Workshop on “Gender in Research and Organisational Excellence” held
Gender in Research and Organisational Excellence TTI RM7 01


It is necessary to look beyond a uni-dimensional definition of gender and examine the implications of other socio-economic factors (caste, ethnicity, marital status, etc.) on the gender equity discourse. Finding gender disaggregated data is problematic. These data gaps need to be filled so that gender equity issues can be reflected in policy interventions. Significant challenges are faced during data collection on gender violence issues which need to be overcomed. These observations were made at a day-long workshop titled “Gender in Research and Organisational Excellence” held on February 4, 2018 at BRAC-CDM Savar jointly organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD).

A total of 38 participants of several South Asian think tanks from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the workshop. There were two thematic sessions addressing gender in research and organisational excellence, which were facilitated by Ms Ratna M Sudarshan, a gender specialist from India, and Ms Ranjani Krishnamurthy, Researcher and Consultant, Gender and Development based in India.

In the first session, participants from the think tanks displayed and showcased their stories on gender research, and how they contributed in improving knowledge on gender related policy research. They also highlighted the issues of data requirement, data collection and analysis for gender research. They identified lack of real-time and disaggregated data on gender impede policy intervention for the advancement of women. The participants stressed on filling these data gaps so that gender equity issues could be reflected in policy interventions.

In the second session, the participants looked into how gender equality and diversity are maintained within the think tanks through their policies, including human resource  policy, promotion, basic minimum salary, leave policy, travel policy, etc. They discussed on how gender-diverse policies can strengthen institutional performance for achieving a gender-sensitive organisation. The participants also emphasised on how patriarchal dimensions are controlling the access and capacities of women in the society.

Maheen Sultan, Visiting Fellow of BIGD presented the activities of Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) of BIGD in terms of mainstreaming gender through its research.

Dr. Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director, CPD, delivered welcome remarks while Professor Rounaq Jahan, Distinguished Fellow, CPD, was the Special Commentator of the day-long workshop.
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Workshop on Women, Men and Labor Markets in Bangladesh:
Constraints, Choices and Policy Challenges

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Women have great opportunities to contribute to the national economy. Despite of the opportunities, one of the barriers to the women is having lack of confidence. Again, women are being harassed in different ways in the buses, markets, offices or in public places by the men who also led them to decrease the confidence. Besides these, the unpaid works of women are being ignored. These observations were made by the specialists at the daylong workshop titled “Women, Men and Labor Markets in Bangladesh: Constraints, Choices and Policy Challenges” organized by The Center for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University on December 2, 2017 at the city.

Prof. Naila Kabeer, Department of International Development and Gender Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science; Ms. Simeen Mahmud, Head, and Lopita Huq, Research Fellow of CGST presented the findings from the research project on “Choice, Constraint and Gender Dynamics of Labour Markets in Bangladesh.” The papers discussed how choice and constraints interact to shape the labor market behavior of women and men using survey and qualitative data from 8 districts in Bangladesh.

Ms. Mahmud said that according to the latest survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS); only 36 percent women were involved in labor in the country. But in two surveys conducted in 2008 and 2015, the data revealed that 67 percent of women are involved in labor market.

Charing of the workshop Prof. Ashwini Deshpande of the Department of Economics of Delhi School of Economics mentioned it would be helpful to know more about women involved in labor. She urged to think about what can be done for these women engaged in labor.

Prof. Kabeer; Dr. Shahidur Rahman, BRAC University and Dr. Mahmudur Rahman, University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh (ULAB) presented preliminary findings from a collaborative research project on “Changes in the Governance of Garment Global Production Networks: Lead Firm, Supplier and Institutional Responses to the RANA Plaza Disaster” funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. The findings discussed how employers and workers in the Bangladesh RMG sector assess their experience with the Accord/Alliance agreements that were put in place in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster.
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An empowered city government needed for Well-planned City
speakers said at a workshop on Equitable Economic Growth in Sylhet

SCC workshop

Participants at a workshop on Equitable Economic Growth in Sylhet City demanded to build Sylhet a planned city through the implementation of master plan prepared by Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury. The participants also demanded ensuring clean, healthy and hygienic environment, making open space for playground and other entertainment facilities. They also urged to make the citizens aware regarding their rights and responsibilities. They felt the need for an empowered city government to fulfill the aspirations of city dwellers.

The kick-off workshop was held under the joint work programme titled Promoting Equitable Economic Growth in Cities as part of a global campaign. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) with the support of Cities Alliance based in Brussels, jointly organized the workshop on May 24, 2017 in Sylhet.

