DIALOGUE FOR CHANGE
PLATFORMS FOR DIALOGUE QUARTERLY HIGHLIGHTS
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DPFs Celebrate International Women's Day
Preventing gender bias and discrimination requires a collective effort to address gender-based inequalities and actively break stereotypes. For International Women’s Day (IWD) this year, our District Policy Forums (DPFs) honoured the day with rallies and discussion meetings to promote awareness of gender-related issues like reducing discrimination and promoting gender equality.
Events were held in Bagerhat, Bandarban, Brahmanbaria, Jamalpur, Kishoreganj, Kushtia, Moulvibazar, Munshiganj, Natore, Panchagarh, and Patuakhali. Most DPFs hosted only discussion meetings, however, some also engaged the greater community with a cultural event or rally. During the discussion meetings, many important local government representatives were in attendance, including District Commissioners, District Administrators, representatives from the Department of Women’s Affairs, Deputy Directors of Local Government offices, local Members of Parliament as well as students, journalists, teachers, activists, CSO representatives, lawyers, and more. In total, 726 people attended these events, including 399 females.
Together, these communities addressed important gender issues including access to technology for women and girls, inclusion and diverse representation, employment opportunities for women, stopping child marriage, and breaking gender-based stereotypes. The DPFs also presented a keynote paper and presented recommendations like ensuring women’s safety in the workplace, taking proper initiatives to stop child marriage, implementing laws to prevent violence against women, and taking the necessary steps to increase female participation in democratic processes.
Many DPF discussions led to community pledges, including being more mindful of and respecting women’s perspectives both at home and in the workplace, stopping child marriage, providing better education for girls, giving equal opportunity in workplaces, etc. The DPF discussion platforms provide a valuable space for change-makers to gather, share ideas, and plan their next steps, and it is clear that they are committed to advancing gender equality.
“Gender equality is not being ensured enough. We should start this initiative in our family, in educational institutions, workplaces, in society etc.” - Bagerhat DPF President, Babul Sardar
“The present government has been implementing massive programmes to prevent all kinds of violence against women, along with establishing women’s rights, promoting education for them, and empowering women to establish gender equality.” - Chief Guest and female MP from Patuakhali, Kazi Kaniz Sultana
DFP Activities: Policy Dialogues and Social Accountability Tool Trainings
Throughout the quarter, P4D’s District Policy Forums (DPFs) have been implementing several activities to finalise their action plans for the coming 6 months. In February, after completing policy dialogues with their respective local government authorities including Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and other government officials, seven DPFs organised review meetings and subsequent events to follow up on decisions and commitments made in the policy dialogue events. These districts include Bagerhat, Patuakhali, Moulvibazar, Nilphamari, Panchagarh, Kushtia, and Munshiganj. Selected civil society members were present at the events, including representatives from many of P4D’s partner civil society organisations.
In March and April, several DPFs held social accountability tool trainings for civil society leaders. These trainings were arranged online in Bandarban and Munshiganj in March, and in Brahmanbaria, Moulvibazar, and Kishoreganj in April. The objective of these trainings was to improve civil society leaders’ knowledge and understanding of the tools and encourage them to promote and use social accountability tools more frequently. Thirty civil society leaders from each district participated in each training, which were delivered by P4D’s PD and DPD.
NILG Holds Social Accountability Tool Training for Pourashava Representatives
P4D and NILG accomplished 17 batches of social accountability tools training with Pourashava (municipality) representatives on improving accountability mechanisms in Bangladesh in March and April 2022. NILG trained 115 Pourashavas from 11 districts, including Jamalpur, Munshiganj, Netrokona, Gopalganj, Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria, Feni, Bandarban, Natore, Pabna, and Rajshahi. A total of 233 local government representatives participated, 21% of whom were female.
The participants were newly elected representatives, and this was their first formal capacity-building training led by the NILG. The participants were grateful for the training and some of the participants expressed interest in attending a refresher workshop on the SATs in person.
All of the SAT trainings with the NILG have been facilitated by resource persons from the Cabinet Division and the NILG. P4D PD, Ayesha Akhter, Joint Secretary, Cabinet Division, participated in each training and led the session on the National Integrity Strategy. The participants were encouraged by her presentation and reflected on their commitment to anti-corruption and good governance. The Grievance Redress System session was facilitated by Md. Mokhlessur Rahman, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Division and P4D APD. The remaining sessions on the Citizen’s Charter and Right to Information were conducted by NILG resource persons. The DG of NILG, Saleh Ahmed Mujaffor, inaugurated each of the 17 trainings, and Arsen Stepanyan, P4D Team Lead, joined each session as a special guest.
