Helvetas facilitates women’s political empowerment in local governance processes. The Aparajita project enhances the capacities of elected and potential women representatives, facilitating space for inclusion of disadvantaged women, and engaging with male community elites, political party leaders and local government representatives.
The status of women in Bangladesh has significantly improved over the past years, particularly in terms of health and education, but a lot remain to be done to address existing gender inequality in political and economic spheres. At present women are highly under-represented in local government institutions and there is still a long way ahead for them to engage as citizens or potential representatives in democratic processes and political debates. This is moreover influenced by prevailing social norms and patriarchal attitudes that reinforce a political sphere that is mainly dominated by men.
Through the Aparajita project, Helvetas supports an alliance of five partners organizations working in 16 Districts, 62 Sub-Districts and 541 Unions to engage with potential and elected women representatives and male members of their families and local communities, as well as with other influential persons and local institutions that support the inclusion of women in local political life and act as a driver of change. In addition, the project works on improving the policy and legal framework and gives special attention to hindering and enabling factors at national levels that will accelerate political empowerment of women.
Capacity development, gender sensitization and advocacy are the foundations of this project. Aparajita Forums serve as a platform for women representatives who self-advocate at sub-national levels. These channels support politically interested women and supportive men working both as a support system and united voice.
The project is a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) mandate implemented by Helvetas.