Steps Towards Development: An Overview
Journey of Steps Towards Development
In 1993, a group of social activists agreed to work on an initiative, inspired by the belief that the gender inequalities prevalent in this country could only be addressed by working together. That willingness led to the establishment of Steps Towards Development (Steps). It was officially registered as a non-political, not-for-profit, non-government voluntary organization in 1994.
The organization started by developing its Network, Training, and Materials Development components. Through these components, Steps reached out to different communities and individuals to promote gender equality and human rights. Even in its early years, Steps immediately gained recognition at both local and national level as a gender-promoting organization.
Its components are Development Workers’ Initiatives through Networking (DWIN), Centre for Development Training (CDT), Audio-Visual Centre (AVC), Gender and Development Communication (GDCC), Gender and Development Resource (GDRC) Centre. Each Centre works independently and interdependently for the promotion of Steps’ mission. Meanwhile the Human Resource Management & Administration and Finance components provide technical support on staff and financial matters. Special Projects component looks after interventions that are supportive to the furtherance of the organization’s mission.
The activities of the organization with local based organizations are coordinated through DWIN, as Steps implement its activities at local level in different parts in Bangladesh. It is also working with other national and international organizations for collective initiatives on different national and international issues.
The reason for the existence of Steps Towards Development is defined in its Vision, Mission, Objectives and Principles as shown below:
Steps want to help create a democratic society that
- provides equal opportunities and benefits to men and women
- is characterized by good governance, justice and respect for women’s human rights;
- eliminates discrimination and patriarchy;
- is educated and poverty free, and preserves social and human values.
Steps’ mission is to enhance gender equality, to improve the condition and position of women, to protect the human rights of women and girls, and to increase women’s participation in decision-making and governance at all levels.
- Increase women’s political participation
- Promotion and protection of women’s human rights
- Increase responsiveness of urban and rural governance
- Increase gender sensitive development organizations/institutions
- Develop learning collaboration with Government of Bangladesh to ensure gender responsive policies and mechanism.
Policies in practice
- Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS),
- Millennium Development Goal (MDG)
- Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA)
- Sectoral Policies
- Uniform family law (Equal property rights, uniform marriage registration and divorce law)
- Laws on violence against women (domestic violence, eve teasing)
- Laws on birth and marriage registration
- Laws on early marriage
- Women’s participation in decision-making process
- Prevent early marriage
- Reduce violence against women including domestic violence and eve teasing
- Gender budgeting
- Gender-sensitive media
- Networking and collective platform development
- Support to local initiatives to protect and promote women’s human rights
- Capacity building of the collective platform and support groups
- Institutionalization of gender equality and women’s human rights
- Advocacy and campaign
- Research and documentation
- Develop print and audio-visual materials
- Gender-sensitive organizational development
DWIN is the coordinating and monitoring hub of Steps’ activities with the partners of local networks, facilitators and local support groups aiming to build their capacity for a long term contribution to change the gender relations Bangladesh. DWIN translates the needs into actions at local and national level. It also works to develop learning collaboration between and among government, civil society and service providers. Based on such collaborations, service-providers along with the social volunteers have started to take initiatives to increase birth registration, reduce early marriage and combat violence against women. Last year, DWIN undertook a number of initiatives to enhance the organizing, implementation, monitoring and reporting skills at both central and local level. From 2003-2007 DWIN organized different awareness raising and advocacy programs both at national and local level, such as mobilizations, dialogues, discussion, school based programs, learning-experience sharing workshops etc.
Centre for Development Training (CDT), the training component of Steps Towards Development, is working to build the capacity of development workers, activists and institutions to promote gender equality, human rights and good governance. It develops training modules and materials that are used by Steps as well as other organizations. Through these efforts, CDT also develops trainers and facilitators at both local and national level to ensure continuous dissemination of gender mainstreaming concepts. CDT has a unique mechanism to transfer to knowledge, skill and information from national to local level. From 2003-2007 CDT conducted a number of trainings to develop facilitation skill of development workers from different organizations on gender equality. Besides, CDT has taken initiative to develop the capacity of development organizations to implement gender sensitive policy in their projects and change there organizational practice. [See the CDT 5 years report]
Audio-Visual (AV) Center
With the slogan video for development and artistic expression, the Audio-Visual (AV) Center of Steps is working to build awareness of the people towards a just and equitable society. The center produces different audio-visual materials and disseminates those into the communities as well as at the national level. The AV Center is also working to document positive changes, people’s movements and voices for education and capacity building. These activities also help influence policy-planners. From 2003 AV Center screened issues-based documentaries at Steps’ pilot areas and networks to make aware grass-roots people about specific issues. Beside this, AV center has aired its documentaries in different private channel of Bangladesh, which helps to catch and disseminate the message to a wider audience. [See the AVC 5 years report]
Gender and Development Communication Component (GDCC) always playing a role of think-tank in the field of gender, development and social communication, through introducing new concepts and issues to change the existing thought processes. From 2003 GDCC has published different journals, posters, booklet, leaflet and articles to transfer the field demand into print materials. Beside this, number of initiatives were taken by GDCC including gender budgeting, eve teasing, National Policy for Women’s Advancement, CEDAW. Through regular campaign and advocacy on these issues, Steps not only has earned recognition as a women’s rights promoting organization, but also has developed strong linkage at the policy-planning level, which is contributing to achieve the objectives of Steps. [See the GDCC 5 years report]
Gender and Development Resource Center (GDRC) collects, compiles and disseminates relevant development information and conducts research to bring into fore field level experiences for policy reform and its implementation. The Central GDRC, which is located at the office of Steps Towards Development, develops and maintains an Information Data Bank (IDB). It ensures regular upgrading of information on the web as well as coordinates 15 local-level GDRCs at the networks. The local GDRCs do not only disseminate information and materials, they also serve as local platforms for sharing and exchanging of views among civil society, students, and development activists and others. The local GDRCs are regularly updating information on network achievements, challenges and issues related to women’s human rights in a systematic manner. This has made possible to track down any changes at the local level.
Strategy 1: Networking
Steps recognizes the fact that in Bangladesh, profound social change cannot be achieved in an isolation from the cultural, social and structural factors impacting on gender relations. Therefore, Steps focuses on a strategy that reaches out all directions. Steps is attaining all the way down to individual activists working at the roots of communities, through local level NGOs and networks. On the other hand, it also reaches up to inform and influence national level policy makers. Steps builds networks with social activists, like-minded organizations and people, civil society, NGOs, government bodies at local, national and regional level. At present, Steps has networking with following collective platforms–
- Gender and Development (GAD) Alliance
- Shared resources to develop as gender and rights based organizations
- Minimized duplication of work
- Raising collective voice against any kinds of discrimination at local and national level
- Strong relationship with different govt., and civil society bodies
- Minimum cost-maximum impact
- It is a strong collective platform of the 13 networks as well as Steps at national level
- Collective Platforms of Civil Society Organizations
- Disseminating information and message to the community to develop responsive citizens for promoting gender equality and women’s human rights
- Raising collective voice and actions against all kinds of discrimination against women and for social change at local as well as national level for policy advocacy
- Working as a pressure group at local and national level to protect women’s human rights and ensure access to justice and rule of law
- Ensuring active participation in different social and local govt. institutions for pro-poor and gender-sensitive planning and budgeting
- Local Trainers’ Groups (LTGs)
- Collective Platforms of Women Activists (WAs)
- Social development committee, village court to ensure women’s human rights and justice.
- Education Monitoring Committees to work with School Management Committee (SMC) to ensure co-curricular activities on gender and rights
- Local government with enhanced knowledge and leadership quality and they are raising voices to ensure equal sharing of public resources.
- School Management Committees in different working areas to ensure co-curricular activities at school level on gender and rights
- Collective Platforms of Student Volunteers (SVs)
- In 2003-2007, out of 1347 early marriage attempts, 747 cases were successfully prevented by Student Volunteers and Social actors in collaboration with local government and local administration.
- Students Volunteers are working to establish learning collaboration with dropped-out students and adolescents to continue their education.
- Gender and PRSP Group (GPG)
- A forum of 122 individuals including 12 organizations who believe in creating a gender-sensitive media and positive portrayal of women. GIMF works to:
- Disseminate information and message on gender and rights issues through printing and electronic media.
- Find and publish best practices and portraits of women and social activists.
- Raising collective voice and taking action against any kinds of discrimination for social change with social actors.
- GIMF is an active campaigner of gender sensitive media policy with practice.