P4D Launches 5th Social Awareness Raising Campaign
Following International Women’s Day, P4D launched its 5th social awareness-raising campaign to promote the key social accountability tools to the public online. The campaign will re-introduce the four key SATs and relay information on the what, how, and why of each tool, and continue to focus on citizens’ civic duty to engage with social accountability policies. By running boosted posts in Bangla in our working districts, we anticipate increased public engagement with the campaign and hope to receive positive feedback from our new content, including four short animation videos (mini-PSAs) on the SA tools. To date, the campaign has already covered the Right to Information (RTI) and Citizen’s Charter (CC), with each campaign section reaching over 3.1 million unique users on Facebook. This campaign is scheduled to end in early June. Key takeaways from this campaign along with analysis from the ongoing Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perspectives (KAP) Survey, will be used to develop a robust social awareness-raising strategy for the final project period.
BCSAA Completes its Final Trainings
BCSAA completed its final three training batches in February 2022. With this, the BCSAA completed their contract deliverables and provided trainings to 404 mid and senior-level government officials including 106 female and 298 male civil servants. BCSAA plans to organise a face-to-face final reflection session with a representative group from all ten batches in June 2022. The target group included national/ministry-level officials.
BCSAA Rector, Mominur Rashid Amin, informed P4D staff that they are working with the Civil Service College (CSC) from the UK to conduct a needs assessment and explore future cooperation opportunities. P4D Team Lead, Arsen Stepanyan, will follow up to explore a possible partnership with CSC now that such cooperation and support is possible with fewer Covid-related restrictions.
BPATC Begins District-Level Workshops
In February, the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC) started implementing district-level workshops. Between February and April 2022, the BPATC organised 5 training batches in 5 districts (Moulvibazar, Brahmanbaria, Kishoreganj, Kushtia, and Munshiganj) on the social accountability tools. In total, they have trained 228 district-level civil servants.
NIMC Continues Journalist Trainings on Strategic Communication
This quarter, the NIMC conducted eight trainings for district-level journalists. By doing so, the institution has completed all scheduled 21 district-level journalist trainings, with the last of these trainings held in Nilphamari this April.
Additionally, the NIMC had requested to run additional activities without incurring a budget increase to include two trainings for female journalists and four trainings for audio (radio) broadcasters. This amendment to the NIMC’s work began with two 2-day trainings for female journalists with 60 participants from different project districts. Subsequently, two trainings for audio broadcasters from Bangladesh Betar and community radios were held online, with 60 broadcasters at each session. The remaining two training sessions are planned to be held in May, with one session will be held in person in Bandarban.
P4D Project Extension
In May, the European Union Delegation and the Government of Bangladesh (represented by the Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance) agreed to amend the Financing Agreement of the Platforms for Dialogue project and extend its implementation period until June 2023. The extension of the project, which corresponds to the government’s next fiscal year, will aim to 1) advance national-level policy dialogues, 2) successfully implement Result Area 3 activities to support evidence-based policymaking, and 3) ensure the sustainability of the project results. All other components of the project that have achieved their intended targets will be phased out after June 2022. A detailed workplan of the extension will be presented for Project Implementation Committee’s approval during the next quarter.
GRS Operations Support
With technical support from P4D, the Cabinet Division successfully merged the GRS system with the National Data Centre (NDC) Server to ensure assimilation with the national ICT infrastructure. Technical support continues to monitor that all features are working.
Additionally, the Cabinet Division started trainings for the GRS focal points in March 2022, and 50 GRS focal points took part in three training batches. The first was conducted from 6-7 March, the second from 30-31 March, and the third from 3-4 April 2022.
Learning Review Report
In early February 2022, P4D conducted a learning review exercise to gather experiences while implementing activities during Year 5 of the project. The findings are based on responses from an online survey, in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions with P4D personnel. The results show that despite being heavily impacted by the COVID pandemic, the key partnerships of the project-governmental-donor remain strong, and trust between government and CSOs at the local and district level has increased. There were challenges due to several key staffing changes at the institutional level, but quick and broad upskilling of people, particularly in ICT, and most notably among training institute partners, helped to mitigate lasting issues. The learning review helped retrieve lessons learned (what worked well and what did not), including short and long-term recommendations to inform the remainder of the project. This report was included in the recent annual reporting for the European Union, and the project leadership is working to improve project activity outcomes based on the key takeaways.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Platforms for Dialogue and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.