Women remain among the most vulnerable and disempowered groups in Bangladesh. Cultural practices such as early marriage, polygamy, dowry, female seclusion, and arbitrary (oral) divorce contribute to women's subordinate status; while religion has been used to sanction these practices. Lack of awareness of their rights coupled with deeply rooted gender inequalities seriously constrains women's access to appropriate, gender-sensitive justice. NU thus works to empower women and promote their effective participation in Shalish procedures and other community decision-making processes and activities.

Provisions and Strategies

  • Leadership capacity-building of grassroots women's group leaders, including elected women members of the union council
  • Enhancing effective participation of women leaders in the local development committees as well as social activities, including participation in community mediation
  • Initiating women's group meetings to develop awareness of legal and human rights
  • Monitoring Shalish procedures to ensure the enforcement of women's rights
  • Extending the provision of legal aid to women
  • Establishment of a network between the elected women representatives and women's groups/leaders

Impacts and Achievements

  • Increased number of women leaders at community level and increased status of women in social decision-making process
  • Increased number of women receiving legal aid; frequently for the first time
  • Increased confidence and attendance of women in Shalish and awareness-raising workshops and programmes
  • Attendance at community level women's rights meetings by elected representatives
  • NU's facilitation of annual grassroots level Bangladeshi women leaders' conferences in NU project areas
  • Women at community level now organize and manage a regular newsletter called Narir Shopno patha (Women's Dream Pages)