- Social Action Committee
- CEDAW Committee
Strategy 2: Collaborative Partnership
With the support of networks, organizations and committed people, Steps is committed to building a system of learning collaboration from local to national level. These learning collaborations exist between and among civil society, media, service providers and community people. It required establishing collective platforms at both national and local level. These collective platforms have developed facilitators and social actors within civil society, professional groups, people’s representatives, students and women activists. At national level it has developed collaborative partnership with MoWCA, ERD, finance, education, health and LG ministries for considering gender issues in their respective fields. At local level Steps has partnership with different service providers and govt. institutions (e.g. kazi office, health centers, schools) to make them responsive towards establishing a just society.
- Collaborative Partnership with GoB
- Collaborative Partnership with Local Govt.
- Collaborative Partnership with Service-providers
Part – 3
Contribute by Steps in social development sectors in Bangladesh
Increase Women Participation in Decision Making Process
Half of the population of Bangladesh is women. It is obvious that without participation of this half portion of population sustainable development of Bangladesh can not be attained. It is now well recognized that to established human rights, women rights need to be ensured first. For fruitful democracy and development, women participation in decision making is needed in all spheres of state and society. Women political participation from grassroots to national parliament can bring the qualitative change in democracy and development of country. Lack of women participation in decision making also helps to persist the gender discrimination in society. Steps wants to achieve its vision of establishing a democratic society with equal opportunity and benefits and eliminating the discrimination and patriarchy from society through this objective. For this, from very beginning Steps wants to see women’s participation in decision making of process of its partner organizations, civil society platforms, different institutions and committees of working areas.
In 2003 Steps started its work in 155 pilot areas (92 Rural and 63 urban areas) of 13 districts with 12 networks comprising of 136 partner organizations. The social volunteers group that was formed namely gender change activists group (GCA) was comprised of social entrepreneurs group, student volunteers group and women activist group. The group included 3054 women among 6857 member as social entrepreneurs and women activists. Steps provided support to increase issue based knowledge and skill to this group through different trainings, materials, video screening, sharing discussion etc. Beside this Steps took different initiatives to increase women participation in civil society platform/networks, and its partner organizations. At that time Steps and its partner organizations took an ideological stand that if any partner organization has not any female in the management or decision making level it would capacitate woman from second line, so that they can participate in the decision making in course of time. Steps and 12 networks also advocated for raising number of women in the decision making levels of networks. It was decided then, at least one women member must be included executive committee of network. In 2003-04 there were 10 women in decision making process of networks of 12 networks.
During this phase, this women activists group started to become social activists and started to take action/initiatives in different cases against women’s human rights specially VAW and EM. The active participation of this group helped to activate different committees in the working areas, such as nari nirjaton protirodh committees (NNPC), social development committees (SDC), school management committees (SMC), Ain-shringkhola rokhka committee etc. Due to their initiatives these committees not only became active but women participation also increased in these committees. At the end of 2006 it was found that 37% NNPC, 68% SMC and 26 % SDC have become active and members of the women activists group are participating in these committees in different ways. Not only that, these women activists were also played contributory role in different community arbitration, facilitated movement against VAW, disseminated messages on program issues to other people. All these indicated that the women activists groups are going to be flourished as social activists or social facilitators in their community.
At the same time Steps initiatives to increase women participation in partner organizations were going on. Through developing and practicing gender sensitive policies, Steps encouraged the partner organizations to include women participation in decision making process. Increasing women participation in decision making process of civil society platform was also going on. At the end of 2006 there were 16 women in the decision making process of networks.
During this time the number of total women activist among the GCAs became high than the previous year. The total number of women activist during this time was 6605 and among them, a number of women (590) were found as community and political leaders. They showed their interest to be incorporated with power structure. This time the group started to feel that excluding from power structure and decision making process it will be difficult to achieve gender equality. At that time 161 elected female members of local governance were started to raise their voices on women’s human rights issues at different meetings, seminars, mobilizations etc.
Steps initiatives to increase women participation in partner organizations and network were continuing. AT network level decision making process there were 18 women in 13 networks in 2007. At that time Steps and its local networks have taken a decision to incorporate representatives from civil society platform in network decision making process and at least one of the representatives must be woman. This process also enhances the women participation in decision making process. At present 19 women out of 37 representatives from civil society platform is actively participating in decision making process of networks.
Present Status towards achieving the objectives
At present 5319 women activist of Gender Change activists group are taking initiatives as social activists. They are taking different initiatives against VAW, EM and any violation against women’s human rights.
Leadership quality of women activists group has been increased and at present 590 women from social volunteers group is ready to participate and compete in power structure.
2525 women are participating in decision making process of different committees (NNPC, SMC, SDC etc.), institutions (Local governance), and civil society platforms (local Networks).
- 582 women are involved in Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Committees (NNPCs)
- 624 Women are involbved in Social Development Committees (SDCs) as active members to prevent violence against women in their respective localities.
- 1272 women are now actively participating at the decision-making process in school management committees
- Chiefs of 28 organizations out of 126 partner organization of networks are female and at network level 18 women are member in the executive committee of 13 networks of GAD alliance.
- Leadership quality of women in civil society platform has been increased. At present 19 women out of 37 representatives from civil society platform is actively participating in decision making process of networks.
- Bargain capacities of elected female members of local governance have been increased. At present 161 elected female members and 30 female ward commissioner of local governance who are also the member of gender change activists group are now better capable with enhanced knowledge and leadership quality and they are raising voices to promote gender equality and protect women’s human rights in their respective areas
Strong advocacy and active participation of women activists group has activate local government of 183 unions and wards, 183 Nari Nirjatopn Protirodh Committees/Cells (NNPC) is active to deal with the cases of violence against women, early marriage and birth registration.
- Combating age-old superstition and social culture
- Political influence and traditional beliefs
- Existing power structure that disregard women member’s opinion during decision making.
- No specific roles-responsibilities of UP female members
- Knowledge, skill and leadership quality of women activists has been increased, which ultimately help to eliminate the blame of less quality of women leaders in increasing 33% women participation in political institutions.
- Increased number of women participation in different institutions and committees increase the national percentage of women participation in decision making.
- Advocacy with political party, electoral governance, local governance to increase women participation in decision making.
- Advocacy with media for considering women issues
Although the constitution states that all citizen are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection by the law, but women’s human rights often violated here due to patriarchal social system and religious influence. In our society, women’s human rights are violated both at public and private sector which hinders her rights to live, security, participation and flourish her talents. This situation pressurized Steps to take the objective promotion and protection of women’s human rights for establishing a society with justice and respect for women’s human rights. To address the objectives, Steps emphasized on some specific issues, that are closely related with women’s human rights.
- Increase Birth Registration
- Increase Marriage registrations
- Prevent early marriage
- Combat violence against women
In 2003 Steps has started its piloting in 155 working areas (92 rural and 63 urban areas).
- At the end of 2003, 6857 social actors of those working areas become aware of increasing birth registration. They started to become conscious about positive effect of birth registration and negative effect of non registration.
- In 2004 social actors have started to take initiatives for registering birth in their working areas. At the end of 2004 total 60,201 birth registration (25,706 in urban and 34,495 in rural areas) had completed in working areas of Steps’.
- In 2004, due to Steps’ continuous advocacy, lobbying and inputs as a member of law formation process, Birth and Death registration Law 2004 has been enacted at national level.
- In 2005, a learning collaboration has been developed between the social actors and the local governance. In most areas unit of local governance had became active to increase birth registration along with the social actors. At the end of 2005 total 1,08,229 BR (45897 in urban and 62332 in rural areas) had been completed with the active initiatives of social actors and local governance. During this time PNGOs of Steps has been started to replicate the issues at their other working areas and programs.
- In 2006, in some pilot areas 100% BR had been completed. Total 41 pilot areas (15 urban and 26 rural areas) of Steps earned the achievements of 100% BR. At the end of this year total 7,41,260 BR (365028 in urban and 376232 in rural areas) had been completed by the active initiatives of local government of 185 urban and rural areas.
- In 2006, in 5 districts MoU has been signed between local administrations (district administration, upazila administration, local government institutions) and local networks to increase birth and marriage registration prevent early marriage and violence against women through their respective bodies and institutions. Total 5 district administration (District Commissioner, District Judge, District Registrar, Additional District Commissioner), 34 Upazila administrators (UNO), 201 local government institutions (Urban and Rural) and 294 marriage registrars and purahits (those who conduct marriages in Hindu community) have signed in the MoU with commitment of replicating the issues in other areas of the districts.
- During this period social actors have been able to develop collaborative partnership with local administration and local governance. By this time 4 More MoU between local administration and networks has been signed in 4 districts with the same aim of increasing birth registration and stop early marriage at other areas of the districts. Up to 2007 total 17,89,641 (867066 in urban and 922182 in rural areas) birth has been registered at the working areas of Steps’. Beside this due to replication of partner organizations and local administration the number has increased more. Up to 2007, 4064881 and 6245635 birth has been registered by the replication of PNGOs and local government respectively.
