Equality through Dignity-মর্যাদায় গড়ি সমতা — Campaign launched to showcase women’s contribution
Manusher Jonno Foundation and partners launched a campaign ‘Equality through Dignity-মর্যাদায় গড়ি সমতা’ on March 5, 2014. The Honorable President. Md. Abdul Hamid himself launched in presence of Minister for Culture Asaduzzaman Noor and Meher Afroze Chumki, Minister of Women and Children
The campaign aims to change society’s current negative perception of women by highlighting their contribution to the family, community and state. It is believed the campaign will be able to change attitude towards women and raise their status which will result in reducing discrimination and violence against them.
Goal: To change mind set and attitude of society towards women and enhance their status in private and public domain hence reducing discrimination and violence against them.
- Build knowledge and in-depth analysis among stakeholder regarding the women’s contribution to the economy through both, paid and unpaid work.
- Creating mass awareness about the contribution of women to the family, society and state.
- Sensitizing policy makers and planners that the under valuation of women’s contribution to the society is a hindrance to meeting development goals and impacting negatively on the GDP.
- Sensitizing the media, print and electronic, advertising companies, private sector etc to portray women in a positive way and reject the stereo typing of women.
Create empirical evidence on women’s economic contribution through research and study.
Inaugurating the campaign website www.womensdignity.org.bd and declaring it open at the Osmani Memorial Hall, President Abdul Hamid said, “Time has come to change our perception of women’s work and their contributions. Otherwise, we cannot prevent discrimination and violence against them”.
Meher Afroze, State Minister for Women and Children’s affairs, said her ministry would disseminate the campaign message through its departments and offices in all upazilas and districts. “Our biggest challenge is to resist the forces which tried to create a barrier to enacting the Women’s Policy, 2011, by giving wrong interpretations of religion,” she noted.
“Society looks down on women in this country and considers them a burden,” said Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF). She detailed the reasons behind the violence against women despite their achievements in the social, cultural, political and economic sectors.
MJF along with its 122 associated organizations and the Women and Children’s affairs ministry will run the three-year campaign, with support from DFID and DFAT. A study on “ Estimating women’s economic contribution is being conducted by the Centre for Policy Research (CPD). Maatra is the communications partner of MJF in this campaign.
The campaign will be inclusive and will try to include all other organizations and campaigns on women’s rights. It is hoped that a huge demand will be raised to respect women and achieve equality of women.
Law and policy passed
Right to Information Act (RTI): MJF initiated to formulate the draft law on RTI in 2007. A small committee was formed with legal and development expert and drafted the law. There were several consultations organized with relevant stakeholders NGOs, and other civil society organizations, media, representative of political parties at different level to improve the draft law. MJF led the process to advocate for enactment of the law with politicians, parliamentarians. First is was passed as an Ordinance in 2008 and was passed as a law in parliament in 2009.
Domestic violence protection and prevention act2010: MJF provided financial and technical support to Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association (BNWLA) to raise public opinion about the law. Total 38 Human rights and women rights organizations formed a coalition called Citizen Initiatives on Domestic Violence Act (CIDV) for drafting the law, advocating and lobbying with Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWCA) for passing the law. MJF was one of the active members of CIDV and contributed in the process and provided day to day support to BNWLA and to the coalition.
Rules on Domestic violence protection and prevention act 2010: CIDV has written a draft rules which was passed by MOWCA through their process. MJF was actively involved in drafting the rules as member of CIDV.
Labour Policy 2012, Labor law 2006 and amendment 2013: MJF has been involved in drafting and advocating the policy and law jointly with representative from Trade Union, Bangladesh Institution of Labour Studies (BILS), representative from BGMEA, Bangladesh Employers Federation and Ministry of Labour and Employment. There were several consultations organised by BILS and MJF with relevant stakeholders before drafting the laws and policies. MJF provided lot of assistance to Ministry of Labour and Employment. For the first time issues of agriculture workers has been incorporated in the labour law.
Minimum Wage 2013 for Ready Made Garment, Shrimp Processing and Rice Processing (Chatal): MJF supported BILS to conduct research on standard of minimum wage in each sector, capacitate Trade Union representative to bring the issues in the government formed Wage Board.