Attending as the Chief Guest, Mayor Ariful Haq Chowdhury said that the public representatives allied with the ruling party get support from the Government but the other representatives do not and now it has become a culture which needs to be changed. Coordination and cooperation among the public offices and government organizations is essential before empowering the city corporation, he added. He proposed for a monthly coordination meeting and said that without coordination and cooperation, it is impossible to complete a single task.

Ajay Suri, Asian Regional Advisor, Cities Alliance; Consultant Dr. K. Rajivan, Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow, BIGD and Team Leader of the Project; Mr. Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury, Head of Operations, BIGD; Engineer Ruhul Alam, Chief Engineer, Sylhet City Corporation also delivered their speeches in the event. The programme was moderated by BIGD’s Research Associate S M Gubair Bin Arafat.

Advocate Irfanujjaman Chowdhury, President, Committee of Concerned Citizens (CCC); Aminul Islam Chowdhury, Sammilita Sangskritic Jote; Nasim Hossain, Sylhet City President of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP); senior politician Barrister Aarash Ali; Gourango Patro, President, Adivasi Forum (Forum of Ethnic People); Professor Tahmina Islam, Department of Social Work, Shahajalal University of Science and Technology; senior journalist Ahmed Nur; City Corporation Counselor Sahanara Begum, Dinar Khan and others also shared their valued opinion and suggestions regarding different problems of the city and their short term and long term solutions.

Recognizing the roles of cities and the challenges they present in developing countries, the Cities Alliance, a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and hosted by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and BIGD have embarked on this project. The goals of this project are (i) to promote equitable access to public goods and services in context of cities’ specific needs and (ii) support growth trajectories increasingly characterized by equity, inclusion and environmental sustainability.


                                                                                                                                                                                                 Media Coverage

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To provide more accountable service, we need City Governance
 – said Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy at a kick-off workshop

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"Most of the budget of the local government is spent by unelected officer, not by the elected representatives. Budget allocations to the elected public representatives should be increased as they are accountable to the people, where the accountability of a DC or MD is very low.” said Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy, Mayor, Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) at a workshop titled Equitable Economic Growth in Narayanganj City.

This kick-off workshop organized under the joint work programme titled Promoting Equitable Economic Growth in Cities as part of a global campaign. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and NCC with the support of Cities Alliance based in Brussels, jointly organized the workshop on May 18, 2017 at Narayanganj.

Dr. Ivy claimed for city governance and raised question, Why DESA, Titas, Police, Magistrates are not under the City Corporation? She urged all to tell the government, 'Give us city government'. If there is no city government, a city mayoral corporation will not be able to do much work. Now we have to request our magistrates, call the police, call to DPDC to get services. But in the system of city government, various organizations could work under an umbrella as a whole. In addition, when these will come under the elected representatives, they will be accountable to public to discharge these responsibilities either for the necessity of the citizen’s service or to keep popularity or due to the fear of the upcoming election.

She told that, these unelected officers need not to answer any questions of the mass people but a local government representative must have to and that is why it is high time to increase the power of local government. She added, though there are a lot of limitations, local government is trying to solve as much problems as they can.

Presenting the 'Institutional Enabling Environment Report (IEER)' Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow, BIGD and Team Leader of the project said, 'Analyzing the political, functional and fiscal arrangements under which Narayanganj City Corporations (NCC) operates this project will assist in facilitating city-level policy actions for enhancing Local Economic Development (LED) which will ultimately promote equitable access to public goods and services."

Dr. Dhiraj Ajay Suri, Regional Advisor for Asia; K Rajivan; Advisor, Cities Alliance; Advocate Mahmudur Rahmna Habib, Chief Executive Officer, NCC and Muhammad Jahangir, Media personality were also present at the workshop among others.

Recognising the roles of cities and the challenges they present in developing countries, the Cities Alliance, a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and hosted by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and BIGD have embarked on this project. The goals of this project are (i) to promote equitable access to public goods and services in context of cities’ specific needs and (ii) support growth trajectories increasingly characterised by equity, inclusion and environmental sustainability.

                                                                                                     Media Coverage
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Economic development cannot be measured only by GDP
said Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud

As Bangladesh is advancing fast in its efforts to ensure sustaining economic growth, the disparities between the income of workers and employers is also widening day by day. We are noticing the per capita income increasing as well as the economic development of our country, on the other side economic discrimination is also increasing. So, Economic growth should not be measured only by Gross Domestic Production (GDP), said Prof Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud at the workshop on Formal-Informal Labour Nexus and Bangladesh’s Growth.