- Total 58 working areas of Steps has been completed 100% BR. Beside this in 44 working areas of PNGOs 100% BR has been achieved.
Preventing Early Marriage
- Steps’ started its program in the working areas tried to increase awareness of social actors. In 2003 it has initiated different programs so that the community people could realize that early marriage is a major obstacle towards gender equality and promotion of women’s rights. Before intervention in the pilot areas, it was difficult to imagine preventive measures against early marriage by civil society and the local community service providers. Different awareness program has changed the scenario
- In 2004, Social actors have taken 188 initiatives to stop EM and have been able to prevent 55 (38 in rural and 17 in urban areas) potential cases of early marriage.
- By 2005, a major change has been observed in working areas of Stpes’. Student portion of social actors group have started to report early marriage attempts to other social volunteers, school teachers, even local government representatives and demanded action. Beside this, Local government representatives due to learning collaboration with social actors have begun to respond against attempts at early marriage. In 2005, total 491 initiatives were taken by the social volunteers and of them 275 (192 in rural and 83 in urban areas) cases have been prevented by the active action of social volunteers along with local government. That means social volunteers had been able to stop 56% potential cases of early marriages.
- Due to the MoU between local administration and local networks, local administration has started to take initiatives to replicate the issues to other areas. AT that time 185 marriage registrar office (101 in rural and 84 in urban areas ) become active to prevent early marriages. In 2006 together with social actors’ group different committees and institutions of local governance has started action against incidents of early marriages. During that period, social actors along with local governance have taken initiatives against 425 cases of early marriages, of those 274 (191 in rural and 83 in urban areas) was prevented.
- Local administration and PNGOs of Steps’ has replicated the issues in different areas. Both the community people and local governance become more responsive to any gender discrimination issues such as early marriage. During this period, 243 cases of early marriages were protested by the social volunteers among them 143 (81 in rural and 62 in urban areas) were prevented by the active initiatives of them.
- 143 marriage registrar offices have become active to prevent early marriage. They are seeking birth registration certificate during marriage registration. So that any parents can not registered marriage by distorting the age of bride and bridegroom. Beside the working areas of Steps’ 183 and 365 marriage registrar office in the replicating areas of PNGOs and local administration respectively, have taken similar interventions.
Combat Violence against women
The acceptance of VAW in Bangladesh is both social and political issues. Steps’ started to work with the issues while the community was silent about this. In 2003 Steps’ tried to make the social actors aware and at the same time tried to make responsive the local governance and service delivery institutions about the issue. From 2004 the social actors stared to raise their voices against VAW. AT that time it was really a difficult task, as traditional society was not much concern about the issues. At that time Steps has arranged mass mobilization in its pilot areas to raise awareness of community people to prevent VAW. In 2004 Social actors have protested against 257 incidents of VAW and among those 13 cases were filed in the court for legal solution.
- In 2005 social actors played a leading role to make active the Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committee (NNPC), the legal body of the local government tasked to protect women’s rights. As of 2005, 70 out of 96 NNPC became active. During this time local networks were able to engage the local media that helped to take initiative and prevent VAW in their communities. In 2005 total 501 incidents of VAW was protested by the social volunteers and of those 49 cases were filed in the court. During this time, it was found from the research of Steps that among the different kinds of VAW, domestic violence, dowry and eve teasing are most common which are mostly remain un addressed due to social and family barriers. From 2005 Steps Started to address domestic violence and Eve teasing specially under the issues VAW.
- Steps interventions for combating violence against women was continuing in 2006 in its working areas. Beside this. PNGOs were also replicating the issues at their different areas. Community people along with related local government committees were started to take prompt action against VAW. In 2006, social volunteers were taken Social and legal initiatives in 376 cases of violence against women and in 111 cases Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Commitees/Cells were directly involved to take action and give legal solution.
- VAW issues are addressed in 365 areas (182 in Steps working areas and 183 areas replicated by PNGOs). Community people are started to think positively against VAW specially DV and eve teasing. Different action and initiatives of social actors the traditional mind setup of community people has changed. At 2007 total 333 initiatives were taken against the incidents of VAW and 33 cases filed in the court. Beside this, domestic violence cases were tried to solve by the social negotiation and arbitration. Total 109 cases were mutually solved the social arbitration. In these negotiations and arbitration the social actors groups has played vital and contributory role to ensure women’s rights during judgment. Beside Steps’ working areas, 1472 initiatives were taken against VAW in areas replicated by PNGOs.
Proper marriage registration can help to promote and protect women’s rights in regard to property rights. From very beginning Steps took different initiatives to ensure registration during marriage and women’s right during registration by creating awareness on properly fulfilling the registration from, specially column no 18-20, in which provision of women’s right is depicted.
- In 2003 different advocacy and campaign program was done to increase awareness of social actors regarding to marriage registration
- In 2004 Steps published different advocacy materials (poster, articles, booklet etc) highlighting the need for reforming marriage registration law (1974) to promote and protect women’s human rights. In 2005 those initiatives of Steps became successful as the GoB has reformed the law declaring marriage registration must within 30 days of marriage and strict punishment for not registering the marriage.
- From 2004-2007 marriage registration was 100% in the working areas of Steps.
- 143 marriage registrar has become responsive for ensuring women’s human rights during marriage registration in the working areas of Steps. Beside Steps working areas, 143 and 269 marriage registrar are playing responsive and active role during marriage registration for promoting and protecting women’s human rights in the replicated areas of PNGOs and local administration respectively.
- Enactment of The Birth and Death and death Registration Law 2004
- 58 working areas of Steps and 44 replicating areas of PNGOs have earned 100% birth registrations which ultimately contribute in the national average.
- Number of early marriage and violence against women has been decreased in working areas and replicating areas of PNGOs, which contribute to decelerate the high rate of humiliation of women’s human rights in national level.
- Local administration as collaborative partner of Steps have taken the issues for replicating in other areas. So in absence of Steps, issues for promoting and protecting women’s human rights will be carried on those areas.
- Advocacy of Steps has been able to reform the marriage registration law in 2005 for ensuring women’s human rights.
- To establish an issue or to bring any issue in the mainstreaming, collaborative partnership with different government machineries, civil society group is a strong mechanism.
- For replication of the work or to spread the issues in the wide sphere, alliance with different like – minded organizations of the country helps to.
- Reformation of Uniform family law (equal property rights, uniform marriage registration and divorce law) and Law on violence against women, eve teasing
- Capacity building of the collaborative partners and networking partners so that they can replicate the issues in other areas
- Increase national level advocacy with different ministries, parliamentary government and political parties for considering issues for promoting and protecting women’s human rights
- Advocacy and campaign for proper implementation of the laws related to women’s human right issues
- Increase space for research on women’s rights issues for focusing challenges and obstacles of women in establishing the rights
- Build a strong data bank on information women’s rights related issues for make available the information for all
By working together, different components of local and national governance learn each from other and make them aware about their strengths and weaknesses. This strategy reduces organizational conflicts and mobilizes all sectors of society to work towards achieving any specific goals. With this strategy, since 2003, Steps has been working on women’s human rights, gender equality and good governance.
Beside people’s representatives in the local government, local government institutions, school management committees, marriage registration offices, CSOs/NGOs, health service providers, agricultural service providers were targeted to govern in the way to provide venues in promoting the rights of the women in the light of government policies.
In the period of 2003-2007, Steps, through networking and collaborative partnership, has successfully activated local government committees and other community service providers in promotion and protection of women human rights and also increased women’s participation in decision-making and governance.
- In 2003 Steps formed social actors group in 155 pilot areas which include representatives from different government institutions of Steps are included in social actors groups and they are oriented with program issues. Teachers, marriage registrars, and representatives from local government institutions (Department of Social Services, Department of Women Affairs, Education Office at thana level) Union Parishad members and chairpersons, ward commissioners and network members are made aware on program issues and their institutional roles and responsibilities in protection and promotion of women human rights for gender equality. Partners of the networks have identified gender gaps within their organizations and areas of affirmative action.
- In 2004 Gaps are identified regarding performing roles and responsibilities of the government, local government institutions and local civil society institutions in becoming gender responsive. Dialogue and discussions with local government representatives, officials of local government institutions and civil society representatives were initiated in 149 working areas of Steps to activate local government committees and performing their responsibilities for ensuring promotion and protection of women human rights in their respective localities. Local governments and community service delivery institutions are made active in ensuring birth registration, marriage registration and preventing early marriage and violence against women.
- During 2004, 35 marriage registrars become active and start to take initiative to increase marriage registration and to prevent early marriages. 80% union parishads and ward commissioners were made active in registering births. 252 school management committees were involved in birth registration process and 308 educational institutions were addressing program issues in 149 urban and rural areas under 18 districts.