Migrant Workers law 2013: MJF was part of the committee formed by Overseas Employment and Expatriate Ministry on drafting the law, participated different consultations organized by government and ILO and contributed to the process.
Incorporation of disability rights in the manifesto of major political parties: MJF supported Action in Disability and Development (ADD) to consult with organizations of persons with disability and collect their views and recommendation from the local level. National Forum of Organisations Working with Person with Disability (NFOWD) is MJF’s partner advocated policy makers and incorporated disability issues in the manifesto. MJF also actively taken part of the processes of advocacy with ADD and NFOWD
Persons with Disabilities Rights & Protection Act 2013: In partnership with NFOWD and ADD MJF initiated advocacy work both at local and national level. 500 DPO’s (organisations of person with disability) was formed by ADD at the grassroots level involved more than 15,000 disabled people from different parts of Bangladesh. These DPOs produced practical evidences for drafting laws for disabled people.
NFOWD organised consultations with different stakeholders such as teacher, NGOs and other civil society organisations and media, drafted the law and submitted to Ministry of Social Welfare ministry.
At the national level NFOWD also organise consultation with Social Welfare and Law Ministries along with Parliamentarian’s Caucus on Disability and dialogues for generating consensus among the policymakers in favour of new disabled people’s law. Eventually this year on 3rd Oct 2013 a new law for the disabled people was adopted in the parliament. MJF has been involved in whole process.
National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010: Through a long consultative process MJF and a number of child rights organization assist government to formulate National Child Labour Elimination Policy in 2010. That policy targets to remove hazardous child labour from Bangladesh by 2015. MJF facilitated the nationwide consultations to collate the views of different stakeholders regarding their need and policy recommendations. Moreover, MJF closely worked in drafting process and national level sharing initiatives taken by government.
Ongoing advocacy issues
Code of conduct for domestic workers: MJF has been supporting BILS to formulate code of conduct and Welfare policy. BILS has formed a Domestic Workers Rights Network (DWRN) with human rights organizations working with domestic worker and trade union. DWRN drafted a code of conduct and Welfare Policy and submitted to the government. But consultations with different stakeholder are still going on. MJF is playing an active role in the drafting the code of conduct.
Labor Rule 2013: MJF has involved in drafting the Labour rules jointly with Representative from Trade Union, Bangladesh Institution of Labour Studies (BILS), Representative from BGMEA, Bangladesh Employers Federation and Ministry of Labour and Employment. There were several consultations organised by Ministry of Labour, BILS and MJF with relevant stakeholders in the process of drafting the Labour Rules.
Implementation of labour law 2006 and the amendment 2013: MJF’s partners Awaj Foundation, Mamata, BILS, Shbujer Ovijan and SAFE are raising awareness of the workers on legal rights and duties, organizing the the workers, building their capacity for collective bargaining with the management and employers. Provided training for midlevel management of the factories to improve their capacity to deal workers. Partner organizations are organising meeting with workers’ representatives, government inspection department and employer’s representatives for improving the working environment. MJF is building the capacity of partner organizations to implement the law.
National Decentralization Policy: On this issue, MJF has work together with a national coalition on ‘Decentralization & local governance’ named Governance Advocacy Forum (GAF). By this time a national decentralization policy has been drafted in consultation with citizens, local government associations, academicians, LG experts, bureaucrats, politicians and local government activists. The draft policy has been shared with the minister and handed over to the Secretary, MLGRDC.
Future plan: MJF with GAF will strengthen lobby with the policy makers for adopting the decentralization policy for the country.
Sitting Government Employees at Union Parishad Complex: MJF-Racine project has raised the issue at Union, Upazila and District coordination meeting. By their continuous efforts the district administration- Faridpur has issued an office- order to the concerned departments to have their officers at union complexes. As a result, some of the officers are now sitting at UP complexes.
Future plan: MJF will try to expand such mobilization in other parts of the country and raise to national level policy makers.
Resource mobilization of Local Government Institutions: MJF- LG projects has been supporting local government institutions for years. By this time, it has gained lessons on resource mobilization. Accumulating those lesions, MJF will try to initiate policy discussions on the issue.
Engaging civil society in public finance audit procedure: MJF along with Wave Foundation and Governance Advocacy Forum has planned to work with OCAG (Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh), one of the important guardian institutions of the country. The objective is to take joint initiatives to bring transparency in the public spending.
