The Bangladesh Sunamganj Community Based Resource Management Project of LGED has been awarded one of the first Gender Awards by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). This award is in recognition of the project’s outstanding achievements in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of rural women.
The announcement of the award came on the heels of the International Day for Rural Women, observed on 15 October each year. In each of the five regions where IFAD operates, the award showcases a programme or project with an innovative approach to addressing gender inequalities. This year the awards went to five IFAD-supported operations in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Sudan and Uganda.
The Sunamganj project, which is implemented by the Local Government’s Engineering Depar-tment, aims to sustainably improve the livelihoods and quality of life of poor women and men living in one of the poorest districts of Bangladesh. Women’s participation in the project has been a priority, with a focus on development of infrastructure, fisheries, and crop and livestock production, as well as on microfinance and institutional support.
The award committee took into account the innovative aspects of the project, especially the Labour Contracting Societies, where poor women and men form groups and take up infrastructure work, receiving daily wages, as well as profits as contractors. The nearly 20,000 women members of the Labour Contracting Societies receive the same wages and benefits as their male counterparts. Over 70 per cent of them have taken on leadership roles, giving them the opportunity to be fully involved in community decision-making.
First-hand reports received from the participating women indicate that they have used their earnings to start income-generating activities and further enhance their livelihoods. The project also has involved women in fisheries and water body (beel) management, a task traditionally reserved for men. The project is now at an advanced stage, with completion expected in 2014. Many of the women participants have been reporting that they are playing a greater role in family decision-making, particularly the decision to use their earnings on children’s education and other important family requirements.
“The award reflects what we have actively pursued in the project and at the Local Government’s Engineering Department: promoting a more gender-balanced, equitable development path,” said Mohammad Wahidur Rahman, Chief Engineer of the Department.
“Winning the award is a great honour and a big encouragement for us to continue our work on gender equality and to empower rural women.”
It is to be mentioned that IFAD launched the Gender Awards this year in line with its gender policy, adopted in 2012 to guide the institution’s work on closing gender gap and improving the economic and social status of rural women.
In each of the five regions where IFAD implements 256 programmes and projects, the award spotlights a programme or project that has taken an innovative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. The first round of awards went to operations funded by IFAD in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Sudan and Uganda.
It is of course a matter of great pleasure and pride that IFAD first Gender Award 2013 honoured SCBRMP-LGED, Bangladesh for its outstanding achievement in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Bangladesh.