Living in Dhaka is a challenge, no matter who you are. Traffic is manic, there are motorcyclists cruising the footpaths and people are forced to walk on the streets. There are no designated bus lanes and no bus stops. The roads are home to everything and everyone. Buses, cars, rickshaws, CNGs and people coexist in a situation where anything can happen at any time.
In the last decade, disasters have cost the global economy USD 520 billion and pushed 26 million people into poverty. Certain groups, such as people with disabilities, have historically been disproportionately affected by natural hazards.
Mitali Dhar loves her bike. She has travelled far and wide on her two-wheeler. It has not always been met with respect - she was pushed off her bike once during a visit many years ago to a remote spot in Sylhet. “ I sat beside the tube well and cleaned myself up, wept and went straight back to the office,” says Mitali.
In a world that can sometimes feel like it was made purely for men, the mother of two's work has earned her the title of a ‘Joyeeta’, the national platform that recognises women from all backgrounds for dedication towards social progress.
There are campaigns and movements across the world dedicated to raising awareness of violence against women. But beyond raising awareness, what actual action takes place? What are the tangible effects?
There is one thing we need to understand clearly: patriarchy is an enemy to both men and women. Men need to be saved from patriarchy just as much as women. If we are able to defeat patriarchy, both women and men will gain.
“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.