Effective implementation of National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010: Policy targets to remove hazardous child labour from Bangladesh by 2015. MJF is advocating with government for the effective implementation of the policy and through MJF’s partners also contributing to the national target.
Protect children from digital pornography: MJF for the first time Bangladesh conducted a study in 2009 on Child Pornography and start advocating with government to enact a new law for the protection from pornography. MJF took many initiatives including media campaign to bring the issue in front of the policy makers and submitted recommendations to relevant ministries for the enactment of new law. This issues has been raised by MJF to the UNCRC committee, too, which resulted a concluding recommendation from UNCRC committee was made to enact a law to protect child pornography. Finally in 2012 Pornography Control Act enacted. Now, MJF is taking different initiatives to aware people about the law and advocating with government to ensure the effective implementation of the law.
Strengthen National Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour & Employment: As per National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010 there is a provision to set up a Child Labour Unit to coordinate all the interventions nationally regarding child labour issues under the leadership of Ministry of Labour and Employment. . Though government has set up this unit but it is not functional yet. MJF is advocating to strengthen this Child Labour Unit and making this unit the key coordinating platform for all stakeholders related to the issue of child labour.
UNCRC Alternative Report and Annual Child Situation Report: As a part of international advocacy MJF along with its partner has prepared Alternative UNCRC report from Bangladesh and presented the CSO views in UN sessions. This alternative reporting process is a ongoing activity of MJF to communicate the child rights situation of Bangladesh with UN committee on UNCRC and the international community. This is also an effective tool to advocate with government different contemporary needs of the children in Bangladesh.
Annual Child Situation Report: Annually share a national child rights situation report to the media and other stakeholders through scanning the national daily newspapers. This report is considered as a source of authentic data of child rights situation for previous years. Many organizations and media use this data for their report and other initiatives.
Customary land law notification of CHT: The Customary land laws of the Indigenous communities of CHT are unwritten. CHT Regional Council (RC) took initiative to compile the customary land laws in support with MJF which is a historical demand.
Government of Bangladesh enacted Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act and formed Land Commission aimed to resolve the land dispute at the CHT which is the main spirit of Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord that was signed in 1997 between Bangladesh Government and Parbattyo Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS). The land related customary laws of the Indigenous communities of CHT is recognized in the Land Commission Act and the land related disputes are resolved by following the customary laws, so it is urgent to compile the un-written customary laws of the Indigenous communities and document it in written form. CHT RC is now engaged with capacity building activities of headman and curbary (traditional leader) as part of the advocacy initiative for notification of customary land law.
Adopting Bangladesh Supreme Court legal aid policy as a part of Legal Aid and Services Act: MJF conducted a research study to suggest necessary amendment to the Legal Aid Services Act, 2000 so that effective legal aid services plan/outline may be introduced and provided in the Bangladesh Supreme Court. Study report is presented by Barrister Tanjib-Ul-Alam in a sharing meeting where honorable Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs chaired. This report is critically discussed in the sharing meeting and an advisory committee is consists of NGO representative and panel lawyer for suggesting outline of the Supreme Court Legal Aid. Advisory committee conducted series of meeting in the National Legal Aid Services Organisation (NLASO) premise where outline and detailed operation plan of Supreme Court Legal Aid policy has been suggested. Compiling Advisory committee recommendations a draft bill is prepared for necessary amendment of Legal Aid Services Act, 2000 regarding implementation of Supreme Court Legal Aid.
Antidiscriminatory law: A research is situation analysis of different marginalized groups and review of anti-discriminatory laws of different countries has been completed. MJF jointly with Human Rights Commission and Law Commission will draft a law on anti -discriminatory law which will address discrimination issues of different marginalized groups.
Land law: Total 19 land law has been reviewed and a comprehensive land law has been drafted. This was commissioned to HDRC, a research organization which followed a series of consultations with different stakeholders to other methodologies to complete the work. A national level Steering Committee has been involved in the process from the beginning. Now MJF and Steering Committee will advocate, lobby to policy makers to adopt the law.
Implementation of disability act2013: All partner organizations of MJF will take initiatives to implement the law through awareness raising of the person with disability and their family, community and duty bearer so that person with disability gets dignity and better services as per law.