- In 2005 Local government committees are made responsive to the advocacy, campaign and action on program issues. Measures were taken by Nari Nirjatan Protirodh committees to be more responsive on cases of violence against women. Marriage registrars at the pilot areas have performed their roles more seriously than previous. More than 90% of the Union Parishads took initiatives in ensuring birth registration. Union Parishads and Ward commissioners offices started collecting birth information with own initiatives or with the assistance from health service providers and social actors group. 65% of the Nari Nirjatan Protirodh committees and 90% of the marriage registrars of all 160 pilot areas were made responsive in early marriage and violence against women incidences.
- Service-providers from government, semi-government, and non-government cooperated with the civil society and they expressed their commitment to replicate positive experiences in other areas. In Steps pilot areas, different committees under the union parishads (UPs) like Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committees, Social Development Committees, Education Monitoring Committees, Health Service Monitoring Committees are becoming more and more active to protect and establish women’s rights in their respective localities.
- In 2006, 5 district administration (District Commissioner, District Judge, District Registrar, Additional District Commissioner), 34 Upazila administrators (UNO), 201 local government institutions (Urban and Rural) and 294 marriage registrars and purahits (those who conduct marriages in Hindu community) have signed in the MoU with Steps and local networks to increase birth and marriage registration, prevent early marriage and violence against women through their respective bodies and institutions. [other 4 MoU was signed in 2007]
- During this period a total of 185 union parishads and ward commission offices of local government under 18 districts are taking birth registration promoting activities in their respective unions and wards. Among 185 pilot areas 41 pilot areas (15 wards and 26 unions) have been already declared as 100% birth registered areas with the active initiatives of local governmnet. A total of 183 union-level NNPCs and district-level Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cells (NNPCs) are formed.
- Both government and non-government institutions become collaborative partners with active involvement of civil society representatives as they signed in MoU. Formal partnership with district and central level government administrations has been developed. This collaboration helped them meeting the demand of each other. More than that. National level experts are made involved in implementation and monitoring of gender equity elements in Bangladesh’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Gender sensitive media as influencing factor for gender sensitive governance, Steps has strengthen the Gender and Media Forum with more active participation of media persons and other stakeholders. Initiative is taken for developing gender policies for print and electronic media
- 4 more MoU between the local administration and local networks has singed in 2007. After signing MoU a remarkable change has been achieved. 9 District administration, 65 Upazila administration and 21 municipality admisnitration are replicating the program issues in other areas of the districts.
- Government WID machineries are made active in 7 districts. Gender awareness trainings were organized in sixty districts with participation of 585 government officials. This created scope to initiate further program development across the country.
- In this period Steps conducted a research to find out women’s political thinking from different perspective. This research revealed women’s perceptions and expectations on parliamentary election. It also created venue for increasing women participation in local and national government.
- Responsive and active local governance and service providing committees help to influence national policies for considering women’s human rights.
- Women participation in decision making process of local governance and different committees has been increased due to gender sensitive and responsive local governance.
- Due to the formal partnership with local administration the issues are replicated in different areas other than steps pilot areas. This ultimately helps to establish women’s human rights as a whole.
- Representatives of District and Upazila administration who have signed the MoU may replicate the issues when they transferred to other districts.
- Activate all the WID focal points from districts to Union level
- Activate all the service providers in the replicating areas of PNGOs and local administration
Steps wants to institutionalize the gender concept and ensure continuous dissemination of gender mainstreaming concepts at the national and local level through increasing gender sensitive development organizations. Since 2003 it has been continuing several initiatives to achieve the objectives. These are depicted below
- To increase gender sensitivity and mainstreaming gender within the partner organizations, Steps has initiated a process of identifying gender gaps within the policies of PNGOs through reviewing the policies. In 2003 Steps reviewed and identified gender gaps of 111 PNGOs. Beside this, it has provided 15 trainings to staffs and chiefs of the partner organizations for increasing awareness on gender. Total 157 staffs (139 female, 296 male) of 111 PNGOs have received gender trainings in 2003. Among the staffs there were both senior and junior level staffs.
- In 2004, 70 organizations developed their draft policy from gender perspective. The policies include management, financial, human resource and gender policy. During this period, Steps continuing its training workshops for the chiefs and staffs of the PNGOs for creating gender responsive human resources as well as gender friendly environment within the organizations. Total 218 Staffs (153 female and 371 male) including chiefs, mid level and implementation level staffs had received those trainings in that year.
- In 2005, the PNGOs had moved forward towards mainstreaming the gender. During this period 74 partner organizations addressed gender in their different programs and projects and continuing their efforts for creating gender friendly environment within the organizations. Affirmative action for the women during recruitment and initiatives for increasing women’s participation in policy level was observed in several organizations. In 2005, 65 organizations finalized their organizational policy from gender, while other was under the process of finalization. During this period, total 351 staffs (238 female and 588 male) of PNGOs have received different trainings for enhancing their knowledge and skill regarding to gender concept.
- In 2006, Out of 124 partner organizations, 79 organizations have finalized gender policy with gender sensitive human resource, organizational, management and financial management policies. 45 organizations were in the process of finalizing the gender sensitive policies. Some of these organizations have started to practice the policies within the organizations.
- In 2006, a total 137 staffs (46 female and 91 male) of 115 partner organizations have received gender trainings. Participants of gender trainings were taken from the mid level of the organizations as they can contribute in policy formulation and implementation.
- Partner organizations are replicating gender related issues, concept, strategy and approach at different working areas in their respective programs.
- Number of women in decision making level of partner organizations has been increased in 2006. A total 303 women took part in decision making of organizations in 2006; where as the number was 226 in 2005 and 149 in 2004.
- Partner organizations that have finalized the polices from gender perspective started to practice the policies. In 2007, 34 organizations are practicing their gender sensitive policies. They have considering women’s issues during planning, taken affirmative action to increase woman’s’ participation, ensured maternity leave and time flexibility for lactating mother. Beside this, they have took some positive measures for creating gender sensitive environment, such as separate fresh room for women, breast feeding room for lactating mother etc. In this year 416 staffs (158 female and 258 male) received different trainings.
- PNGOs have replicated gender issues in 143 rural and 40 urban areas under 64 Upazila and 8 municipalities. Stakeholder of different programs of these PNGOs along with the community people of above mentioned areas have got gender concept through these PNGOs.
- Gender sensitive civil society organization has been increased as a whole.
- As the platform of PNGOs (local networks) become the collaborative partners of local administration, they are influencing the central level policy formulation through them
- Through the collaborative partners these gender sensitive PNGOs enforced the administration for implementing the laws related to women’s human rights.
- As the PNGOs started to mainstream gender at their different programs and areas, this will continue even in absence of Steps. This will help to sustain the development.
- Provide technical support to the PNGOs of local networks and collaborative partners.
- Increase monitoring and strengthen the information data bank
Steps believe that to achieve gender equality, government efforts must be supplemented by the efforts of NGOs, civil society, human rights activists. For this, gender mainstreaming at different institutions of government organizations is necessary, which is a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Moreover, gender issues need to be incorporated into the formulation of national policies. For this, a learning collaboration should be developed with the government both at national and local level. These issues require advocacy at national level and campaign for raising awareness at both national and local level. Awareness at government level is also necessary to monitor different efforts of the Government and implementation of different international commitments of GoB. To achieve the objective, Steps has taken different advocacy and campaign programs both at local and national level.
Steps’ intervention in engendering national policies and mechanism
In the way to enhance gender equality, improve the condition and position of women, protect the human rights of women and girls, increase women’s participation in decision making and governance at all level, Steps thought that devoid of gender responsive policy any rights can’t be protected within the state. With the intention to ensure gender responsive policies and mechanism, Steps has set objectives for that and taken systematic efforts for ensuring gender responsive policy and law. Throughout its work Steps has been considering different policies as an instrument for promoting women and men’s equal rights in society namely CEDAW, PFA, PRSP, MDG, NPWA, National budget. By using this instrument Steps’ intervention on capacity building training, development of audio-visual and print material, networking with all level of stakeholders of local, national and regional level, creating awareness and advocating for policy level for creating pressure to Government for implementing gender responsive policy, as well as helping government to formulate and reform gender responsive policy and law.
