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ED spoke as Chief Guest at the GIU workshop

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ED spoke as Chief Guest at the GIU workshop

Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, ED of BIGD spoke at a divisional level workshop as the Chief Guest, held at the Chittagong Circuit House on 27 October 2016, organised by the Governance Innovation Unit (GIU) of the Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh. The workshop was organised under the National Governance Assessment Framework (NGAF) project of the GIU and UNDP, Bangladesh. To assess the governance scenario in Bangladesh under the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16, GIU and UNDP, have joined hands to develop a country contextual National Governance Assessment Framework for Bangladesh. A Working Group has been set up to provide inputs to the draft framework. BIGD is one of the working group members with the Department of Public Administration and the Department of Development Studies of the University of Dhaka. As the process of finalising the framework progresses, the aim of organising the workshop is to consult with the field level government and non government stakeholders to get more comprehensive feedback and also to create a sense of ownership among them.


In his speech, Dr Rahman welcomed the participants and emphasised on the needs of the governance assessment initiative in Bangladesh. The program was chaired by Ms. Sayeda Sarwar Jahan, Additional Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong. Ms. Quamrun Naher Siddiqua, Director, GIU; Ms. Sheela Tasneem Haq, Advisor, UNDP; Mr. Radwan Siddiq, National Consultant of the UNDP- Bangladesh also spoke in the program. Among others, Professor Taiabur Rahman, Professor Kazi Maruful Islam of the University of Dhaka, Mr Mohammad Kamrul Hasan, Mr Md. Rokon-Ul-Hasan, Mr Mohammad Ali Nause Russel, Deputy Directors of the GIU, Dr Shanawez Hossain and Mr. Harun Or Rashid from BIGD were present as the Facilitators in the workshop. Prof. Kazi Maruful Islam presented the draft framework with the participants. Different government and non government officials, members of the civil society, local government representatives were present as participants in the workshop.

ED delivers lecture at Monash Business School

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ED delivers lecture at Monash Business School

Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman visited the Centre for Global Business (CGB) at Monash Business School and give a lecture on “Unpacking the Bangladesh Growth Story: Does Governance Matter?” at Caulfield Campus, at a panel discussion titled “South Asia: Economic and Political Challenges” on 8 September 2016 organized by the South Asia Research Network (SARN) in collaboration with the Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) at the Monash University Asia Institute, South Asia. He also participated in other one seminar and held several meetings to strengthen collaboration between BIGD and Monash University. The lecture was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session. The program was chaired by Prof. Sisira Jayasuriya, Director of CDES.

"Declining Women’s presence in local government needs increased democratic practices within political parties", Roundtable on Women’s Representation in LG

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SHARIQUE-BIGD Roundtable on Women’s Representation in LG
Declining Women’s presence in local government needs increased
democratic practices within political parties

PIC 2 SHARIQUE Roundtable

The number of women contestants, both for general and reserved seats in the local government elections, has declined over the years thereby questioning women’s political empowerment in local government although the Constitution and the National Women Development Policy 2011 are in favor of women’s political participation, says research findings shared at a roundtable discussion titled `Strengthening Women’s Representation in Local Government’, organized by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, in cooperation with HELVETAS Swiss Inter cooperation (HSI) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under the Local Governance Program SHARIQUE-III on March 20, 2016 at the capital’s Lake Shore Hotel. The event was held to have informed discussions on how to increase women’s participation in local government elections. Ms Maheen Sultan, Visiting Fellow, BIGD presented the keynote paper at the event.
Research findings and field observations also indicate women do not feel motivated to participate in the UP elections as they are often unable to keep the promises to their voters. Women are generally passive as political actors, economic barriers, lack of proper resource allocation and confusion over their respective responsibilities have drawn many of them back from contesting in the election. Moreover, women prefer to participate in the reserve seats because the cost of the participation in the election and others are less expensive and competitive than contesting for the general seats. However, participation in reserve seats may also put women in the sidelines when it comes to contesting elections in the general seats.

