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Political Empowerment of Women

Despite provisions for Local Government in the 1972 Constitution of Bangladesh, genuine decentralisation, development and capacitation of local government remains limited. The enabling and relatively progressive regulations laid down in the Constitution and subsequent amendments are not fully applied in practice. Over the last decade there has been much interest in strengthening local government and the current Government has pledged continuing support for decentralisation reform. As such reforms are politically sensitive, progress is contested and consequently slow. Some progress has been made in terms of the political empowerment of women and elected women representatives are proving their value in raising the concerns of women and poor. This programme seeks to support elected women representatives and potential elected women representatives to develop further, represent their constituencies well and amplify women's voice so that women and poor can exercise their rights to information and local services.

This programme contributes to this development goal by focusing on women's political empowerment in particular on the role played by elected women representatives (EWR). The intervention logic suggests that building confidence, capacities and collective action among EWR and providing them with networks of support, advice and information will result in more attention being given to the concerns and issues of women and girls, as well as the poor in general, in policy and practice in public service delivery. It is premised on international research which indicates a correlation between active women in the political sphere and better development outcomes. It also addresses the need for more representational style politics where EWR are increasingly valued because they are responsive to community needs and priorities, make demands of service providers on their behalf and are accountable to their electorate for achievements in this regard. This approach challenges the patronage style of politics which currently prevails. EWR in this programme will be encouraged to enhance their engagement with citizens and with service providers to improve service delivery (software-processes) rather than concerning themselves with the direct distribution of benefits (hardware-relief, contracts, infrastructure etc).

The approach is expected to be transformational in that it will focus on putting knowledge into practice and changing attitudes, mind-set and practice.

Endorsing the SDC principle of working with existing organisations, the programme will continue to support and expand the networks of women elected members and other related networks which they have been instrumental in establishing as well as seeking linkage with other often scattered and isolated networks.

Recent Activities

Arrange workshops, conferences on women in government- sharing within and across programmes of LG

Support EWR Networks and WMP to develop position papers, parliamentary questions on issues emerging from the grassroots (related to local service provision, allocations etc)