Almost each day these days, I wake up and make my way to the makeshift camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, the site of the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis of recent times. Life in these settlements is brutal- I see the struggles of the women, men and children who have recently arrived, most exhausted and traumatised.
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.
We face tremendous problems keeping girls in school as they transition through adolescence. In Sierra Leone, 30 per cent of reported rapes take place in the school environment, and a recent ruling banned 'visibly pregnant' girls from school. When the school itself becomes a hostile setting, it should come as no surprise that dropout rates shoot up.
Since its inception in 1972, BRAC has been all about empowering women. Efforts to improve gender relations within the organisation itself resulted in the gender quality action learning programme and ‘mon khule kotha bola’, a forum where all staff members, especially women, could share their opinions with the management. BRAC Gender Justice and Diversity has always been quick to respond to programme participants with questions about issues of violence, sexual harassment and women’s health. The following is an example of one such case received from a BRAC school student.
To create a more fluid space in the classroom, where learning is not hierarchical, lessons on sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender (SRHRG) and psychosocial counselling are designed to be more art and activity-centric at SSCOPE schools. These schools are designed by the Institute of Educational Development of BRAC University to address the high level of dropout at secondary schools.