Strategy for working in engendering national policies and mechanism
Steps belives that concreted effort is essential for demanding rights as well as achieving and exercising rights. This way Steps’ working strategy is to build up networking and develop collective platform for creating space for advocacy with government, and making awareness and disseminating message at diverse level with like minded organizations, groups, development partner, Government, community people, media, civil society, development organization, different tier of local governance and local government etc. alliance building and develop collective platform are the main strategies of Steps to achieve its mission
Through networking with associated organizations and allies group at national and local level Steps develops collective platform for raising voice and demanding rights in a concerted way. Throughout the last five years Steps in the way to build up networking steps has been coordinating a number of platforms like Gender in Media Forum (GIMF), Gender and PRSP Group (GPG), Citizen’s Initiatives on CEDAW, Bangladesh, and sometimes Steps associated itself as a member of other platform like Shamajik Protirodh Committee (Social Action Committee). Each and every platform is working with specific goal that are contributing to ensure gender responsive policies and mechanism. Such as, GIMF is working for ensuring gender responsive media, GPG is working for engendering PRSP, Citizen’s Initiatives on CEDAW, Bangladesh is working for full implementation and withdraw GoB reservations on CEDAW and Shamajik Protirodh Committee is working for enactment of NPWA in line with the demand of women women’s rights activist.
3.7 Steps’ Intervention over the last five years (2003-‘09)
3.7.1. Full implementation and withdrawing GoB reservations on CEDAW
Throughout its journey Steps has taken the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as an instrument for promoting and establishing women rights as Bangladesh ratified CEDAW in 1984 but had reservations on two core provisions that deal with comprehensive legislative changes and equality in marriage and divorce. From the very beginning, Steps had been advocating and lobbying for Bangladesh to withdraw certain reservations to, and fully ratify CEDAW. Steps initiated and took different type of strategy and intervention for implementing and withdrawing reservation on CEDAW.
3.7.2. Year wise initiatives on implementing and withdrawing reservation on CEDAW:
In 2003 Steps Towards Development, Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, have developed and submitted the CEDAW Shadow report as a supplement to Bangladesh’s Fifth Periodical Report prepared by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The shadow report is set out in a format to enable the readers to relate to Bangladesh’s commitments under different ratified articles of the Convention to the committee’s concerns in 1997, key concerns relating to continued forms of discriminations and non- implementation of measures to eliminate discrimination and recommendations for legislation, policy reform and other programs to be undertaken by the public and private sector. In an attempt to make this initiative more effective in national platform, shadow report committee had engaged in a number of discussions with different levels of experts and activist groups from January to November 2003.
In 2004 development and submission of the CEDAW Shadow report to the UN CEDAW committee, along with Ain O Shalish Kendra and Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, was a landmark contribution of Steps for the evaluation of the Government initiatives on CEDAW and Bangladesh. Targeting the UN CEDAW Committee meeting in July 2004 Steps Towards Development (Steps), Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) have finalized the CEDAW Shadow Report Bangladesh and published the report prior to the meeting. Before the meeting the Bangladesh CEDAW Shadow report committee (Steps, ASK and BMP) shared the raising issues of the UN CEDAW committee with representatives of the civil society and government. The committee convened press conference and sharing dialogues to get people’s opinion and influence GoB and policy makers to withdraw reservations from specific CEDAW articles (2 and 16 c).
In 2005 associated with other organizations Steps has taken part in the policy influencing bodies on full implementation and withdrawal reservation CEDAW issues, nationally, regionally and globally through developing and disseminating advocacy and campaign material, initiating campaign and awareness program through steps’ ongoing work.
In 2006 Steps carried out a campaign at national level to protest GoB reservations on CEDAW articles through discussion titled ‘Importance of CEDAW Convention: Status of Bangladesh’, in which women and human rights activists took part. Outputs from the discussion were disseminated to the media. Steps’ representatives also took part in TV discussions where the need for withdrawal of the remaining reservations was strongly recommended. Discussions on CEDAW were organized at Steps’ pilot areas under 13 networks, where representatives from the civil society and media along with various professional groups took part with huge interest. Steps’ these endeavors to enhance the demand by the public and put pressure on the government to withdraw the reservations from CEDAW Articles 2 and 16.1.c.
In 2007 As part of its advocacy initiatives, Steps has been carried out campaign to protest GoB reservations on CEDAW articles. In this regard Steps continued discussion with relevant persons, organizations and through publishing articles on the issue in different national media. Through the initiative, Steps endeavors to enhance demand by the public and put pressure on the government to withdraw the reservations from CEDAW articles 2 and 16.1.c. Steps has played an important role in the lifting of GoB reservations from Articles 13 (a) and 16.1.f. Steps’ representatives along with other actors on CEDAW were invited to discuss with the Advisor to the Ministry of Law and Women and Children Affairs and secretaries of both the ministries. Steps was strengthening advocacy and campaign at local and national level with other actors to raise the voice of the grass root people on the issue.
In order to push the government to formulate policies and reform laws in line with CEDAW, Steps has taken the initiative to bring together the organizations who are committed to implement CEDAW under the banner of ’25th Anniversary Observance Committee of CEDAW’. The platform organized week long programs at national of local level with the object to raise awareness among general people through discussion, campaign, exchange experiences of the organizations and make clear the concepts on CEDAW, and involve national and local media for the implementation of CEDAW for the purpose of full ratification and implementation of CEDAW. The members of platform were committed to civil society’s concerted effort on full ratification and implementation of CEDAW in Bangladesh and agreed to develop alternative report of CEDAW for submitting to UN committee.
Following that Steps arranged a discussion with all national level players of CEDAW to make a concerted effort on CEDAW alternative report preparation. Now under the platform named Citizen’s Imitative on CEDAW, Bangladesh, a total of 38 organizations are working for developing alternative report based on 21 thematic areas. It is mentionable that the platform is developing report by involving their all associated organizations with covering 10 years (1997-2007) of CEDAW progress in Bangladesh.
- Steps played an important role in the lifting of GoB reservations from articles 13 (a) and 16.1.f. GoB reservations from CEDAW articles 13 (a) and 16.1.f have been lifted by a long term demanding of CSOs.
- Inline with the CEDAW document a number of national policies e.g. National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA), Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) document and as well as sectoral polices has been developed.
- A concerted effort on full ratification and implementation of CEDAW is being existed at national to local level by involving CSOs.
- Shadow and alternative report of CEDAW are being developed by civil society platform in a regular manner. It is now a common practice of the CEDAW Committee to use the NGO shadow reports to review the progress made on the elimination of discriminations against women in a specific country.
- Various types of material are available for implementing CEDAW e.g. awareness, advocacy and campaign material, alternative report, analytical report and impact analysis report.
At national level, Steps has been actively doing policy advocacy on is the restoration of the National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA) in its original spirit of 1997 with some amendments and through a consensus of women’s movements and rights groups and activists in Bangladesh. In 2004, amendments to some articles have changed the fundamental language of rights of women though women’s rights thinkers and activists of Bangladesh said that the 1997 policy reflected the goals of the women’s movement and were in tune with the UN CEDAW. But these amendments limit the equal opportunities for women to public decision making. In line with the argument Steps, was one of the first to quickly respond to the undue distortions made in 2004 by the then government in power. Subsequently Steps involved with other organization under the platform named Shamajik Protirodh Committee (Social Action Committee) of 42 organizations leaded by Bangladesh Mahila Parishad to create demand for implementation of NPWA in the spirit of 1997 policy document. Steps has also actively contributed to the revision of the NPWA in light of the original policy document that has been done by the present caretaker government.
Year wise initiatives on implementing of National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA) in the spirit of 1997 policy document:
In 2004, amendments to some articles have changed the fundamental language of rights of women though women’s rights thinkers and activists of Bangladesh said that the 1997 policy reflected the goals of the women’s movement and were in tune with the UN CEDAW. But these amendments limit the equal opportunities for women to public decision making. In line with the argument Steps, was one of the first to quickly respond to the undue distortions made in 2004 by the then government in power.
In 2005, as part of working for implementation of National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA) in the spirit of 1997 policy document, Steps prepared a position paper through comparative analysis between 1997 and 2004 policy documents and identified the gaps and disseminated the paper among related stakeholders for massive campaigning. Steps has been continuing campaigning and advocating to implementing the NPWA in the original spirit of 1997 policy document merged with different initiatives to protest the distortion of the original policy document of 1997. Steps took part in many other campaigns on protest against women’s rights by using this platform and created public concern on that issues for pushing policy planner and law enforce agencies.
[For example, Steps actively took part in a national convention with the Shamajik Protirodh Committee (Social Action Committee) demanding implementation of the NPWA in the original spirit of 1997 policy document. One of the campaigns was against Papia murder case demanding exemplary punishment of the murder. Steps has actively participated in all these movements.]
In 2006, under the banner of Social Action Committee, Steps has continuously been involved in different actions against violence against women issues, fatwa, direct election of women in parliament etc. During this time, apart from organizing national convention demanding implementation of the national women’s advancement policy in the original spirit of 1997 policy document, the platform also carried out other activities.
[Steps published a number of advocacy and campaign materials on the issue in Steps’ journal as well as national media. Steps’ representatives along with other actors on women and human right movement discussed the issue with Advisor of Ministry of Law and Women & Children Affairs and secretaries of both the ministries to ensure their commitment to restore and implement NPWA of 1997. Steps is also continuing advocacy and campaign at local and national level with other actors on raising the voice of the grass root people on this issues. Steps initiated networking at national, regional and global level with various like minded organizations and groups for advocacy.]
