Performance of The Steps In The Social Development Sector In Bangladesh
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)
Law reform and enforcement/implementation
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
Campaign and policy advocacy
Women’s participation in decision-making process
Prevent early marriage
Reduce violence against women including domestic violence and eve teasing
Domains of Intervention
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
A national platform of Steps and 13 local networks at 18 districts working for a democratic and just society ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men. GAD Alliance develops social actors to promote gender equality, human rights and good governance and creates example at local and national level. It includes a total of 13 collective platforms of CSOs covering 18 districts and 47 sub-districts, in which 122 CSOs (female-headed 27, male-headed 95) are associated as local partner organizations. Main features of these collective platforms of the Alliance are:
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
A total of 11994 social actors (female-6603, male-5391) under 182 collective platforms are:
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)
At present, a total of 191 LTGs (female-66, male-125) are working to enhance skill and capacity of different social actors. By the year 2006, 79 out of the 122 organizations have developed gender policies and most of them have developed action plans to translate the policies into actions. LTGs have also developed a monitoring mechanism to see changes at organizational level. Some LTGs are also working as social volunteers as GCAs.
Collective Platforms of Women Activists (WAs)
A total of 5319 women are actively involved with the local networks and partner organizations at 182 working areas. They are taking part in
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)
A total of 2332 SVs (female- 1286, male- 1046) are disseminating information and messages through different school-based programs and door-to-door campaign to stop early marriage and violence against women.
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)
For engendering the Bangladesh Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and supporting its formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, a group of 66 (44 individuals and 12 organizations) has been working for the last couple of years (formally since 2006). The group is strongly shedding a light on women’s issues and concerns in different sectors (e.g. health, education, agriculture, local government etc.) under the PRS. GPG interventions have been able to hit on gender and women rights issues in drafting the poverty reduction strategy and different sectoral plans of action. Steps is using PRSP as an important instrument for implementing the program and policy advocacy e.g. Full ratification of CEDAW and implementation of 1997 national women’s advancement policy, equal property rights
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
A national alliance of 42 organizations to promote and protect women’s human rights, protest incidents of violence against women. Steps regularly takes part in the collective movements initiated by this committee e.g. on the implementation of the National Women’s Advancement Policy of 1997. The organization, in association with the Social Action Committee, protested the distortion of the policy in 2004 and is actively demanding restoration the 1997 policy.
Steps is an active campaigner of CEDAW. It is one of the 38 members of a national committee to implement CEDAW in full in Bangladesh. Steps has been using CEDAW as an important instrument for implementing program, policy advocacy and law reform. (Example: PRSP, media and sectoral policies and laws on equal property rights and uniform marriage registration and divorce law.)
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
Social Actors of Steps have signed MoU with 9 districts and 65 sub-districts level government administrations as collaborative partners to stop early marriage and violence against women and ensure birth registration. The GoB officials include District Commissioner, District Education, Agriculture, Health Officers and Jatiyo Mahila Shamity at 9 districts and Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Thana Education Officer, Thana Health Officer and Agriculture Officer at 65 sub-districts. District and sub-district administrations are working as a supportive force of the civil society at local level, helping policy in practice and implementing the laws at local level, reform of laws (e.g. Uniform family law, law on eve teasing and domestic violence and compulsory birth registration).
Collaborative Partnership with Local Govt.
Steps’ working areas spread over 5 City Corporations, 15 Municipalities and 81 wards (urban) and 101 unions (rural areas). The local government administrations at the working areas like District Commissioner Office, Thana Nibahi Office as well as different committees (e.g. Social Development Committee, Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committee) are now more active to increase birth registration, decrease early marriage and combat violence against women.
Collaborative Partnership with Service-providers
With an aim of increasing gender-sensitive service-providers, Steps Towards Development has developed strong linkage with local service-providers like schools, kazi offices, health centers. Representatives of these service-providers regularly join our initiatives and are becoming more and more responsive towards upholding women’s human rights in their respective spheres.
Part – 3
Contribute by Steps in social development sectors in Bangladesh
Achievements against Objectives
Through working with the community platforms, Steps has developed a learning collaboration between the community and service-providers, which is contributing to increase their responsive regarding citizens rights and service providing responsibilities. This has helped bring about some striking changes, which match in achieving Steps’ program objectives. Some of those are mentioned below.
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.
Gradual changes regarding to this objectives
In 2003Steps 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
3.3 The promotion and protection of women’s human rights
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 objectivepromotion 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
Increase Birth Registration
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.
Increasing marriage registration
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.
Contribution of this objective in national level
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
Increase responsiveness of urban and rural governance
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.
Contribution in national level
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
Increase gender sensitive development organization
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 thesePNGOs along with the community people of above mentioned areas have got gender concept through these PNGOs.
Contribution in notational level
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
3.6. Develop learning collaboration with Government of Bangladesh to ensure gender responsive policies and mechanism.
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 s