A Learning Sharing Event on ‘Experiences of Social Accountability and Prospects in Pro-poor Service Delivery’was held on 13 March 2017 at DPHE Conference Room. The event was organized by NGO Forum and supported by Manusher Jonno Foundation. Mr. Md. Manzurul Hannan, Director General, Department of Agricultural Extension, graced the event as the Chief Guest, Mr. Mahesh Chandro Roy, Director (Joint Secretary), Directorate of Primary Education, Ministry of Primary & Educationand Dr. Md. Faruk Ahmed Bhuiyan, Line Director, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare were present as the Special Guests; while Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) chaired the event.
It is mentionable that NGO Forum has been implementing a project titled ‘Sensitizing the Pro-poor Service Promotion Securing Rights and Governance (SPSRG)’ since October 2014 with the support of Manusher Jonno Foundation. The project mainly works for creating access of poor and marginalized groups to public services by promoting accountability of the duty bearers through using different social accountability tools i.e Community Score Card, Social Audit, Citizens’ Charter, Public Hearing, Participatory Selection Process (VGD beneficiary) etc. Through the project initiatives i.e networking, collaboration and interface between service providers and service recipients it has helped to promote social accountability and increase responsiveness from service providers’ end.
Speakers yesterday underscored the need for creating awareness about government's legal aid services among insolvent people and victims so that none is deprived of legal assistance, a constitutional right.
Pointing out that a huge amount of government funds returns unused every year, they said the money would be utilised if people were aware of the services that included appointing lawyers, legal counselling, and mediation.
They were addressing a discussion titled "Partnership of Manusher Jonno Foundation in Quality Enhancement of Government Legal Aid Services: Success, Potential and Experience", organised jointly by National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) in the capital's Cirdap auditorium.
Law Minister Anisul Huq said after the Union Parishad elections, the ministry would hold meetings with all elected union chairmen and members to make them aware of the legal aid services.
He also underscored the need for collective initiatives and effective enforcement of law to change people's mindset in filing false cases; otherwise the practice would result in doubling the case backlog in the country.
“In many instances, it is seen that cases are filed to harass. It does not matter what would it result; cases are filed to make one visit the court and instil a fear of imprisonment,” he said.
“I want to come out of that bad culture.”
The minister said, “If we can't come out of the evil practice, then the case backlog, which is now 30 lakh, will be 60 lakh. To reduce it to 15 lakh, we must get rid of this practice.”
Saying that filing of false cases is punishable by law, he said if the law was enforced more effectively, people's mindset would be changed.
Registrar General of the Supreme Court Syed Aminul Islam called upon people not to see legal aid services as a charity.
“Getting legal aid is a constitutional right of the insolvent people, and the government is constitutionally bound to provide the service,” he said.
He requested legal aid officers in every district who would mediate disputes at pre-case and post-case level.
He also urged the government to take necessary steps so that people in jail could talk to their lawyers to get legal aid, which is not practiced currently.
Law professor of Dhaka University Shahnaz Huda said the concept of legal aid should be spread to the grassroots level so that poor, underprivileged people and rape and acid victims could seek help.
They also unveiled a book "Legal Aid System in Bangladesh and International Context", written by Senior Judicial Magistrate Jasim Uddin.
The official said there were misconceptions among people about legal aid, and he addressed that in his book.
Executive Director of MJF Shaheen Anam said in many districts, there were no legal aid services, MJF was working in those districts to address the problem.
She said MJF was ready to cooperate with the government in constructive works.
Programme Coordinator of MJF Ruma Sultana highlighted the works done by the organisation in different districts.
She said MJF had carried out different activities to make the legal aid service committees active in 110 unions, 35 upazilas, and 17 districts.
In addition, MJF has held workshops to encourage panel lawyers, she added.
Joint Secretary (admin) of Law and Justice Division Bikash Kumar Saha presided over the discussion.
With the support from the UK and Australian government, Bangladesh has undertaken a programme titled Strengthening Government Social Protection for the Poor (SGSP) for reforming the country’s social protection system by enhancing its transparency and accountability. The programme will run from 2013 to 2017. Ministry of Finance and six other line ministries, and UNDP, WFP, WB and MJF are partners in the project.
National Forum for Social Protection (NFSP), has been formed to gather views of the beneficiaries about the effectiveness and impact of social safety and make policy recommendations to the government in order to improve its social protection programs. It is comprised of 44 individuals and organizations working on social protection issues.
National Forum for Social Protection was formally launched yesterday, Tuesday, at Hotel Lakeshore in Dhaka. State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Ms. Meher Afroze Chumki, MP was present as Chief Guest. Social Welfare Joint Secretary Nurul Kabir Siddique, Director General of Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Mohammad Abdul Wazed and Country Representative of DFID- Bangladesh Sarah Cooke were present as special guests. Co- Convener, NFSP and Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation Shaheen Anam chaired the programme.