- Various types of material are available for implementing NPWA e.g. awareness, advocacy and campaign material, alternative report, analytical and comparative analysis report of NPWA.
- Steps has also actively contributed to the revision of the NPWA in light of the original policy document that has been done by the present caretaker government.
Steps has been taking actions for engendering the PRSP from beginning of the PRSP formulation process. Steps was the first to publish the Bangla version of the PRSP in 2002. Since the introduction of the PRSP (later named as the National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction) in 2005, Steps has been advocating for the inclusion of gender-sensitive policies and strategies in the PRSP.
Year wise initiatives for engendering PRSP
The I-PRSP for Bangladesh was made public in December 2002. In November 2002, after government declaring of I-PRSP Steps organized the first national dialogue on the PRSP and Gender for reviewing IPRSP document from gender perspective. Through the reviewing workshop identified the specific gaps of the document from a gender perspective. Following that Steps published a report on the reviewed findings in 2003. The report has contributed a lot towards enriching the understanding on Gender and PRSP.
In 2002 during formulation of I-PRSP, several civil society organizations (CSOs) including civil society groups, government representatives and think tanks organized themselves to analyze the content as well as the process of formulating the I-PRSP. The LCG-WAGE sub-group decided to have a proper gender analysis of the I-PRSP in order to influence the Joint Staff Assessment of the World Bank and also to have a road map to full PRSP from gender perspective. They analyzed gender gap in the I-PRSP as an input to the process of working towards a full PRSP and to support stakeholders’ participation especially of poor women and women’s organization. Through consultation process the team developed an action plan with roles and responsibilities of the civil society, Government of Bangladesh and the Development Partners. The participants of this consultation process formed the Gender and PRSP Group (GPG) which include CSOs, government agencies and the development partners. Meanwhile Steps have achieved some potential on engendering PRSP and that potential help take coordinating responsibility to Steps.
From 2004 to 2005 the GPG platform brings together sectoral specialists and gender advocates to interact and build consensus and understanding on gender component of the document. Now GPG is an independent collective national platform of the representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Representative of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and Development Partners to work together for engendering PRSP – its process, implementation and monitoring. GPG was formulated in May 2003, as a voluntary group which has contributed in the formulation of PRSP from gender perspective. At present GPG have 38 members of which 11 represent from Civil Society Organizations, 3 from Government of Bangladesh, 10 are from research, academicians and representatives from private sector and 14 from development partners. As of 2003 as a secretariat of GPG platform Steps had been playing a role of catalyst in the whole GPG process and was continuing its initiatives both in local level and national level to claim best output from PRSP Bangladesh through GoB and by GPG.
GPG, with an aim to engender PRSP has been involved with PRSP process. As secretariat of GPG, Steps works closely with GoB thematic groups of PRSP especially with MoWCA, GED of Planning Commission. Steps has developed working relationship with PRSP writers group and working as catalyst to build partnership with GO, NGOs and Private Sector. Besides, Steps is advocating with civil society, media, development partners and private sectors and networking with other sector / issue specific actor groups for influence the PRSP process.
From 2006 to 2007, GPG is implementing and coordinating a project entitled ‘Engendering Bangladesh’s Poverty Reduction Strategy: Supporting formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation’ with the support of The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and The Canadian High Commission.
Under the project GPG has planned various initiatives like reviewing sectoral strategy in the PRSP i.e. Agriculture, Education, Health from gender perspective and three stand alone issues i.e. Violence against Women, Gender and governance, Political participation; developing SMART monitoring indicators in the aforesaid areas; summarizing PRSP and focus areas (Agriculture, Education, Health and three stand alone issues) in Bangla; organizing sharing meeting on PRS and focus areas at National and Divisional level; and have some plan to conduct independent national review, GOB-led review and international DP review of PRS implementation under monitoring initiatives.
Achievements of Steps through GPG platform
- Since the inception of Gender and PRSP Group (GPG) in May 2003, Steps had always played important roles in coordinating the GPG initiatives and provided inputs in formulating the I-PRSP and ultimately the first PRSP from gender perspective. It is accepted by all that the agenda and policy matrix of Women’s Advancement and Rights is the most comprehensive one among all thematic works where members of GPG had visibly important roles and contributions.
- A GPG member and research fellow of BIDS provided input in monitoring indicators to mainstreaming the gender issues in all thematic areas. General Economic Division (GED) after incorporating this feedback have developed and finalized a selected set of monitoring indicators from Annex 3 of NSAPR.
- The Government acknowledged GPG for its contribution on gender issues in the PRSP. As recognition to that in the Policy Matrix on Good Governance (Matrix 18) it emphasized strengthening inter-ministerial linkage with Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and with other institutions including Gender and PRSP Group to achieve the strategic goal i.e, Strengthen institutions for monitoring and evaluation of gender equity issues.
- GPG had a successful sharing meeting and provided inputs to the govt. consultant engaged in developing policy matrix on women’s advancement and rights issues for 2nd PRSP.
- Under analysis and advocacy initiatives GPG through its Secretariat in Steps reviewed the first PRSP from gender perspective in general and 3 stand alone issues in specific, i.e, Violence against women, Women’s political empowerment and Gender and governance. The reviews and their dissemination through National level workshops had been attended by government high officials, ministries, development partners, NGOs and civil society. The events had widely been circulated in media. It is expected that the review reports will help 2nd PRSP policy makers to include the important recommendations as well as repair the gaps and weaknesses remained in the first PRSP on gender issues.
Alongside Steps has been producing audio –visual material as well as developing audio –visual practitioners. As part of that Steps organized video documentary production workshops to develop young and gender responsive audio –visual professionals and produced issue based audio-visual production i.e. documentary, fiction, TV spots, TV program etc.
A total of 29 video productions on BR, MR, VAW, EM, DV, Good governance and women participation in decision making process are available now. A total of 7 female and 15 male are successfully working in av profession and are making gender sensitive AV materials.
3.8.2. year wise initiatives for engendering media
[The Forum, after its launching, made its first achievement by working for the repeal of the slogans of Liver Brothers and Square Cosmetics Ltd.: 8th March PONDS Women’s Day 2004 and Jui Women’s Day for the International Women’s Day 2004. The forum urged the companies to repeal the slogans and change the messages. The slogans reflected a complete disgrace for women presented as promoters of consumer products. The Liver Brothers, after meeting with the Forum members, changed the slogan and made it: Liver Brothers Company Ltd. Celebrating International Women’s Day]
In 2005, GIMF conducted one day media monitoring from gender perspective as part of the Global Media Monitoring Project. Global Media Monitoring Project was the most extensive global research for gender issues in news media. GIMF prepared the Media Monitoring country report of Bangladesh. The report findings showed how women are projected in news items, how women’s views and voices are marginalized in the news media etc. Through GIMF, Steps also played an advocacy role for producing gender sensitive advertisements. In this year Steps produced and showed six documentaries on women’s contributions to national development. The six documentaries were directed by women who graduated from the Videography course of the Audio-Visual Centre, Steps Towards Development. Through these programs, Steps captured the attention of policy makers, development partners, civil society, and the media. Through this endeavor of Steps, the women film directors were recognized and accepted even in such a non-traditional role. The workshop on camera work contributed to a change in the role of women in electronic media. Furthermore, women issues will be addressed more effectively through the production of these filmmakers.
In 2006, Steps has taken a number of initiatives as secretariat of GIMF for engendering media. In this regard WACC has taken a 21-day action program for achieving the objective to proper and equal representation of women and men in Media, as 2005 GMMP’s report showed that women’s voice are marginalized all over the world. As part of this action program, GIMF has prepared, published and launched the Bangladesh country report of GMMP through a national seminar. Through this program GIMF also disseminated the UNESCO plea to all media to commemorate International Women’s Day 2006 by giving women the leading role in media. This declaration got the attention of media planner. In this day, we observed that a number of print and electronic news media were published, broadcasted and lead by women.
In 2007, at national level, with regard to engendering media a number of initiatives were taken during this period. Objectives of these initiatives were to identify/ locate the changes in media over the years especially what and how the issues are coming up in media in relation to women’s right and creating demand for specific need based governmental policy guidelines to enhance public awareness as well as media campaign. During this period under the banner of GIMF, Steps has taken different types of initiatives like; media monitoring from gender perspective, seminar and workshop organizing for sharing experience and learning and advocacy with media for introducing gender sensitive policies.
- Developed good working relationship with national electronic media
- Developed learning collaboration with media institution, civil society and government relevant institution has been established through concerted effort.
- Verities of audio-visual advocacy materials are available at national level.
