Seven years on from Rana Plaza, Bangladesh's garment sector faces unprecedented challenges that will fiercely test its resilience. Can COVID-19 serve as a catalyst for a more responsible fashion industry?
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.
Although the amended Children Act 2013 has been in effect in Bangladesh for almost a year now, key actors in charge of juvenile justice (ie, police officers, sub-inspectors, lawyers and judges) still lack clear understanding of child rights laws. Moreover, juvenile development centres continue to operate at less than full capacity due to a lack of coordination. This means that children are still being sent to adult jails.
Nothing draws an audience faster than a good story. The best stories transport the listener to a new perspective, down a journey of twists and turns, moments of despair, and of course, triumph. What better way to start to untangle the complexities of scaling social impact in the context of South Asia than to focus on the stories of organisations that have made it there? Theories are great, but without deep grounding in experiences and practice, they often have little application.
To help make the case for including justice and the rule of law as a goal in the post-2015 global development agenda, I was in New York from 24 to 28 September to participate in a number of events. Of these, there were three major events which bear a special mention.
There’s rising momentum in the world today for legal empowerment of the poor. There’s growing recognition that the law need to work for everyone, rich and poor, and that without full legal rights, including access to legal services, a legal identity and property rights, billions will be denied the opportunities they need to lift themselves out of poverty and end systems of discrimination and exploitation.
An innovative approach to legal and human rights education targeting grassroots communities across Bangladesh was recently developed by BRAC’s Human Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS) programme. This effort is steered by BRAC’s continuous journey to improve its existing services and ensure positive impact on human development activities.
Faustina Pereira, director of BRAC human rights and legal aid services, poignantly puts the focus where it needs to be.
She says - "we are dealing with a sector that directly touches the lives and livelihoods of millions of individuals and their families, and directly contributes to lifting them out of abject poverty," and that "We should go beyond nomenclature that alienates the players who should be [held] to account."
The fashion and garments industry of Bangladesh, employing the largest labour force, has become a national pride. A huge fraction of the labour force is women, which has brought about a revolutionary change in the concept of women’s empowerment and economic independence. But a few of the recent garments and fashion house fire incidents have changed this whole notion of national pride into death traps.
Below is an article written by Akhila Kolisetty on her blog Justice for All. Akhila recently graduated from Northwestern University and now works in D.C. for a civil rights law firm which uses litigation to advocate for the rights of racial minorities, the disabled, immigrants, refugees, prisoners & the indigent. You can read her original article here. Thanks Akhila!Lately, I have been researching legal aid organizations around the world to learn more about other access to justice models that provide effective legal assistance to the poor. Thankfully, I stumbled upon the gem that is BRAC: who knew they had a ‘legal empowerment‘ arm?
he chorus serves as a beacon as we follow a narrow, undulating path, flanked by very meager but clean huts. As it opens up into a clearing we behold a colorful tableau of brightly dressed women sitting in a circle dutifully reciting the legal dictates that gives them access to justice. This is one of BRAC's Human Rights and Legal Education (HRLE) Classes.