“The root of much abuse is child marriage. It has taken a considerable amount of time for people to understand that, and many souls have suffered unimaginably as a result. There is definitely greater awareness now, but it did not happen easily. We must continue to make sure no one allows it to happen.”
Five of us from the MBA programme of University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, volunteered to join BRAC for an academic consulting project this April. We were fortunate to work on the Integrated Land Services Office (ILSO), an initiative of the organisation’sHuman Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS). The four-week immersive visit allowed us to participate and draw lessons from the amazing work they do and the social impact they create at scale.
The practice of child marriage adversely affects the lives of millions of girls in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, nearly one in every two girls is married before reaching their 18th birthday. The situation is worse in Bangladesh where two out of every three women aged between 20 and 24 marry young.
On this World Refugee Day, people all over the world will affirm their commitment to humanity, from the global to the local level. Refugees are the most vulnerable people on earth and experience every suffering that is possible. Perhaps the greatest pain is that they left a home behind and have no land to call their own.
Jazirah Namukose, 18, left school feeling the sting of rejection. Classmates discriminated against her because of her disability- a clubfoot. But her life changed when she started going to the Kikaaya girls’ club in northern Kampala, Uganda. She gained skills and the confidence to start her own business- and found friends who didn’t treat her differently because of her disability.
Women in the workplace make sense. According to the World Economic Forum, companies with a strong track record of gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have higher earnings than their peers. The Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on their boards significantly outperform the others.
Waiting at an airport on my way home from a trip to Malaysia, a man walked up to me hesitantly and asked if I could help him fill out his immigration card. He was a Bangladeshi man in his mid-40s. While filling out his documents, we started talking and I learned that he was on a migrant worker’s visa and used to be a chef at a resort. When I asked him if he was headed home for a vacation, he informed me with a stoic expression that he was being deported for being Hepatitis B positive.
Two out of three Bangladeshi women are forced to deal with some form of violence during their lifetime. This can be domestic violence, rape, acid attacks, trTwo out of three Bangladeshi women are forced to deal with some form of violence during their lifetime. This can be domestic violence, rape, acid attacks, trafficking or sexual harassment, these being the most prominent forms. If you are a woman, chances are you, or someone you know have already faced harassment or some other form of violence.afficking or sexual harassment, these being the most prominent forms. If you are a woman, chances are you, or someone you know have already faced harassment or some other form of violence.
“I am not sure if I can repay more loans, and I don’t want to be overburdened by debt.” That was how Noyon, a small grocery shop owner with a physical disability, replied when BRAC asked whether he would like to take a loan to expand his business.
Jannat is not your typical microfinance client. Like an increasing number of BRAC’s microfinance clients, she is not a member of a women-only savings and borrowing group, and did not take a loan to set up a micro-enterprise. Instead, her and her husband are part of new sphere of microfinance clients that is starting to catch on - migrant workers.