- A number of audio-visual person are working in media after receiving training from Steps who are aware on gender and human rights issues.
Considering the national budget as an important instrument for ensuring women rights Steps started to carry out advocacy and campaign on gender budgeting since 2006.
Steps thought that there is a need to spell out the concept of ‘gender budgeting’ for creating understanding at citizen as well as policy-making level, as the government, for the first time in Bangladesh, introduced this feature in the budget for FY2006-07. With a view to advocacy with government on that issue in 2006 Steps took a number of initiatives.
[Steps organized a series of dialogues to review the proposed budget from gender perspective with the help of experts, concerned persons and relevant stakeholders; to identify areas of allocations for women and girls; and to put in order a set of recommendations for consideration in the next budgets. The main strategy of the dialogues was to disseminate findings of the analyses to as many people as possible through different printing and electronic media to create awareness and generate public discussion/debate on the concept of gender budgeting. It was held in the dialogues that gender budgeting is an essential tool to ensure women’s equal rights with men and that the participation of various sections of people including women should be guaranteed in the formulation and implementation of the concept. Through these dialogues (on education, health, agriculture, local government, and violence against women), Steps now has developed good understanding on the issue and linkage with resource persons in a wide range of areas. A comprehensive report has been published on the series of dialogues and disseminated in relevant sector including government.]
In 2007, considering its previous years’ experience Steps thought that pre budget workshop is as necessary as post budget review. Considering the necessity in 2007 Steps organized a pre-budget seminar and media campaign. Following of those recommendations of the seminar were disseminated to Government. After budget declaration Steps reviewed the budget and find government considered some points in the budget, for example allocation of allowance for lactating mother and increased allocation in different safety net program for women
Enactment of birth and death registration law
Enactment of birth and death registration law by LGED and Law ministry of Bangladesh, Steps played a significant role. Firstly we have shared our experience of piloting with UNICEF, Plan Bangladesh, and Bangladesh National Women Lawyer’s Association (BNWLA). In Bangladesh, UNICEF has experience of implementing government projects, Plan International have some piloting projects in regard to birth registration and BNWLA has the capacity and technical support to law implementation. Then we have prepared position paper and with the help of this instrument mobilized, campaigned and advocated to enforce the Government in the enactment of this law. In formulation process of the Birth and Death Registration Law 2004 Steps has also provided intellectual inputs as a member of the platform, through developing different awareness and advocacy materials and organizing programs.
Governance of Steps
Structure of the Organization
Steps Towards Development has a General Body and an Executive Committee heading the organization. The General Body, which is comprised of representatives from civil society and development partners, decides the policy direction of the organization and approves the changes by ratifying amendments in its constitution. The Executive Committee, which is composed from the General Body members serves as the policy making body. Program operations of Steps are carried out by the component staff that are properly selected and placed in the right positions.
The General Body is made up of bona fide members of Steps Towards Development. Any Bangladeshi citizen who is directly involved with development activities is eligible for membership, provided s/he qualifies.
Members of the general body can contribute to the proper development of the organization. As indicated in the constitution, the General Body approves the following matters:
- Revision/Amendment of the Constitution of Steps Towards Development
- Annual activity report
- Annual financial report and budget
- Recruitment of auditor
The Executive Committee is elected from the General Body. There are seven members of the committee, and they elect their own officers. The Executive Committee is the final policy and decision-making body of the organization. It provides support in the proper management of the organization. It is the final authority for Steps Towards Development. The Executive Director carries out decisions made by the committee.
As the policy-making body of the organization, the EC adopts the gender policies pertinent to the organizational structure both internally and with its partners as follows:
- To ensure women’s active participation at all decision-making committees of the organization and give value to their opinions.
- To distribute the responsibilities considering equality and equity among female and male staffs.
- To ensure management’s sincerity regarding women’s active participation at all levels of the organization.
- The organization has to increase women’s participation in different activities as well as provide assistance to female staffs (as per needs) considering their reproductive role.
- Establish a focal point within the organization and ensure a supporting environment for women at operational level.
- Focal point will organize regular basis sharing meeting with all staff to strengthen the engendering process in the organization.
- Disseminate and promote the above-mentioned activities to all partner organizations as examples of good organizational practice on gender mainstreaming.
General management of the Steps Towards Development operates through a two-tiered structure. The Central Management Team (CMT) is at the helm of overall program implementation. The Program Management Team (PMT) ensures effective administration of activities. With Steps Towards Development getting recognized as a leader in advocacy for gender equality, its respective centers and components are headed by qualified Directors and Coordinators who perform gender-sensitive managerial functions.
Central Management Team (CMT)
The Central Management Team (CMT) is the planning, monitoring and decision-making body for all program and human resource management-related issues. It consists of all line directors in the program implementation authority. The CMT meets at least once a month to approve the project implementation policy, methodology, and action plan. All centers and components are responsible to the CMT, and the CMT is responsible to the Executive Committee (EC). The CMT is coordinated by the Executive Director.
Program Management Team (PMT)
The Program Management Team consists of all line directors, coordinators and program officers. It is entrusted with the responsibility for program coordination and decision making on issues related to direct program activities and functions. The PMT is also responsible for preparing the Action Plan and Review of programs and projects and develop quarterly reports. PMT meetings are scheduled on a regular frequency.
Accountability and transparency
With the organization’s mandate is on gender equality, human rights and good governance, Steps Towards Development takes full responsibility and accountability of the program implementation. Through partnership with networks and individual social activists, sharing of responsibility and accountability is clearly reflected in the agreements with the respective partners. Steps has developed policies that elaborate the tasks and responsibility of the organization towards realization of its mission.
To reflect the practice of gender equality, senior management and network partner organizations are encouraged to ensure gender balance in all committees and decision-making forums. Women are to be consulted equally with men in matters referring to community issues. An open-line communication channel is maintained between Steps (through DWIN) and the partners for effective program implementation and efficient coordination of the activities.
Mandates on Gender Equality, Human Rights and Good Governance
As an organization that promotes gender equality, Steps Towards Development has formally institutionalized policies that promote fair treatment in all its endeavors. The following commitments reflect the mandate of Steps pertinent to gender, human rights and governance:
- To establish concrete tools and guidelines that can be adapted to all aspects of Steps programming.
- To create gender-sensitivity and commitment to gender equity throughout the organization. Equity includes equality of opportunity in areas such as employment, education, training and decision making bodies.
- To achieve gender equity within the organization; in the Executive Committee (EC), among the staff and in all decision-making processes.
- To share and exchange gender-related information and experience amongst the staff of Steps.
- To increase the skills and capabilities of all Steps’ staff and its network partners to undertake gender sensitive programs and projects.
- To develop a common understanding of gender issues, approaches and expectations within Steps and its partner networks.
- To address human rights and governance issues through a gender lens, and with exercise of the principles of Transparency and Accountability, Participation and Non-Discrimination.
Steps is working with 125 local NGOs through 15 local networks for promoting gender equality, good governance and human rights with a vision of enhancing and strengthening local development initiatives to ensure community participation for equitable and sustainable development. All the partner organizations are the members of the networks. Commonly all the networks have two committees for program management, coordination and implementation. These are
- General Committee: Chiefs of partner organizations of network are the member of general committee. All types of decisions are taken and approved by the general committee.
- Executive Committee: Members of Executive committee are elected by the members of the general committee. This committee is responsible for taking instant decisions on urgent issues. Afterwards all decisions are shared in general committee.
- Women’s Participation in Network Governance: Steps is working to mainstream gender issues throughout the country through local networks. All networks consider the gender issues very sensitively and practice them within the network governance. Both quantitative and qualitative participation of women in decision making has increased. In 2006, a total of 16 women have participated in 13 networks. Female members of both the general and EC committee have taken effective part in planning, decision making, monitoring and coordination of program activities. In those networks that have no female PNGO chiefs, there is an option to include female members from the second line.
- Anti-sexual harassment stand: Networks are committed to take zero tolerance stand in any case of sexual harassment within the partner organizations. Complaints of sexual harassment should be reported in writing to the network and an investigation both from network and Steps will be conducted. If the investigation proved the complaint, that organization will be excluded from network immediately.
- Accountability and transparency: On behalf of network, the representatives (president /secretary/position declared by network body) are responsible for managing and coordinating the activities of the networks. Decisions taken are shared and approved by all the members of the networks. Members are also the monitoring authority of the network staffs. At the beginning of the year action plan and budget is shared and approved by all the members of the networks. The signatory of network is fully responsible for the financial statement of network and accountable to Steps and GAD Alliance for utilizing the network funds. In case of financial corruption of any partner organizations, network has the authority to sack the organization.
