Asia Foundation Bangladesh workshop

Reducing violence against women through religious leaders

The Asia Foundation Bangladesh, with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), organized project-closing workshop on “Reducing Violence against Women through Religious Leaders in Rangpur” initiative on Tuesday at Baridhara in the capital featuring 60 participants from Rangpur and Dhaka, and discussants from University of Dhaka, BRAC University and Development Research Initiative (DRI).

08To address this issues, The Asia Foundation (the Foundation) initiated a project on Reducing Violence against Women (RVAW) in Rangpur Sadar, Gangachara, and Taraganj upazilas of Rangpur district in 2013 to supported efforts of Muslim scholars to ensure social justice for women, with a focus on violence against women and raise public awareness within their communities to encourage positive change of behavior in their communities. The Foundation supported the development of a training handbook and outreach materials, which were used to train 476 imams, 79 madrassah teachers, and 475 imams’ wives on violence against women prevention. These individuals then held 5,965 weekly khutbas (sermons), 6,861 courtyard meetings, and 12,972 other outreach activities, to reach over 110,000 community members each month between December 2013 and March 2015.

Mr. Greg Wilcock, the High Commissioner of Australian High Commission toBangladesh, attended the event and made remarks as the Chief Guest. The Australian High Commissioner mentioned how Australia has been supporting initiatives that foster women empowerment and ensure women’s integration in mainstream economy of Bangladesh. By appreciating the fact that the ready-made garments of Bangladesh, which are mostly made by women, are now exported to Australia, the Australian High Commissioner strongly encouraged to engage more women in economy so that our society can receive more deliverables.

Hasan Mazumdar, Country Representative, Sara Taylor, Deputy Country Representative, and Nazrul Islam, Director, Faith and Development Program, The Asia Foundation Bangladesh attended the event along with participants. During the event, The Asia Foundation commissioned consulting firm, Development Research Initiative (DRI) shared disclosed the key findings of the end-of-project evaluation of “Reducing Violence against Women through Religious Leaders in Rangpur” initiative, and also share the challenges to address this burning issue through religious leaders.

For more than a decade, The Asia Foundation has supported a pioneering effort to promote social justice in Bangladesh by involving influential religious leaders as social change agents along with government and non-government organizations. The Foundation supported training of 26,000 plus religious leaders to build trust in support of development initiatives, such as health services, modern agricultural approaches, women’s rights, democratic governance, and interfaith relationship building.

About The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation. In addition, our Books for Asia and professional exchanges are among the ways we encourage Asia’s continued development as a peaceful, just, and thriving region of the world. Headquartered in San Francisco,

The Asia Foundation works through a network of offices in 18 Asian countries and in Washington, DC. Working with public and private partners, the Foundation receives funding from a diverse group of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, foundations, corporations, and individuals.