Mobilizing Support and Negotiating Change: Women’s Organizations Building Constituencies in Bangladesh

This paper describes and analyzes how three national level women’s organizations in Bangladesh mobilized support around a particular issue among their members and allies. The paper uses social movement/resource mobilization theories and feminist studies on the state and social movement for grounding this research. The focus is on the decade of the 1990s and the present decade. Through these case studies, the research aims to capture the diversity of the strategies used by these organizations for building constituencies‐‐internally and externally. All three case study organizations have strategically packaged the issues differently for their own members and external supporters depending on the emotional response they want to invoke and the social costs involved in packaging an issue in a specific way. The strategies these organizations used to build support within the state, political parties and civil society are influenced by different social and political factors. These factors have led feminist organizations to engage with the state in a strategic manner. This type of behaviour is motivated by the need to preserve autonomy, organizational legitimacy, and by the use of personal connections to access state machinery. Generally, women’s organizations have tried to distance themselves from the political parties and have not directly lobbied for their issues to be incorporated into the agendas. This is because the costs of engaging with political parties remain high and these organizations have not established themselves as major players in the political system.

Authors: Nazneen, Sohela; Sultan, Maheen
Type: Working Paper
Year: 2011