Governance: Partner Organizations
Steps works with local non-government organizations through partnership approach with an ideology of gender equality and learning collaboration. At present 79 partner organizations out of 124 have gender sensitive HR, management and financial policies including an individual gender policy and 45 organizations are in the process to finalize these policies. These organizations are now considering gender issues to encourage and promote female staffs of the organizations. Most organizations are now addressing gender issues in preparing their action plan and different programs. These organizations have started taking initiatives to make aware all staffs from gender perspective, maximize the maternity leave, recruit more female staffs and include female members in policy and decision making positions. These organizations have taken zero tolerance stands in case of any incidents of sexual harassment within the organizations.
Human Resource and administration of Steps (2003-2007)
HR & Admin runs its activities as per the Human Resource Management Policy Manual of Steps. This policy manual constitutes a set of policies and guidelines for effective Human Resource Management and Human Resource Development. Employees of Steps are treated, developed, and compensated equally and fairly. Moreover, as an organisation that is committed to promote and protect women’s rights, establish good governance and social justice, Steps Towards Development has provisions that promote gender equality. Programme Operations of Steps Towards Development is carried out by competent staff who have been properly selected and placed within defined positions.
Consistent with the gender mandate of Steps, the following policies apply:
- Organizational Policy
- Human Resource Management policy
- Financial Management policy
- Gender Policy
Steps maintains a gender conscious and gender-fair regard for all its personnel. Each and every staff is ensured fair treatment and equal opportunities for career growth.
Staffs are expected to be familiar with the values, mission, objectives, and corporate culture of the organisation.
At present in central office total 66 staffs are working. Among them 57 are working as regular staff, 4 are working as Contract/ Part Time Employees/Volunteers and 5 are working as Advisor and Consultants.
In 15 networks total 52 staffs are working. All HR & administrative work of networks (GDRC) are performed as per policies of Steps and these are monitored by HR & Admin component of central office.
HR & Admin component has provided support to all the major events of Steps as well as its regular component activities such as,
- Staff development: Steps make arrangements for the development of the staff whenever it is deemed necessary.
- Staffs leave, attendance and movement: Staffs leave, attendance and movement are well documented and reports are also prepared based on this.
- Recruitment & Selection: Recruitment is the first process to filling up employment vacancies in an organisation. Policies exist to streamline the process of recruitment & Selection and ensure hiring of qualified individuals. Procedures are followed as per the HR policy. During exit of any staff exit procedure is also followed.
Recruitment and Exit Status (2003 to 2007)
In recruitment Steps always tried to emphasis on women’s recruitment as per its policy. Some times it took affirmative action for recruiting female employees, such flexible academic qualification and experiences etc.
In exit status number of female employees is high than the male employees. The analsysis and observation exposed that most of the female employees who leave the organization as they have got better opportunity. In staffs development Steps tried to give opportunity to female employees for increasing their knowledge and skill. This action may the reason for higher exit of female staffs.
- Personnel Files and Records: Personal file of every staff are maintained properly and updated accordingly with relevant papers/ documents.
- Staff Profile: It was the big achievement of this component for 2007 that profile of each existing regular staff has been prepared.
- Performance appraisal: Performance appraisal had been done in every year from 2003 to 2009.
- Admin support: As a part of admin support activities Staff meetings are regularly arranged and Meeting Arrangement, Publication Dissemination Internal and external program support were provided.
- Store management: As per office requirement every month Stationeries were purchased according to the purchase procedure and supplied as per components needs and reports were also prepared. For stationeries supply sheet registrar has regularly maintained and documented.
- Material management/procurement: Capital Assets, Vehicle Spare parts, Computer /accessories, furniture & fixtures and other assets were purchased as per purchase procedure through purchase committee of Steps. For all sorts of assets we regularly maintain Assets Register Book.
PART – 4
Utilization the fund (collecting from different donor’s organizations)
Financial Strength (2003-2009)
Steps Towards Development (Steps) is getting support from the Royal Netherlands Embassy (RNE), Dhaka and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for implementing its core program. Manusher Janno Fundation (MJF) and Oxfam-GB, Bangladesh are supporting projects of Steps to extend its activities at field level to meet the present needs. In addition to these Steps is also generating fund from training, expertise sharing such as IEC (Information, Education and Communication) materials (Printing and Audio Visual) development and sale of those audio-visual and printing materials as own income. Steps are contributing this fund for implementing its regular program as well as organizational sustainability.
Fund Received and Expenditure (2003-2009)
|Particular||Core Program||Project Support||Own Income||Total|
4.1. Funds Received
Steps has been received total Taka. 268,452,100 as grants for the core program & project support and own income for the period from 2003 to 2007.
Core Program (2003 – 2009)
|Program Name||Supported by||Taka||%|
|Protection and promotion of women’s human rights with emphasis on women’s participation in decision–making and governance including combating violence against women||RNE||105,890,815||65|
|Project supported by||Taka||%|
|Manusher Janno Foundation||30,357,254||66|
|Oxfam – GB, Bangladesh||15,492,181||34|
The organization has generated fund through training, expertise sharing, selling developed audio-visual and printing materials, Steps support to projects and bank interest.
|Expertise Sharing and Sales of materials||44,577,806||73|
|Steps, Network and PNGOs’ support to projects||14,746,922||24|
Total expenditure of Steps for the period is Taka. 246,739,184 for its core program, project support and cost of own income for the period from 2003 to 2009.
Core program (2003 – 2009)
Steps total expenditures and its share of the core program are as follows:
|Protection and promotion of women’s human rights with emphasis on women’s participation in decision–making and governance including combating violence against women||RNE||109,766,667||61|
|Steps -Own income||15,834,696||9|
Project Support Activities (2003 – 2009)
Expenditure details of project support activities are given below:
|Project supported by||Taka||%|
|Manusher Janno Foundation||28,983,452||60|
|Oxfam – GB, Bangladesh||16,297,360||33|
|Steps – own income||3,421,914||7|
|Project supported by||Taka||%|
|Contribution to Core program & project support||19,256,610||50|
|Cost for Income Generation||19,378,969||50|
Steps has the financial manual.
According to the manual
- Receive money from the donor and it could be foreign currency (every project or donor like Embassy of Netherlands (EKN) has the won mother account under the authorized by steps).
- Need requisition to collect the money (obviously approved)
- After collecting put into the voucher (before payment need to be also approved by Finance Director and also Executive Director of steps)
- Maintain Scroll, Check Issue Register, Cash Book, Receive Register
- Finally posting it in the software (name Peach Tree)
- Audited by ACNABIN
Over the last 5 (five) years Steps has been seen increasing of demand for its services and also increase of its reputation. UN Agencies, Government ministries, International & national NGO’s Universities & other educational institutes and individuals have contracted for specialized training, audio-visual and print materials from Steps. This demand is hugely significant and indicates a potential for Steps own income. In 2003 Steps received Taka 3.04 million from its own income and in 2009 this amount is increased to Taka 12.75 million. Positive growths of Steps own income will ensure the target contribution to the program as well as ensure the financial sustainability of the organization.
Steps is expanding its program area with the support of Development Partners, PNGOs and Community day by day. Development Partners contributed Taka 208.1 million in 2003-2009@ 41.6 million per year, whereas Taka 8.5 million was contributed in 2001. Besides the development partners, PNGOs and Community are also contributing in the programs and project activities. During 2003-2009 PNGOs and community has contributed in cash Taka 85.9 million. But they are also contributing in non cash forms that are not accounted. As a result total expenditure that is shown is less than actual expenditure. Steps could implement the program activities cost effectively as Community and PNGOs owns the program.
As well as steps contributes social development and poverty reduction also. Steps has a big network and they can understand people and also feel by using this network and they make a good link through this network from heart to heart. Any one can expose a single message steps can bring it easily to the remote area’s people. That’s the spirit of steps.
- Finance Manual.
- NGO Beaureau
· Government financial report
- Articles of Steps Towards Development
- Unnayan Podokkep (Magazine)
- Web site: www.stepsbd.com
· Audit report of Donor organization
- Annual Report of Steps 2008-2009
- Daily Star.
- Report of different components
- PNGO report
List of Terms used in the Report
- Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS),
- Millennium Development Goal (MDG)
- Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- National Policy for Women’s Advancement (NPWA)
- Centre for Development Training (CDT),
- Audio-Visual (AV) Center
- Gender and Development Communication Component (GDCC)
- Gender and Development Resource Center (GDRC)
- Gender and Development (GAD) Alliance
- Local Trainers’ Groups (LTGs)
- Collective Platforms of Women Activists (WAs)
- Collective Platforms of Student Volunteers (SVs)
- Gender and PRSP Group (GPG)
- Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committee (NNPC),
- VAW (Violence Against Women)
- DWIN (Development of Working Initiatives through Network)
- PRSP (Poverty Reduction and Strategic Paper)
- MDG ( Millennium Development Goal )