Diakonia - People change the world


Diakonia operates in partnership with NGOs in Bangladesh, increasing awareness and respect for human rights, improving access to social and economic resources and action through mainstreaming gender equality. The work is mostly carried out in the rural areas of the country

Extreme poverty and instability

Bangladesh is a small South Asian country by the Bay of Bengal, bordered by India and Myanmar. The country is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The main income comes from agriculture, the service sector and industries such as garments. People from Bangladesh also migrate to other countries as expats in culinary and banking sector and also as workers in construction industry.People from Bangladesh also migrate to other countries as expats in culinary and banking sector and also as workers in construction industry.

Bangladesh maintains a steady economic growth and social development. The country  has been successful in reducing its poverty rate - real per-capita income has increased over the last decade. However, there is a substantial inequality in wealth and income. More than one third of the population is struggling in abject poverty. The vast majority of the poor is concentrated in the rural areas and living under the poverty line of $1.25 per day .

Geographically, Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, with cyclones, floods and water-logging, droughts, landslides and earthquakes. These events are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Despite emitting the least greenhouse gases, Bangladesh is nevertheless extremely vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.

Violence against women is an obstacle to development

Gender based discrimination and particularly violence against women is a major concern and obstacle to real development in Bangladesh. Women suffer from poverty and economic and social disadvantages at much higher rates than men.
Gender discrimination manifests itself in unequal property rights and wages, in violence against women, both at home and outside, in gender stereotyping and in discriminatory beliefs that restrict women’s economic, political, social and cultural opportunities. Women’s economic dependency limits their opportunities to protest against disadvantages or to take action against discrimination within their own family and society.

Our work in Bangladesh

We have been working in Bangladesh since 1970, when a devastating cyclone hit the southern parts of the country. This makes Diakonia the first registered organization under the government’s NGO Affairs Bureau.

The long presence in the country has strengthened our relationships with stakeholders. This enables us to work for equality and justice in different times of difficulties, through support during crises such as disasters, political instability, human rights violations and gender based violence.

Together with our partner organizations we work to empower rights holders, create resilient communities and promote people’s participation in socio-economic, cultural and political governance processes.

The partner organizations work at a national level as well as in various rural districts with a special focus on disadvantaged women and young people. Our partners are also working with  community leaders, civil society, local government, media and government authorities.

Some of our results

We have built awareness and respect for human rights, created space for democratic environment; improved access to social and economic resources, broadened disaster mitigation strategies and promoted gender equality.

Together with our partner organizations and the most vulnerable men, women and youth we have strengthened community based actions and support, facilitating community groups such as gender development forums, social entrepreneur groups, adolescent groups, student volunteer groups and village development committees. These groups have been formed to monitor and respond to violence against women, increase awareness and respect for human rights and uphold people's rights to access social services. Through this focus, we have seen successful cases of communities preventing child marriages and violence against women. 

Read more about our work in Bangladesh

  • “Knowledge is power”

    These words are from Ripu Akther, aged 16, in Bangladesh. “I want to spread the light of education everywhere in my village,” she adds. “I dream of becoming a good teacher. My village is off the beaten track,...
  • Played a key role in repairing the community's pond

    The pond was vital for the community’s living, but heavy rainfall damaged one of the embankments, and water and fish started to escape. The money needed for the repairs was beyond the poor villagers’ capacity....
  • The river bank turned into a green land

    When cyclone Aila hit the south of Bangladesh in 2007, the village of Pankhipara was inundated by saline water. Whole areas of the river bank were washed away and became infertile land. Today – thanks to a...
  • Bangladesh: Our society doesn’t appreciate girls playing football.

    “My greatest desire is to become a famous football player in the national team. When I play in front of hundreds of people, I feel proud and like a big player. Our society doesn’t appreciate girls playing...
  • Wanted the same freedom as the boys

    A two-wheeler with an iron structure, the so-called bicycle has given a girl the feeling of flying like a bird and to have the taste of freedom. This is thanks to a gender project in the northern part of...
  • Bangladesh

    Diakonia operates in partnership with NGOs in Bangladesh, increasing awareness and respect for human rights and improving access to social and economic resources. Diakonia and our partner organizations work mostly in the rural areas of Bangladesh. Diakonia in Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh: She feels free on her bicycle

    Samarthy Rani Roy had to face bad comments from boys when she started to go to school on a bicycle. But with more and more girls cycling the overall environment has changed for the better.
  • Bangladesh: Playing football to break gender norms

    “When I started to play football, it was against my father’s will. He thought girls were not supposed to play football. But that changed when my team won a tournament: ‘Okay, girls can play football if they...
  • Bangladesh: Empowering 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...