MJF Covid-19 Responses in May 2020
During May 2020, MJF accelerated its advocacy and networking efforts to strengthen its partnership with various government agencies, CSOs, and media, demanding for meaningful support to ease sufferings of the marginalized communities. This e-newsletter highlights some of the activities undertaken during May 2020.
Overcoming rising inequality exposed by COVID-19
MJF’s Executive Director Ms. Shaheen Anam wrote an op-ed under the above title, published in the Daily Star on 9 May 2020. Referring to widening injustices all over the world, she made a clarion call: “Together, we have to make a stronger commitment to building a more humane, just and equitable society. For that to happen, we need strong political will, bold policy decisions, accountable transparent systems of service delivery, and collaboration of all sections of society.” Read it here
MJF findings draw wide-spread support
The release of MJF’s findings on violence against women and children during lock-down period in April was widely covered in all forms of media. The findings dominated the public discourse for a week, prompting TV channels to organize talk shows where MJF ED Shaheen Anam highlighted key findings and suggested effective measures to mitigate the violence. An online TV, HerNet, also sought Ms. Anam’s expert opinion on this subject. BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University also organized a webinar where Ms. Shaheen Anam participated as one of the panelists on a discussion on Gender, Violence, and Women’s Experiences during Covid-19.
Radio talk on Radio Bhumi
On 26 May 2020, MJF’s Executive Director Ms. Shaheen Anam appeared on a talk on Radio Bhumi and spoke in detail about MJF’s Covid-19 activities, including the organization’s overall development efforts for Bangladesh’s 1.6 million marginalised people. Listen to her talk here.
MJF’s crowd-funding initiatives
In April, MJF launched a crowd-funding appeal for indigenous Garo girls who have been living in dire conditions after losing their jobs in beauty salons which closed down during Covid-19 lockdowns. With receipt of a total amount of Taka 2, 48,000/-, MJF was able to provide support to 113 Garo girls this month. The remaining amount will be utilized in future fundraising initiatives.
The Daily Star mentioned MJF’s initiative in its report. Daily Prothom Alo in an op-ed on the plight of beauticians, also referred MJF’s crowd-funding initiatives.
Inspired by the success of its first crowd-funding initiative, MJF has launched another appeal in May to support sex workers, hijra/transgender citizens, and persons with disabilities. Launched through a partnership with a crowd-funding portal, MJF aims to assist 1000 vulnerable people by transferring BDT 1,500 to each of them.
MJF also encouraged online purchasing of local products during Eid shopping to support the hand-loom weavers, affected badly by Covid-19.
PRIA International Academy of India & Asia Democracy Network of South Korea organized a webinar on ‘The Role of South Asian Civil Society in the Times of COVID-19 Pandemic’ on May 22. MJF ED Shaheen Apa was one of the panelists and highlighted the need for concerted efforts of all stakeholders to tackle the Covid-19 crises in the region.
MJF is now a member of Bangladesh chapter of LNOB Coalition
On 7 May 2020, MJF became a member of the Bangladesh Chapter of Leave No One behind Coalition, a global partnership initiative of the Berlin-based International Civil Society Centre, launched in 2017. The Bangladesh Chapter is managed by BRAC. The current members of LNOB Bangladesh Chapter are: ActionAid, BRAC, Care International, CBM, Islamic Relief, Plan International, Save the Children, Transparency International and VSO.
MJF’s dynamic Media and communication Lead Ms. Shahana Huda Ranjana continued her advocacy blitz to influence public opinion on various socio-economic aspects of the Covid-19 fallout. She wrote a total of six op-ed pieces on wide-ranging issues such as: reintegration of returning migrant workers, how the wealthy can encourage quality of care in public hospitals; deferring public exams; unique Eid celebration during pandemic; duty of the State to provide relief on the basis of equity and dignity, and importance of avoiding consumerism during pandemic. She also appeared on a TV talk-show expressing her views about dire conditions of sex workers and transgender people during the COVID pandemic.
Shoma Datta, Programme Manager of MJF wrote an op-ed highlighting the need for diversifying and accelerating production in all fields to survive amidst the fallout of COVID pandemic. MJF’s Deputy Programme Manager Kazi Mitul Mahmud, who pioneered MJF’s first crowd source initiative, also appeared in a webcast by Youth Opportunities Bangladesh on 12 May, highlighting youth’s scope of work in research and development sector in the changing landscape of post-coronavirus world.
With the support of Global Affairs Canada (GAC), MJF has initiated an online campaign under Women’s Voice and Leadership Bangladesh (WVLB) project, to highlight key messages, among others, on the rights of sex workers and transgender, stigmatization of Coronavirus patients during lockdown, and value of women’s unpaid work.
Uttaran invited in the official committee in Satkhira
MJF’s partner, Uttaran was inducted as one of the members in a district committee in Satkhira for ensuring quarantine during the Civil-19 period. Deputy Commissioner’s Office Satkhira issued an order in this regard.
Support to COVID-affected people from marginalized communities continued during May 2020. Sida-supported NGO, Gono Unnayon Kendra provided income-generating support in Gaibandha. Ashika Development Associates also provided emergency food support to indigenous communities in Kaptai, Rangamati. GAUS distributed food support to 150 families in Bandarban Sadar, Rowngchari, and Thanchi upazilla.
Support to communities affected by Amphan cyclone
A devastating cyclone named Amphan hit Bangladesh on 21 May, killing more than 12 people and destroying thousands of homes and crops. Amphan uprooted trees, submerged vast tracts of land and snapped power and communication lines. MJF’s partner NGOs in the coastal districts carried out several relief missions. Youth volunteers also participated in the warning campaign through megaphones to move people to cyclone centres. MJF Partner, Access Bangladesh Foundation and Women with Disability Foundation provided support to persons with disabilities affected by Amphan cyclone. In Satkhira, partner NGO provided cooked food to cyclone-affected needy people.
MRDI launched a quiz competition for the youth in Bangladesh to raise awareness about Right to Information. This was supported by MJF and launched with 10-Minute School in April, this app will empower the youth to become more aware about social issues, especially Right to Information Act 2009. This app is available on Google’s Playstore.
During May, MJF lost its three outstanding mentors and supporters who passed away due to coronavirus or old-age complications. On 26 May, Niloufer Manzur, Founder of Sunbeams School in Dhaka, passed away from COVID-19 infection. She was the spouse of MJF’s Chairperson, Mr. Syed Manzur Elahi, who is also being treated now for coronavirus infection. Earlier, one of the most respected scholars, pre-eminent academic and luminary National Professor Anisuzzaman breathed his last on 14 May. He was tested positive for coronavirus after his death. Last month, another National Professor Dr Jamilur Reza Choudhury passed away due to heart attack. MJF is deeply saddened by the demise of three luminaries and recognizes their valuable contribution for the country.
Change of office address
Since 2002, MJF has been operating in rented offices. It has now moved from its latest office at Banani to a newly-built 10-storied MJF Tower at Mirpur. The new address is: Plot 3 and 4, Haji Road, Avenue 3, Section 2, Mirpur Dhaka.