fishers’ on April 7, 2021. MJF has collaborated with COAST Trust and Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) to undertake an action research project on sustainable oceans with a financial support from the Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR). This research has been carried out in Chile and in Bangladesh. The main objective of the study was to document human rights implications and impacts pertaining to fisheries and aquaculture and to address these in selected national and global dialogues, policies and strategies for sustainable development and responsible business.

The study found that in Bangladesh 80% of the fishermen feel that they have insufficient life-saving equipment on board and half of the fishermen said they have no warning system that reaches them at sea. Ninety sever percent fishermen reported that harbor facilities are not safe. About one third of the fishermen said that they are underpaid. Almost all reported fishing as their main source of income which does not generate enough money to cover their families’ basic expenses.More than two-third or female respondents reported that they have experienced financial crisis and harassment when male family members went to sea.

Through this roundtable MJF wanted to create a dialogue so that initiative can be undertaken and tools can be applied for mitigating and monitoring human rights impacts in the fisheries and aquaculture in Bangladsh-thus ensuring sustainable development and responsible business in the marine capture fisheries sector. It was come out from the discussion that, Bangladesh need to clearly define the rights and responsibilities of fishers, including small-scale fishers in relevant national labour legislation. Also the government need to amend the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 to include provisions on fishers employed in the small-scare coastal fisheries sector and adopt regulatory instruments on Occupational Health and Safety that address the particular situation and needs of small-scale fishers or amend existing instruments to adequately address their needs.

Unpaid care work situation during COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh

COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on people and countries across the world. Not only does it take lives and affect livelihoods, economies and societies– it also poses serious threats to the day to day life and family relations as well.  And it is hampering the human rights in many aspects. Bangladesh is also not out of this situation.

The COVID-19 outbreak has exacerbated the gendered impacts of the crisis by increasing women’s economic and social insecurity, unpaid care work, and domestic violence while cutting women off from social and institutional support. Five organisation’s Forum, ‘Formal Recognition of the Woman’s uncounted Work’ organised an assessment on ‘Unpaid care work situation in Covid-19 pandemic situation in Bangladesh’. A webinar organised on April 24, 2021 to share the findings of the study with broader audience. The Forum members are Action Aid Bangladesh, Bangladesh NareeProgatiSangstha, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Oxfam-Bangladesh and Manusher Jonno Foundation.

The study took place both in rural and unban areas among 443 persons. Among them 83 percent were females, 13 percent males and 1 percent third gender.The study was convened in November –December 2020.The survey report was prepared by SharmindNeelormi, Associate Professor at the Department of Economics in Jahangirnagar University. A Purposive selection of the location, age, sex, profession, income level of the respondents were done to minimize any biases. However, the number of female respondents were being overrepresented considering the context of the study. 47 percent of the female respondents were housewife. 48 Percent of the respondents reported at least one member in the family has lost job.   More than 73 percent in unban and 93 percent in rural HHs reported facing financial crisis during pandemic. About 78 percent female headed HHs faced severe financial crisis. The volume of unpaid household domestic work load of females has increased tremendously- in urban areas it is 128 percent. 85 percent women who work for pay outside home, had spent more than 4 hours a day for household works.

The webinar chaired by Shaheen Anam, ED, MJF, while Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Member of Parliament&Member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Planning,was present as Chief Guest. Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative, UN Women was present as Special Guest.

MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said non-recognition of women’s unpaid work was devaluing their contributions and resulting in discrimination and violence against them.  Shoko Ishikawa, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh, said: “The pandemic unfortunately has seen an increase in unpaid care work. Now we have to find out how to give social protection for women, carry out cash distribution activities and look after disabled people. As women’s workload increases, so does the risk of domestic violence and child marriage coupled with economic hardship.” Chief Guest Saber Hossain Chowdhury stated that women engaged in informal sectors had to be specifically included in COVID -19 stimulus packages and budgetary allocations. Women needed to be recognised for their unpaid care work, he added.

Sexual harassments in educational institutes has increased during COVID-19 pandemic

Various kinds of sexual harassment, physical torture and rape have been rising alarmingly in educational institutions, especially in the Qawmi madrasas, due to lack of supervision in Bangladsh.Amid the pandemic, from January to March this year, at least 20 students were raped and sexually harassed in madrasas, colleges and technical institutes. Another 21 children were physically tortured during the same period in madrasas and safe homes. MJF shared these information through a webinar on 15 April 2021 with a greater audience and respective government officials. These information were collected from daily newspapers.

Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs Mr. Muhammad A AwalHowlader, Controller of Publications of Madrasah Education Board Professor Riad Choudhury, Dhaka University Law Department teacher Professor Shahnaz Huda and Breaking the Silence Executive Director Ms. Roksana Sultana were among others who participated in the event.MJF Executive Director Ms. Shaheen Anam hosted the webinar and Programme Coordinator Ms. Arpita Das presented the report. Shaheen Anam stated, “The issue of sexual harassment in educational institutions should be brought under the culture of accountability. It is a matter of great concern for parents who send their children to educational institutions.”Mr.Awal stressed the need for initiating field-level campaigns to create social awareness to stop this menace.

MJF’s MotherSchools Project organisedVirtual Training

MotherSchools, a project of MJF, funded by Women Without Borders (WwB), Austriaorganised a virtual Training of Trainers (ToT)globally on 16 and 17 April 2021.  About 100 participants from India, Kosovo, Indonesia, Zanzibar and Bangladesh participated in the training.Out of them 28 participants were from Bangladesh.  This was the first time WwB conducted a training online and

Participants of Bangladesh in dry run for the TOT workshop

the training followed an interactive learning sharing process to engage all the participants from distance effectively. Not only the participants from Bangladesh, but also the other participants admitted this workshop was an opportunity to know about the goal and objectives of the project properly. It was also an opportunity for them to get a brief orientation about project activities as well as their responsibilities. The most important achievements for the participants from the training were to come up with a common understanding which is- ‘There is no border of parenting for peace’. In every country, parenting for peace education is needed to lead children with proper physical andpsychological development which is the aim of this project.Women’s Voice and Leadership- Bangladesh (WVLB) Projects accomplishments

In April 2021, WVLB project of MJF initiated an in-depth and rigorous process to review the Women’s Organisations(WROs’)programme, with the purpose ofreviewing the current programme through gender equality lens and identify gaps for improvements. Through this process MJF tried to find the next actions in aligning with WVL-GAC priority for better results, identify women needs &priority and to take necessary actions for proposal and budget revision.

The project organised nine (09) virtual workshops with 9 WROs out of 17 WROs for 2 days eachwhere WROs’ staff, beneficiaries and key stakeholders (government officials, people’s representatives, and serviceprovider departments)participated to share their learning.It was come out in the workshops that the entire process used different tools that was a learning process to understand gender equality aspect in operational level and process helped to create sense of ownership for beneficiary and staff at all level. In addition, these workshops were an opportunity for well alignment of logical direction of WROs’ programme with GAC’s result framework.


More information on MJF’s activities including pictures and videos relating to COVID-19 are available on our WebsiteTwitterInstagram and Facebook

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