PIC 1 SHARIQUE RoundtableAddressing the issue of the small number of female political leaders at the grassroots level of the government, the speakers at the event said that in the UP polls the number of female candidates is relatively fewer than before. In fact, data from the Election Commission shows that female participation in different elections in the government has decreased over the years. From 2008 to 2011, the number of female participants in UP elections went down by 1,000 across the country, according to the Election Commission statistics. To increase women’s representation in local government, the speakers stressed on increased democratic practices within the political parties, strict monitoring of EC, pro-active role of civil society organizations and media, and political goodwill.

Earlier Ms Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, Programme Manager, SDC delivered the introductory remarks. Mr. Muhammad Jahangir, noted media personality, facilitated the discussion round where participants gave their views and shar ed experiences on the issue.

Collage 1Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Muhammad Jahangir, Maheen Sultan (From left)

Among others, Dr. Tofail Ahmed, Local Government expert; Mr. Abul Hasan Chowdhury, former State Minister for foreign affairs; Brig. Gen. (Rtd.) Md. Sakhawat Hossain, former Election Commissioner; Mr. Zonayed Saki, Chief Coordinator of Gano Sanghati Andolon and past mayoral candidate of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC); Mr. Kafi Ratan of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and past mayoral candidate of DNCC; Ms Ayesha Khanam, President of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad; Mr. Hasan Majumder, Country Representative, Asia Foundation spoke at the discussion. Other representatives included Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow and Team Leader of SHARIQUE, BIGD, and Mr. Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, Senior Programme Manager, BIGD.

Collage 2

Dr. Tofail Ahmed, Brig. Gen. (Rtd.) Md. Sakhawat Hossain, Dr. Sohela Nazneen, Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Hasan Majumder,
Ayesha Khanam, Zonayed Saki , Kafi Ratan, (Clockwise from the top left)

Citing the Representation of the People Order (RPO) of 1972 (amended in 2013) provision for political parties to ensure 33% of women’s representation in all their committees, Mr. Shakhawat Hossain said no political party has been able to meet that standard.  Admitting Election Commission (EC)’s failure to issue reminders to the political parties to fulfill this requirement, he urged the civil society and women activists to work with the EC to press this demand.

Dr. Tofail Ahmed said the issue of declining women’s participants from local government elections is linked to the broader agenda of democracy. The present system of reserved seats is not an effective one. In addition to having one-third of seats reserved for women, a system of Ward rotation could be introduced wherein the constituencies representing the reserved seats get changed and rotated at every election to accommodate new constituencies. Also, it is necessary to hold the Upazila Parishad reserved seats election as soon as the Union Parishad elections are over by June 2016. The EC should take the initiative to declare the election schedule for this.  

According to a 2015 research undertaken by the Local Governance Programme SHARIQUE, contesting for reserved seats is more convenient for women because the election campaign costs are less and the probability of winning is higher as women do not have to compete against men. The qualitative study revealed that political parties are increasingly playing a dominant role in women’s political empowerment.  Although local women are interested to join politics, the political culture is not women friendly and various social factors prevent them from doing so.  

Concluding the event on a positive note Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD said though there appears to be many constraints in terms of women’s progress in Bangladesh’s politics, the situation is improving if we look at the history of our democracy and feminist movement.  Even industrialised countries were able to ensure women’s political rights after a long struggle only in recent decades. In this respect, Bangladesh, has not taken that long. Certainly further mobilising this progress requires collective and aligned actions from all relevant stakeholders, civil society organizations and media.

Event covered by:

Daily Star

Dhaka Tribune

Daily Ittefaq


Kaler Kantha



Dr. Shanawez discusses 'Informal settlements in Bangladesh' at the side event of UN Habitat PrepCom3

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Dr. Shanawez discusses 'Informal settlements in Bangladesh'
at the side event of UN Habitat PrepCom3
Malaysia Seminar
(From left to right) Dr. Khairul Islam, Country representative, Water Aid Bangladesh; Dr. Md. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow, BIGD; Dr Mukta Naik,
Senior Fellow, CPR India;Dr Gopa Samanta, Professor University of Burdwan, India; and Dr Valérie Clerc, Research Fellow,
Institut de recherche pour le développement are seen at the event

Dr. Md. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow and Head of Urban, Climate Change and Environment (UCCE) Cluster of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University delivered a presentation on “Informal Settlement in Bangladesh: Social Capital Context”, at the side event of third session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (UN Habitat PrepCom3) held in Surabaya, Indonesia from 24-28 July, 2016. As a member of the Bangladesh delegation, he  participated in all the sessions of the conference.

