TACOMA, Washington — Women’s empowerment in Bangladesh has been a pivotal aspect of the country’s progress over the decades. Bangladesh has witnessed significant transformations in its social, economic and political landscapes, primarily driven by initiatives to empower women, from microfinance programs pioneered by various institutions to organizations working tirelessly to improve women’s access to education, health care and economic opportunities. These efforts have elevated women’s status in society and contributed to the nation’s overall development.
5 Organizations Aiding Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh
- USAID: USAID initiatives empower women economically, socially and politically, enabling them to take on leadership roles, access education and gain financial independence. In 2022, over 300 female leaders representing unions, federations and communities underwent training. In addition, 172 women successfully assumed leadership roles within registered unions, and 21 women secured leadership positions in worker community associations. USAID’s support extended to creating anti-sexual harassment committees within union factories. These committees are pivotal in guaranteeing that companies furnish essential amenities such as complimentary female hygiene products, ultrasound examinations for expectant employees and childcare facilities for younger children.
- Tarango: Tarango, a dedicated NGO in Bangladesh, has been at the forefront of women’s development. Through skill-building programs, microcredit initiatives and advocacy for women’s rights, Tarango empowers women in rural and disadvantaged communities. These projects have a transformative impact, fostering economic self-sufficiency and social empowerment, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and prosperous future for Bangladeshi women. In 2000, Kohinoor Yeasmin, a champion of women’s rights and gender equality, assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer at Tarango. Under her guidance, the organization now aids approximately 18,425 women in nine districts throughout Bangladesh and produces diverse craft items.
- BRAC: BRAC’s comprehensive programs encompass education and skills training, enabling women to break barriers and lead more fulfilling lives. By reaching millions of women in rural and urban areas, BRAC has played a pivotal role in promoting gender equality, empowering women and fostering positive change throughout Bangladesh. By the end of 2012, there were over 22,718 primary schools and 15,859 pre-primary schools, with approximately 1.1 million students enrolling in primary and pre-primary schools. About 60% of the students are girls.
- The Manusher Jonno Foundation: The Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) has been a catalyst for women’s development in Bangladesh. Through strategic initiatives, they focus on enhancing women’s access to education, health care and economic opportunities. Their programs promote gender equity, address violence against women and strengthen women’s participation in decision-making processes. Manusher Jonno Foundation’s tireless efforts contribute to a more inclusive and empowered society that prioritizes women’s rights and aspirations. In 2022, through their SRWG, 14,256 women recorded medical and legal assistance and prevented 6431 child marriages. As of 2023, MFJ has aided 3 million beneficiaries, upgraded the capacity of 400 NGO’s and operates in 53 districts.
- Grameen Bank: Grameen Bank, a pioneering institution founded by Muhammad Yunus, has been a lifeline for women’s development in Bangladesh. Its microcredit programs provide financial support to impoverished women, enabling them to start small businesses and gain economic independence. This empowerment has a ripple effect, improving the well-being of families and communities and contributing significantly to women’s progress in Bangladesh. In 2007, it had 7.06 million borrowers, of whom 97% were women. The bank operates in more than 76,848 villages, covering more than 91% of all villages in Bangladesh. As of 2022, the number of borrowers has increased to 9.5 million, with women beneficiaries still at approximately 97%.
Women’s development in Bangladesh stands as a testament to resilience, progress and empowerment. From microcredit initiatives to educational access, NGOs and institutions have played pivotal roles in advancing gender equality. Bangladesh has seen a surge in women assuming leadership positions, participating in the workforce and contributing significantly to the nation’s development. Challenges persist, including gender-based violence and discrimination, but the trajectory is promising. With continued dedication, collaboration and policy support, Bangladesh can further enhance opportunities for its women, ensuring a more equitable and prosperous future where women continue to be architects of change, fostering a nation where gender equality thrives.
– Piyush Plabon Das