© Helvetas/K M Asad

The journey of the Aparajitas

The project about women's empowerment and political representation in Bangladesh has ended. Here are some key results.
04. July 2024
© Helvetas/K M Asad

When some ‘Aparajitas’ were recently asked: “How do you define yourself?”, they answered boldly: “Undefeated, invincible, unified, empowered, and free”. These incredible grassroots women are among the over 9,000 across Bangladesh who have participated in the third and final phase of the program: “Aparajita: Political Empowerment of Women”, supported by Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

In this last phase (2018-2024), implemented by Helvetas in partnership with four national NGOs: Democracywatch, Khan Foundation, PRIP Trust, and Rupantar, the program worked in 540 Unions constituting 62 Upazilas (sub-districts) from 16 districts located in 6 out of 8 administrative divisions of the country, to strengthen women’s participation in local political institutions.   

The participants who have come to proudly identify themselves with the project name Aparajita, which in Bangla connotes an undefeated and resilient woman, embarked on an extraordinary journey to reinforce their leadership within their communities and gain better political representation.

The project had three objectives: to boost the effective participation of women in local elections; to gain the support of influentials, men and local institutions to the inclusion of women in local political life; and to accelerate the empowerment of women by improving the policy and legal framework.

Here are some key results:

  • Since 2016 Aparajitas’ participation in local governance and decision-making processes has increased by 60%.
  • The number of women who contested for reserved seats increased by 21% while that of Aparajitas deciding to contest a general seat jumped from 37 to 103.
  • Support from Aparajitas’ families doubled.
  • Aparajitas contributed directly to improving good governance, because of their commitment to addressing community needs, enhancing participation, and access to information.
  • Over 600 networks of Aparajitas have been formed to continue advocating for better women’s representation in politics.

Read more about the results and the key insights in the CapEx document: “Aparajita: Women’s Participation in Local Governance and Political Empowerment in Bangladesh”.