BIDS RAND

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) organised the workshop at BIDS’s on March 28, 2017 in the capital. The workshop was organised in partnership with the Rand Corporation of the USA and was supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK and the Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA) of Germany.

Prof Mahmud went on saying that the labourers are still deprived of a healthy work environment and the dues, benefits and allowances they deserve. He also called upon the government to come forward to take pragmatic steps to help the labour community improve their living standard. Though we often discuss the role of readymade garment sector, we have to formalise other sectors as well, he said.

He also said that the government needs to assist small entrepreneurs so that they can step into the formal sectors.

The outcome of the study suggests that although export-led growth increases employment levels, in terms of employment shares, sectoral growth causes a reallocation away from formal and informal employment towards self-employment, said Dr Krishna Kumar of RAND Corporation where he was presenting his research paper titled ‘the Formal-Informal Labour Nexus and Growth in Bangladesh’ in the first session of the workshop.

Presided over by BIGD Executive Director Dr Sultan Hafiz Rahman, the panelists at the workshop included CPD Distinguished Fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Economic Research Group Executive Director Dr Sajjad Zohir, Professor at the Department of Economics of Dhaka University Dr Selim Raihan, BIDS Research Director Dr Kazi Ali Toufique and BIDS senior Research Fellow Dr Nazneen Ahmed.

Dr Shanti Nataraj of Rand Corporation presented the second paper titled ‘What Do Workers Value about Formal Employment- Results from a Worker Survey in Bangladesh’ in the second session of the workshop. "Our studies found that policies that encourage job stability are likely to be beneficial for workers," said Dr Nataraj, adding: "It is also critical for policymakers to pay close attention to poor working conditions, particularly for informal workers."

Dr Minhaj Mahmud, Senior Research Fellow of BIDS said, It is also important to enforce existing regulations about overtime and pay in both formal and informal sectors, at his presentation of the paper titled ‘Employee and Employer Preferences for Worker benefits: Results from a Matched Survey in Bangladesh’ at the workshop.

The research team analysed existing secondary data and also conducted several surveys on employers and employees of small and medium enterprises to find the links between informality and growth while also examining worker transitions between different types of jobs and estimating the valuations of specific job benefits by workers and employers.

                                                                                                              Media Coverage
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Women’s economic opportunity draws on all factors in society
Experts said at a workshop

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“Women’s economic opportunity is not an isolated issue. It draws on all factors in society,” said Dr. Kaniz N. Siddique, at the Technical Validation Workshop titled Evidence Based Foundation of Women’s Economic Empowerment at UNDP on 14 March, 2017, to review a set of four studies on the current state of and opportunities for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh.

The study was done to gain a better understanding of the characteristics, opportunities and constraints for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh. It also attempted to provide an evidence-based foundation for government, development, UN and civil society partners for promoting and supporting women’s economic empowerment. Four related studies on Gender Aware Macro-economic Analysis, Analysis of Institutional and Social Constraints to Women’s Economic Engagement and Benefit, Opportunities Analysis: Market and Opportunities Analysis: Policy was completed for this purpose.

The Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University in partnership with United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh and UN Women Bangladesh arranged the workshop.

Sudipto Mukerjee, Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh inaugurated the session which was followed by introductory remarks from Christine Hunter, Country Representative, UN Women Bangladesh and Shaila Khan, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh. The presentation and open discussion sessions were moderated by Simeen Mahmud, Head, Gender Cluster and CGST, BIGD.

The research started in January 2016 and reports were finalized by end of the year. The study team comprised Dr. Kaniz N. Siddique (Team Leader Study One), Simeen Mahmud (Gender Expert Study One), Maheen Sultan (Visiting Fellow, Gender Cluster and CGST, BIGD and Team Leader Study Two) and Ferdousi Sultana Begum (Team Leader Study Four) with research assistance from Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST), BIGD. Study Three is led by Dr Nazneen Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow, BIDS and began in December 2016 and is on-going.

Representatives from different Ministries and Departments of the Government of Bangladesh were present as participants, along with representatives from development partners, think tanks, local NGOs, private sector and different UN Programmes. Discussants acknowledged that more intensive initiatives must be undertaken to strengthen women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh and suggested more critical perspectives through which market opportunities for women can be analyzed.
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