In her address Chief Guest State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Ms. Meher Afroze Chumki MP said, frequent incidence of natural disaster, effects of climate change, political unrest and extensive unemployment rate continue to push people to severe vulnerabilities. In facing these challenges, social protection has been adopted as one of the major strategies for poverty reduction in Bangladesh. I hope that the extreme poor and the vulnerable can potentially lift themselves out of poverty with appropriately designed short to medium-term supports. The extreme dependent poor, who are old, disabled or chronically sick, will depend on long-term social protection to survive.
Special Guest Sarah Cooke said, “By gathering the views of the people it is intended to benefit and presenting those views to policy makers, the National Forum for Social Protection will play an important role in making Bangladesh’s social protection system work better for the poor.’’
Shaheen Anam said Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) is implementing the Civil Society component of SGSP, which to gather opinions of the poor people and feed it to policy level. NFSP is a national level citizens’ platform comprised of both individuals and organizations involved in social protection programs in indifferent capacities. Representatives of the local social protection forums are also the members of the national forum.
The civil society component of the program will be implemented by Manusher Jonno Foundation, a non-governmental organization which will get feedback from the poor on the reach, effectiveness and impact of different social protection schemes and use the evidence to improve governance in the sector. The project intends to initiate local level grievance mechanism on social protection services and bring grass root evidences, voice and opinions to the relevant authorities and national policy formulators as well.
Bangladesh spends around 2% of its GDP for social protection purpose; in FY 2013-14, Government spent Tk. 267 billion that reached to around 77 million peoplei through 100 (approx.) different projects. Improvements in terms of more accountability, transparency and proper targeting in the social protection schemes will increase proper utilization of the huge revenue funds that government is spending on it.
The Daily Star and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) will jointly organize a roundtable discussion titled “Highlighting Contribution of Women to Raise their Status” on September 10, 2014 as detailed above.
The objective of the roundtable is to build consensus among key stakeholders about the importance of evaluating women’s contribution and giving them the recognition they deserve.
In Bangladesh the contribution of women and their role in nation building has not been evaluated properly so far. Most of their work remains unaccounted for and therefore women do not get the respect and importance they should. Their most notable contribution which is still unrecognized is their work in the agriculture sector. Some study shows that if all of women’s work were accounted for then our GDP would be much higher.
Manusher Jonno Foundation, a national NGO working on women’s rights has started a campaign with 122 partner organizations titled “Morjaday gori Samata” (Equality through Dignity) to change society’s attitude towards women and see them in a more positive light by highlighting women’s contribution to nation building. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to reduce violence and discrimination against them.
MJF is providing legal Aid, health including psychosocial counseling, skilled training and social reintegration support at safe home from 2008-2014. Upon successful completion Social Welfare Ministry allowed MJF to implement the program at eight safe homes from 2014-2016. In pursuance of this Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between MJF and Department of Social Service on Ensuring effective, quality and sustainable services of existing safe home on 31, August, 2014 to implement the program for next two years. Director General of Department of Social Services and Executive Director of MJF signed the MOU on behalf of respective organizations. Safe home is an interim accommodation for women victim and witness.
There are many achievement of safe home program:
"Bridging the gap: Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” with this theme Manusher Jonno Foundation and its partners’ organization celebrated International day for world Indigenous peoples this year at Bangla Academy premises, Dhaka. Two-day long program was organized, which includes an indigenous fair, photo exhibition and seminars. The main event was inaugurated by Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Chairman of CHT Regional Council, while Mr. Mr. Rashed Khan Menon MP Honorable Ministers for Civil Aviation & Tourism join the program as the Chief guest and Advocate Sultana Kamal Executive Director of Ain-O- Salish Kendra, former Advisor to the Caretaker government as the special guest.. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of MJF chaired the opening ceremony. The guests visited different stalls of fair and appreciated the participation of indigenous people from remote areas of the country.
Seminar on the history of anti Jum cultivation campaign in Bangladesh and political economics:
A Seminar on the above title was held on 9th August 2014 at Bangla Academy auditorium. Mr. Prashanta Tripura, anthropologist and researcher presented the key note paper. Among others, Professor Mesbah kamal, University of Dhaka, Mr. Pavel Partha, Researcher, Ms. Abonti Harun, Assistant Professor, University of Liberal Arts, Mr. Juam Liam Amlai, President, CHT forest and land rights and reserve Andolon were present the seminar as discussants. Dr. Shamim Imam, Director, MJF moderated the seminar.
Seminar on "Contribution of unrecognized works of women in Chittagong Hill Tracts: Conceptualization, Impact and Prospect"
A seminar on MJF’s ongoing study titled "Contribution of unrecognized works of women in Chittagong Hill Tracts: Conceptualization, Impact and Prospect" was held on 10 August at same venue. Dr. Ainoon Nahar, Professor of Anthropology Jahangirnagar University, the researcher of this study presented the key note paper. MJF’s Executive Director Shaheen Anam moderated the seminar and Ms. Tuku Talukder, Executive Director of Himawanti, Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment, Integrated Development, BRAC, Prof Naseem Akhter Hussain, the Government and Politics department of Jahangirnagar University and Mr.Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary from Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples' Forum were join the seminar as discussants.