Dr. Hossain made the presentation on “Informal Settlement in Bangladesh: Social Capital Context” at a side event titled “Small towns and informal settlements: can they learn from each other?” on 26 July. In his presentation, he highlighted service delivery issues in informal settlements and the role of Civil Societies and Social Capital in this context.

In the side event, researchers discussed different challenges and solutions that could provide new ways of thinking informal settlement in small towns. They emphasized on in-depth diagnosis and critical approaches to current practices and existing network-based solutions; suitability of existing sanitation technologies for small settlements, especially for climate and environmental resilience; and experiences for ecological transitionin informal settlements and small towns, including non-network solutions, like septic tanks and septage management systems. They highlighted that many sustainable innovative urban forms or adaptation to climate change can be a source of inspiration for new urban interventions.

Dr. Hossain also participated in number of field visits organized by Surabaya City Government to see sustainable urban management practices. The three days conference was attended by more than 4000 participants from more than 140 countries of the world. The conference came up with a draft New Urban Agenda which will be adopted in the UN Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecudor from 17 to 20 October 2016.



BIGD Special Publication Series 04 : Women's Representation in the Union Parishad

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BIGD Special Publication Series
No.04 July, 2016
Women's Representation in the Union Parishad 
Local Governance Programme Sharique-III

Contributors: Maheen Sultan, Md. Bayazid Hasan, Sahida Islam Khondaker, Ahmed Asif Enam, Towhid Iqram Mahmood, Sohela Nazneen

View and Download the Paper

 BIGD Special publication Womens Representation study Page 01

The study focused on a few key questions: a) how, where and when women receive support for their accession and practice of political leadership at the local level; b) how women engage with opposition (from the family, community, political parties, from the rest of the UP members) in such a process; c) the kinds of coalitions women representatives form as they try to promote their political agenda once they are in power and the strategies they follow and negotiations they make to further their objectives; d) what is women's experience in negotiating local bureaucracy and political power structures; e) how people perceive women's leadership at the local level (citizens, local administration, NGOs, political actors). The study investigated experiences of women who have been elected in the UPs at least once and also women who have decided not to run for elections. It also explored the relationships between women in local government bodies, with local political parties, local level UP representatives (UP Chair, members) and other civil society groups such as NGOs and women's organisations.

BIGD Special Publication Series 03: Public Finance and Revenue Mobilization of Union Parishads

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BIGD Special Publication Series
No.03 July, 2016

Public Finance and Revenue Mobilization of Union Parishads:
A Case of Four Union Parishads

Contributors: Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Md Shanawez Hossain and Mohammed Misbah Uddin

View and Download the Paper

BIGD Special Publication 03 Publice Finance Study

The study stated that increasing revenues alone, without supplementary reforms, will not empower UPs to carry out effective public service delivery. Emphasis should be given on enhancing UPs' capacity to manage local revenues and engaging citizens in planning and budgeting local development. Tax management system needs to be improved for example, by conducting more accurate tax assessment, swift disciplinary action against tax related misconduct, public disclosure of revenue and expenditure to ensure transparency, etc. Simultaneously, awareness raising activities can be undertaken to popularize the tax payment system.

To summarize, the desired results of decentralization are accountability, transparency, increased local participation and improved efficiency in service delivery of UPs. The path of progress of decentralization cannot be predicted. While in the short term, UPs' potential is weak to bring about the desired decentralization progresses, there are some UPs that have the potential to emerge as strong actors of local development. However, their prospects are being hindered by bureaucratic controls and political motivations and intervention. Expanding revenue sources, establishing a pro-tax institutional culture and involving citizens will be keys to empower local government, which, together with capacity building inputs will promote greater devolution of administrative and financial power to them.