Mobilising for Women’s Rights and the Role of Resources: Synthesis Report, Bangladesh

Women’s rights work in Bangladesh is witnessing significant changes to the aid scenario. Over the past ten years or more several donor organisations have had to revisit and revise their missions and strategies. The most obvious changes are visible amongst bilateral donor organisations. Women’s organisations and small non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had been mainly dependent on the small grants programmes and civil society grants from bilateral donors. But leading up to the Paris Agreement on aid effectiveness and consequent to it, bilateral organisations have had to downsize their in-country operations. Governments and multilateral organisations have now become the main conduits for donor money. Support to the NGO sector is being increasingly channelled through trust funds set up for this purpose. The changed aid architecture has made it difficult for women’s organisations to access funding in their own right, and for the specific issues that they have worked on. The report undertook country-level research in Bangladesh to clarify the conditions under which external financial support to women’s mobilisation has a positive impact on women’s empowerment. Five case-study organisations were chosen to capture the diversity of different types of women’s organisations in Bangladesh which include small associations, professional networks, and NGOs. The study found excessive focus on advocacy for policy and legal reform from the donors to the organizations. This could be a result of what donors count as ‘success’, but this could potentially divert organisational activities away from focusing on wider structural changes. The study further examined how donors viewed the changing situation. 

Authors: Nazneen, Sohela; Sultan, Maheen; Mukhopadhyay, Maitrayee
Type: Review/Synthesis Paper
Year: 2011