Indigenous Fair: Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) and its associate organizations arranged the fair. A total of33 Indigenous organization, from CHT and plain land and other national level NGOs participated in the fair. They displayed products used in their daily life which includes indigenous handicrafts, ornaments, foods and products from Jum cultivation. The fair attracted lots of visitors, which includes indigenous and nonindigenous people of the city.
Photo Exhibition on CHT accord: A remarkable photographic exhibition focusing on the “Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord” held at Bangla Academy premises. Some rare photographs of CHT accord, collected by Mr. Zhantu Chakma was displayed at the exhibition
Cultural event: A colorful cultural event was held in afternoon of 10 August at the Bangla Academy premise where the artists of different indigenous groups performed.
Signature campaign: A signature campaign was held at the fair premises to protest the violence against women and indigenous people killing in CHT and recent rape incidence on a plain land indigenous woman.
A coordination meeting of Chittagong Hill Tracts partner organizations was held on 17-19 June 2014 at the conference room of “Bangladesh Tea resort”, Srimangal, Sylhet. Executive Directors and project Coordinators of sixteen partner and nine sub partner organizations, Director, Coordinator PM and DPM of CHT program-MJF participated at this meeting.
• To discuss the progress of current project activities and financial management issues
• To share the online reporting system and guideline
• To discuss about partners’ role and responsibility in `Equality through Dignity campaign and International indigenous day program
• To discuss about income tracking system for livelihood program and Future planning on MLE
All the Dhaka Based partners of Child Portfolio organized a vast program jointly to celebrate the Child Labor Elimination Day. More than 400 working children took part in this event, held on 16 June, 2014. The program went very well. The human chain, Art Competition and cultural events were very organized and effective. All the guests and children enjoyed the program.
A roundtable discussion on “Land Digitalization: Prospect for Land Equality in Bangladesh” was held at Azimur Rahman Conference Hall of The Daily Star Bhaban on 29 April, jointly organized by Manusher Jonno Foundation, Uttaran and CARE. With the EU's financial support, the government is implementing the project in three upazilas -- Jamalpur Sadar, Manoharpur of Rajshahi and Amtoli of Barguna. Under the project, Khas land will be recovered after a digitised land survey in the upazilas. Then the land will be given to landless people. All land owners will receive a certificate from the land office. In most countries, people get all landrelated services, including that for land records and registrations, from a single office. But in Bangladesh, three offices provide the services, causing hassles to people. Land Minister Shamsur Rahman Sherif, who was present as the chief guest, said the government will go tough on land grabbers and corruption in the sector to ensure land rights of the marginal people. He said land grabbers are very powerful, and urged the civil society and non-government organizations to extend support to the government. Speaking as the special guest, Abdul Mannan, director general at the directorate of land records and survey, said land-related cases take years to resolve. Referring to his own experience, Mannan said his land-related case has been going on in court over the last 16 years. Indigenous people, Hindus, women, and owners of small plots of land are the worst sufferers and deprived of services at land offices. Around 2.5 crore land-related cases remain pending with the country's courts, and it will take about 2.7 crore years to settle those if the case proceedings continue at the current pace, according to eminent economist Prof Abul Barakat. “The land issue is a highly political one. The problems will not go away even if the land digitalization project is implemented,” Barakat, Professor of Economics at Dhaka University, said at a round-table discussion. Philippe Jacques, head of cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh, said the land digitalization project is very crucial for Bangladesh, and they intend to expand their involvement in the land reform project. Sanjeeb Drong, secretary general of Bangladesh Forum for Indigenous People, described how indigenous people are deprived of land rights despite the government commitments to protecting their rights. Shamsul Alam, national project director of Strengthening Access to Land and Property Rights for All Citizens of Bangladesh, presented the key features of the pilot project. The project will help protect the land rights of marginal people. Shahidul Haque, director of Uttaran, gave a presentation on the Sustainable Access to Land Equality project that promotes digitalization of land records and survey in Bangladesh. Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, chaired the discussion.
The incidents of child rape in the country nearly doubled in the last year
compared to those of the previous year, finds a report of Manusher
The report titled "Bangladesh Child Rights Situation-2013
"Moreover sexual harassment of children is also on the rise," said
Abdullah Al Mamun, programme coordinator of MJF, while presenting
the report at a press conference at the National Press Club on 3
2014. "Of the 24 children, who fell victim to attempted rape, 19 received
severe injuries. Another 183 children were sexually harassed and 136 of
them were injured and two died while trying to save themselves from the
perpetrator," he said.
"The tradition of early marriage prevents us from considering a minor
girl as a child," said Shahnaz Huda, governing board member of the MJF
and chairperson of Dhaka University's Law Department.
She held this perception of the society as a key reason behind the child
rape incidents. "We need to change our social and individual perception
of a girl," she observed.
A campaign, “Morjadai Gori Somota”
Inaugurating the campaign website www.shomanshoman.org.bd and
declaring it open at the Osmani Memorial Hall, President Abdul Hamid
said, “Time has come to change our perception of women's work and
their contributions. Otherwise, we can't prevent discrimination and
violence against women.“