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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 draws on all factors in society
Experts said at a workshop

cgst technical

“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.

Bangladesh's progress offers lessons for achieving sustainable development globally

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Bangladesh's progress offers lessons for achieving sustainable development globally

Bangladesh’s remarkable progress over the last 40 years in reducing poverty and improving lives can offer valuable lessons for achieving inclusive and sustainable development globally. Said Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury, Vice-Chair of BRAC, at an event in the Palace of Westminster hosted by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Bangladesh and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

MOU with IDSDr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD (left) and Melissa Leach, Director, IDS are signing an MoU

Dr Chowdhury highlighted the vital contribution that the partnership between Bangladesh and the UK has made to Bangladesh graduating to lower middle-income status, reducing poverty, improving health services and education provision and modernising agriculture. Bangladesh has overtaken India in terms of human development progress, he added. He also said that the collaboration between Bangladesh and the UK has helped to increase our understanding of how to break the cycle of extreme poverty. This learning around what works could make a significant contribution to the reduction of poverty in all of its forms globally.

Meanwhile, the IDS - based at the University of Sussex - have signed a series of new MoUs with Bangladeshi partners including BRAC, James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSH) and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD). The MOUs were signed as part of a wider series of events taking place at IDS and in the UK parliament, looking at the rapid progress of development in Bangladesh over the last forty years. These MOUs provide a productive and mutually beneficial framework for future collaborations that will contribute to global efforts to reduce poverty and inequality, and will harness the organisations' complementary expertise across research, learning, development programming and practice.

Dr Chowdhury said, "From Robert Chambers helping to inform BRAC's participatory approach to development in the 1990s, to our founder Sir Fazle Hasan sitting on the IDS board – the connections between BRAC and IDS are longstanding and highly valued. I am delighted to be signing this agreement today which will strengthen and evolve these collaborations so both organisations can continue to work together to achieve progressive social change."

Melissa Leach, Director, IDS said over the last four decades IDS has worked alongside colleagues in Bangladesh to tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges and signing these agreements represents an important opportunity to recognise and reaffirm these vital partnerships. "For it is only through global cooperation and collaboration that we can realise our shared visions of a fairer, safer and more sustainable world," she said.

Dr Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, BRAC University, said "These research partnerships will contribute both to the strategic direction of each of the organisations, as well as continue to support the type of informed, evidence-based policy making that has helped achieve the remarkable gains in social development in Bangladesh over the last forty years". Together IDS, BRAC, JPGSH and BIGD will seek to identify future opportunities that foster mutual learning and cooperation around research and policy engagement activities.

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BIGD's pilot received South Asia Procurement Innovation Award for 2016-2017

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BIGD's pilot received the World Bank's
South Asia Procurement Innovation Award for 2016-2017

BIGD, as part of the Public Procurement Reform Project 2 (extension), has been supporting the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU), IME Division, Ministry of Planning to pilot test a Third Party Monitoring system (model) of infrastructure projects, involving the beneficiaries/citizens at the Upazila level. A BIGD team has been involved in implementing the project in 4 Upazilas of Rangpur and Sirajganj for the past 18 months. The essence of the project is to establish greater transparency and accountability in public procurement through citizen's engagement.

This pilot project has received the World Bank's South Asia Procurement Innovation Award for 2016-2017 at the fourth South Asia Regional Public Procurement Conference, hosted by the Sri Lankan Department of Public Finance at Sri Lanka, on February 20-23, 2017.
The theme of the conference was "e-GP in South Asia: Achievements, Opportunities and Challenges". Director General of CPTU Md Faruque Hossain, the current chair of the South Asian Public Procurement Network (SAPPN), represented Bangladesh in the conference.

The SAPPN is a platform of heads of public procurement regulatory bodies in South Asian countries. They exchange ideas and experiences to innovate good practices to improve public procurement management in the region in general and their own country in particular. The SAPPN for the first time declared public procurement award under some categories. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank are the sponsors of the conference.

