Political Empowerment of Women (in Local Government)

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.

Goal : Rural and urban poor (especially women) in Bangladesh are getting information and enhanced , responsive and prompt local services.


Outcome 1: Elected Women representatives are accountable to their constituencies and together with potential future EWR and former EWR32 are collectively requiring gender and poverty sensitive practice in local service delivery.

Outcome 2: Provisions (legal framework incl. ordinance & directives) , political commitment and public opinion conducive for inclusion and participation of EWR (and potential EWR) and for promoting gender sensitive service provision at community level.

Outcome 3: Information,technical and advisory support for EWR valued, used and continuing.

Some Results Achieved till Today:

According to project objectives 524 EWRs have acquired knowledge on service provisions of different service providers (Education, Health and Agriculture) and trying to ensure services from concern department for the people. Among them, 490 EWRs are involved in Community Clinic Management Committee (CCMC), 323 in School Management Committee (SMC) and 183 in Agriculture extension services. EWRs visited 730 primary schools and 477 Community Clinics along with other members of standing committee and after their visit they have placed their findings in UP monthly meeting. In some cases concern department has taken initiative to resolve the problems (Attached case study), rest of the problems are waiting to be resolved. They ensured 1,35,294 VGF cards for poor and disadvantage women. Last year they could manage only 66,693 VGF cards. They also ensured 13024 old age allowance, 43548 widow allowance and protect 583 violance aganist women.

Aparajita Democracywatch areas 371 potential woman leaders and 119 volunteers (M-76, F-43) have been co-opted in UP standing committees during the reporting year