The way to empowerment for the community
Power. Power for people to influence the decisions affecting their own community and getting more involved. That is the outcome of a project carried out in the northwest of Bangladesh. Meet some of the people who have contributed to the change.
Around thirty people are gathered in a hall room, seated on oval shaped chairs. Only a slim, young man in his early twenties is standing up, reading from the resolution book where all decisions and discussions of the group members are noted. Everyone is listening attentively and occasionally correcting the notes. The young man notes the corrections instantly.
This is a scenario of a group monitoring and contributing to the work of their Union Parishad, the smallest rural administrative and local government unit in Bangladesh. As a part of the project “Effective Participation for Transparent and Accountable Local Governance”, the group is closely monitoring the Vognogor Union Parishad in Birgonj upazila in Dinajpur district.
“We meet every third month to discuss the needs in our communities. Together we prioritize what needs to be done”, says Lalmohon Sarkar, a businessman and the president of the group.
"Now we know our rights"
Imrana Parvin, the vice president of the watch group summarises the benefits of the meetings in one word: “Power”.
Then she explains: “We have power now. After participating in the project activities, we know how to claim what we need and receive the services we are entitled to from the Union Parishad. We help the community and each other with this knowledge. People respect us now. But before attending trainings on issues like gender, leadership, decision making, good governance and human rights, people in the community usually didn’t come to the Union Parishad. Especially not women. And we didn’t know anything about the services the Union Parishad can provide. We didn’t know our rights then. Now we do“.
"We are not going to stop"
Faratun Begum, a housewife and member of the group says: “Since 2014 we have been arranging rallies on International Women’s day - March 8th. It’s our own decision and we cover the for costs for banners, festoons as well as snacks.
Now both Faratun Begum and Imrana Parvin are contesting for the reserved seat of the female Union Parishad members.
Ansarul Islam, a village farmer says, “We have started now and we are not going to stop.”
Story told by: Israt Jahan, project officer in Bangladesh.