Bangladesh's contribution to Knitwear sector calls for action not just words and we must begin to engage to address the rapid change of the industry

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Bangladesh's contribution to Knitwear sector calls for action not just words and
we must begin to engage to address the rapid change of the industry
Experts said at a dissemination workshop
SEIP workshop

Bangladesh's contribution to Knitwear sector calls for action not just words and we must begin to engage to address the rapid change of the industry, experts said at a dissemination workshop held on February 27, 2017 at a hotel in the city. The workshop was organized to disseminate Need Assessment Report and Outline of Course Curriculum of Executive Development Programme (EDP) under SEIP project and have feedback from entrepreneurs and experts of Knitwear Sector in Bangladesh.

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University in partnership with Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) project arranged the Dissemination Workshop on Need Assessment Report and Outline of Course Curriculum of Executive Development Programme (EDP) under SEIP project. Professor Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice Chancellor BRAC University attended the workshop as chief guest where Mr. Abdur Rouf Talukder, Additional Secretary and Executive Project Director, SEIP project was special guest. Among others, Mr. Arastoo Khan, Chairman of Board of Directors of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, Mr. Md. Khairul Islam, Joint Secretary and Deputy Executive Project Director SEIP project, Dr. Md. Shanawez Hossain Chief Coordinator of EDP, SEIP; and entrepreneurs and experts from Knitwear sector attended the event.
To accelerate the growth by increasing the productivity of workforce of the priority industry sectors including Knitwear sector, the Government of Bangladesh with the help of ADB and SDC is implementing this Skills training program. BRAC University is implementing curriculum development part for the Knitwear sub-sector. It will ultimately lead to establishing an Executive Development Center to address skills gap for the mid to high level managers as well as new entrants in Knitwear Sector.

In his speech Professor Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb, said that it is a perfect platform for industry and academic linkage where BRAC University has accommodated SEIP for Knitwear industry development. The course will reduce the dependence on foreign resources yet will find ways to better collaborate in the fields of research and development and capitalize the scope of lifelong learning. He suggested that there should be a benchmark and monitoring of the training outcome for the feasibility of such training to integrate more such programs. In future there should be research documents for the next batch of activities. This training programme should focus on SMART goal with innovation and course delivery engaging the participants with critical thinking and problem solving discussions, he added. He also suggested different classroom management techniques like, flip class rooms, group projects, Q/A sessions to make the training interactive.

Mr. Arostoo Khan, who was one of the brains behind the idea of EDP told that, “My engagement with this project is more of passion. As you are all aware that we are going through a demographic dividend and a large number of young men and women are entering into the industry market. So we have to prepare them. Again China is relocating lot of factories away from China as the cost of labor in China is going up and we have to prepare our market for that. So these factors put an impact to take decision regarding the ADB funded EDP.”

Narrating background of the EDP Project, Dr. Abdur Rouf talukder, Executive Project Director of SEIP and the Additional Secretary, Finance Ministry said that there is enormous skill gap at mid and higher level positions, namely supervisor; mid and top level managers in certain industrial sector. Against this backdrop, the SEIP project of Finance Division under Ministry of Finance would like to work with leading universities of country to establish Executive Development Centre (EDC) to conduct nine month training programme to develop mid and higher level managers. Government will support the programme upto 2024. He also mentioned that the concept of EDC used here will be an entity that will support at developing world class business executive and entrepreneurs. He also briefly narrated the scope of the EDC, its beneficiaries, its funding modality and possible implementing strategy.

In his welcome speech, Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow of BIGD and Chief Coordinator of EDP, SEIP said that, “I believe involving BRAC University with the project is recognition of its aspiration of ‘inspiring excellence’ in academic and research arena, what the honorable Vice Chancellor always dreams. Further this ‘Government-industry-university’ linkage established under this project is something completely new in Bangladesh. However, it is not new in many countries of the world where companies and universities work in tandem to push the frontiers of knowledge; and thus they become a powerful engine for innovation and economic growth. Silicon Valley is a dramatic example of such collaboration. Microsoft-Cisco-Intel and University of Melbourne collaboration; and BP’s Energy Biosciences Institute in the University of California, Berkeley is further example of such collaboration.” He thanked SEIP for giving chance to BIGD to be a part of this project and also for helping in all possible ways they can. He also thanked all from industry side for giving time despite their busy schedule, which urged to prove the importance of this project.

