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December 20, 2020

How to confront COVID-19’s cost to girls

If we have to prioritise one thing, it should be ensuring that girls do not go back to despair, teenage motherhood, and premature death. Girls must have the chance to flourish and pursue a bright future in spite of COVID-19.

Girls are profoundly impacted by the pandemic in multiple ways: by the economic effects on their families and the resulting food insecurity, by the increase in domestic violence and child marriage, or by the closing of schools, among other factors.

In Bangladesh, for instance, research by the Power and Participation Research Centre and the BRAC Institute of Governance and …

December 20, 2020

A shoulder to lean on: How coaching enables success in poverty graduation

For those who have had the opportunity to attend school, play a sport, or have a close-knit family, one might not even realise it, but coaching and mentorship is a regular part of generating success in many aspects of daily life. Thinking back to primary school, they might have helped us win a race or pass an exam.

It is with these similar techniques that coaching is central to the success and long-term growth of the over two million participants of BRAC’s Graduation programmes around the globe. In BRAC’s Graduation approach, coaching is an integral component that cuts across …

December 20, 2020

An innovation fund for the RMG sector

The RMG industry is also known for something else: creating meaningful employment opportunities for women since the 1970s, when the industry was at a nascent stage.

But something has changed over the years. A recent Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics study tells us that the industry, which always, quite rightly so, had the image of a women-first sector, for the first time, now employs more men than women.

According to the study, 53.82% male workers occupy jobs in the RMG sector compared to 46.18% female workers. This has been attributed to lack of training facilities, skill and proper knowledge of …

December 11, 2020

A study on accessible healthcare in Bangladesh: Challenges to overcome

Rights and requirements of people with disabilities are neglected while planning, designing and building different healthcare facilities, leaving them unable to access the services available, amplifying their vulnerability, and negatively affecting health and wellbeing.

Some of the major barriers to accessing healthcare services for people living with disabilities include:

  • Physical barriers related to poor architectural design of health facilities
  • Inadequate knowledge, skills and sensitisation of healthcare providers
  • Barriers to accessing information and difficulty communicating their needs

The Centre of Excellence for Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University …

December 10, 2020

30 ways BRAC prevents violence against women and children in Bangladesh

Reporting crime is arduous and unpredictable for many Bangladeshis, due to stigma, lengthy processes and backlogs. The COVID-19 lockdown made it even more difficult, yet, a 24% increase in cases of violence against women was recorded by BRAC Community Empowerment Programme in 2020.

30,842 incidents of violence against women were reported to BRAC’s legal aid clinics in 2019, from January to September. Even with restricted mobility caused by the lockdown, limited operating hours and services, 25,607 cases of violence against women were filed at BRAC’s legal aid clinics from January to September this year. Members of BRAC’s polli shomaj (community-driven

November 19, 2020

Aquaculture for nutrition: Innovations from North Bengal

Aquaculture is mostly unheard of in North Bengal, where harsh droughts and unreliable rainfall add to high poverty rates. That is why when Asma Begum decided to invest the last of her late husband’s savings to transform her pond for fish farming, her neighbours were in awe.

Asma was struggling to make ends meet. Her husband had passed away from terminal illness two years back and she had no means of earning. Asma had lost the confidence that she would be able to give her two sons enough food and education.

After learning that the small pond in her …

October 19, 2020

Stepping up hand hygiene: How to make hand hygiene more accessible and inclusive

Evidence shows that regular and thorough handwashing can lead to better health outcomes for all, and organisations have been working for years to promote this key behaviour globally. Despite that, the habit of handwashing with soap still remains unpracticed across many contexts.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, global health experts stressed the importance of handwashing with soap and how it can help prevent the transmission of diseases across communities. However, research has shown that over one billion people – almost half of whom are children – lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home. A majority …

October 18, 2020

Building resilience amidst growing food insecurity crisis

The public health impact of COVID-19 has been devastating, taking the lives of over one million people globally. As time passes, the global community is becoming increasingly concerned about the next crisis: the economic disaster of COVID-19. Lockdowns in low to lower-middle income countries are causing massive shocks to already fragile economies.

According to new data by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme, COVID-19 threatens to push 47 million more women and girls into poverty by the end of 2020, which could unravel years of progress in working to eradicate poverty and accomplish Sustainable Development Goal 1

October 18, 2020

Study explores COVID-19 impact on the lives of garment workers

“The global supply chain is detrimental to workers’ rights”, remarked Dr Sanchita Banerjee Saxena while presenting findings of a new study on Bangladeshi garment workers in a webinar “Covid-19 experience: Workers’ perspective” on 30 September 2020. The webinar was organised by Mapped in Bangladesh (MiB) project of Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED), BRAC University. The project has also recently developed a digital map of the export-oriented ready-made garment factories in Bangladesh to encourage transparency and accountability in the sector.

Dr Saxena, the executive director of the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at the University of California, …

October 13, 2020

Snapshot: 30 ways BRAC supports girl children

Girl children often discontinue education when they are married early, because of peer pressure from their new in-laws and lack of time, as a result of being occupied with domestic duties such as household chores and raising children. 1.7 million girl students and women received services through the BRAC Education Programme in 2019, including 377,290 girl students enrolled in BRAC schools. 6,776 girl students successfully passed the primary education completion examinations with a pass rate of 99.56.

Girl children are often unaware of their rights because they often have limited access to legal information. 115,785 girls and women attended …

October 13, 2020

How do we get more people to wash hands?

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Meena became a national icon for children across Bangladesh but it is easy to remember how. Among other things, Meena taught a generation of children the importance of handwashing to fight transmissible diseases, and likely nudged a number of them to pick up healthy handwashing habits.

It has been estimated that routine handwashing with soap can prevent a million deaths yearly. In 2015 alone, globally more than 300,000 children below the age of five died from diarrhoeal infections, an occurrence that could have been prevented by practicing handwashing with soap. Handwashing can help

September 29, 2020

Building resilience in the midst of ensuing chaos in the Philippines

When Jenalyn Dizon, a mother of five, joined the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Graduation Pilot in 2018, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and technical assistance from BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI), she was not prepared to overcome the severe disruption and devastation that would be brought about by COVID-19. Yet, two years after the pilot started, when the lockdowns and travel restrictions were enforced to prevent further spread of COVID-19, and the survival of her family and neighbours were put at great risk, Jenalyn was able to withstand the shock.

In …