Later Mr. Md. Khairul Islam Deputy Executive Project Director, SEIP made brief presentation on EDP while Chief Coordinator of EDP, SEIP Dr. Shanawez Hossain presented the Training Need Assessment findings. Ms. Mahreen Mamoon, Coordinator of EDP, SEIP presented tentative curriculum of courses to be offered under this program while EDP-SEIP coordinator Mr. Sirajul Islam and Ms. Jannatun Naim facilitate the workshop. Representatives from several knitwear industries attended the workshop and provided their valuable suggestions and guidelines to make the EDP successful.

Press Launch of the State of Governance in Bangladesh 2016 report

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Press Launch of the State of Governance in Bangladesh 2016 report

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University has launched one of its annual flagship research report The State of Governance in Bangladesh 2016: Regulation Process Performance through the Press on 20 December 2016, at the BRAC Centre Inn Auditorium, Mohakhali, Dhaka in presence of huge gathering of the reporters and the journalists from Print, Online and Electronic media.

180A8940 LargeDr. Iftekharuzzaman, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud and Dr. Wahid Abdallah are seen at the Launching of SoG (From Left)

BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman along with Dr. Wahid Abdallah, Research Fellow, BIGD; Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, a renowned economist, and Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, the Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) launched the report in front of media.

On behalf of the SoG team, Dr. Wahid Abdallah made the presentation on the findings and recommendations of the report. A lively Question-Answer Session held followed by the presentations, where the SoG Research team addressed the queries and comments of the media reporters and senior journalists.

The report analysed democratic process, specially electoral politics, public sector governance, economic governance, and health governance, specifically governance of Upazila Health complexes. In democratic governance, the report focused mostly on the local government elections in Bangladesh and looked into the role of competition in election, voter turnout, voter list, electoral expenditure and electoral violence. The electoral competition in some elections, for example, the national election and city corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong, have been affected by boycotts by the main opposition party, which may have also resulted into lower voter turnout in those elections. Data also shows that election time violence and gender gap in voter list has increased in Bangladesh in recent years. The report said that, Bangladesh has seen deteriorations of electoral competition in the recent years. There was an increased pattern of election time violence, low participation of female candidates in local government elections and increased gender gap in the final voter list prepared in 2014 before 10th national election, the report said.  

In public sector governance, the report mentioned that there was sluggish implementation of Annual Development Programme, downward trend of the Request For Information under right to information act, and more than half of the corruption complaints at ACC discontinued. Noted economists who spoke at the report launching called for taking efficient steps by the concern authorities to make the governance system more dynamic at all sectors. They also stressed the need for enhancing capacity of different government organisations.

Economic governance focuses on three topics: labour, tax and the financial sector governance. The section on labour governance analyses the role of ministerial and administrative bodies and discusses issues related to labour rights and collective bargaining, labour conflicts, and workers' safety. According to the report, the workers participation in trade union is dismal compared to the size of the workforce. Industrial safety remains a major concern in the sector and the progress of the reform initiatives. Analysis on tax governance looks at the governance of tax administration and collection in Bangladesh with a special emphasis on the indirect tax, particularly on VAT. There has been an increasing trend in indirect tax revenue collection, particularly of VAT, since 2009. The performance Indicators of the banking sector seems satisfactory. The banking sector in terms of absorbing shocks is reportedly in a moderate condition. Large non -performing loans have been a big concern for the last few years and no sign of significant improvement is observed. In economic governance, the report also said that Bangladesh was the only country with tax GDP ratio of 10 percent, which was the lowest among the South Asian countries. The ministry of labour receives less than two percent of total budgetary allocations, even though it is improving, the report said. In 2016, inspector to workers ratio was 1 to 8 lakh although the standard is 1 inspector to 40,000 workers.

In the health sector governance, relationship between resource availability and performance of Upazila Health Complexes (UHC) has been shown positive using a set of indicators. The analysis goes on showcasing that the service recipients, when informed more about resources availability, are more willing to go to UHCs, thus creating demands for services which, in turn, help improve the performance of government health services at the upazila level. 


Political and social elites have been working as the driver of the country's economic growth Experts said at the BIGD-ESID policy workshop

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Political and social elites have been working as the driver of the country's economic growth
Experts said at the BIGD-ESID policy workshop
BIGD ESID Policy workshop

The steady growth of Bangladesh has been possible because of a kind of deal prevailing between the political and social elites, speakers said at a workshop in the capital on Thursday. The observation came as speakers discussed how the country maintained a ‘steady and reasonably high’ growth despite shifts in political regimes and economic policies over decades since its independence in 1971.

Representatives of administration, bureaucrats and politicians joined these elites in expanding their sources to earn more money from and the syndicate continued to grow through discoveries of new resources like new maritime boundary, they said. The experts taking part in the discussion also expressed concern that the 'deal' was not, however, enough to attain inclusive growth. They also appreciated achieving the existing growth trend, despite weaknesses in many of the market-enhancing institutions, because of a reasonably robust form of 'growth-enhancing governance'. But they also stressed the need for holding periodic, fair and contestable elections to satisfy popular aspirations, and for seeking legitimacy.

Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in cooperation with Effective States of Inclusive Development (ESID), University of Manchester jointly organised the policy workshop on 'Politics and Development, Democracy and Growth: Bangladesh and Beyond' at Brac Centre Inn. The workshop contained three important sessions titled Understanding the Politics of Economic Growth; Understanding the Politics of Social Policy; and The Political Settlement in Bangladesh: Past, Present and Future.

Taking part in the discussion, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said: "The term 'ideology' is now a myth. Ideals are used to deliver speeches on the national days. Personal development is stronger than idealism. Whoever the player is now, all are motivated with this."

‘The existence of this equilibrium is related to the expansion of sources from where rents are collected,’ said Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya. ‘The question is how long will this equilibrium hold?’ asked Debapriya.

Mirza Hasan, an adjunct fellow at the BIGD, presented the first session’s keynote paper on navigating the labyrinth of the deals world and politics of economic growth in Bangladesh. He authored the paper along with Selim Raihan, University of Dhaka. ‘Ordered deal was maintained under military dictatorships, dominant party settlements exhibiting mostly centralised rent management, as well as under competitive party settlement in Bangladesh,’ reads one of the points mentioned in the keynote paper referring Bangladesh as a unique case. ‘In economic domain, the elites don’t fight. They come together at the end of the day,’ said Mirza. As a result, business community has become politically stronger, said the paper. It also mentioned that the country’s growth has been a topic of surprise for many given the facts that it has a bad reputation for governance and it is not the source of any extraordinary products that cannot be produced by many countries.

Dr. Sohela Nazneen, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka; Ms. Simeen Mahmud,Head, Gender Cluster & CGST, BIGD; and Dr. Naomi Hossain, IDS also presented their paper at the workshop. Eminent academics and policy experts including David Hulme, CEO, ESID; Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, University of Dhaka; Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, PPRC; Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD and Professor Rounaq Jahan of the Centre for Policy Dialogue and Mr. Kazi Anis Ahmed,writer and publisher discussed at the workshop on the presented papers. Sujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumder, The Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam, Dhaka University teacher Asif Nazrul, and former caretaker government adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman attended the workshop among others.


Presentation: Political Settlement and Inclusive Development

Presentation: Navigating the Labyrinth of the Deals World: Politics of Economic Growth in Bangladesh

Presentation: Political economy of policy and implementation in the Bangladesh health sector: implications for reducing maternal mortality

Presentation: The Politics of promoting Gender equity in Bangladesh: The Domestic Violence law

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