“Youth Combating Violence against Women in COVID” arranged by JAAGO Foundation & UN Women Bangladesh
(Dhaka) December 5, 2020, Saturday: On the occasion of International Volunteer Day, JAAGO Foundation and UN Women Bangladesh hosted a day-long series of webinars titled “Youth Combating Violence against Women in COVID”. As part of the #16DaysOfActivism against Gender-Based Violence, these webinars brought youth, policymakers, development partners, and influencers all in the same platform to start the discussion on solutions with a gender lens to recover the COVID impact.
Mr. Korvi Rakshand, Founder & Executive Director- JAAGO Foundation said, Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging data and reports from those on the front lines, have shown that all types of violence against women and girls has intensified. To eradicate such casualties against women, JAAGO Foundation and UN Women Bangladesh arranged this day-long webinar to equip these young minds with right knowledge. They must stand against all kinds of violence and work towards a safe and violence-free world.
This webinar covered different aspects of social development and these will be enlightened with the participation of enthusiastic youths and renowned personalities from all over the country.
Excerpts from “Frontline response to COVID: the role of youth organizations” session:
- Tawhida Shiropa, Founder, Moner Bondhu emphasized on mainly providing mental health support to women as the organization itself is founded by a woman. During this pandemic, 45% females have asked for support in this platform who have been a victim of physical and mental health abuse from family and dear ones. Moner Bondhu has provided counselling to these victims in their times of distress and those victims who have asked for legal support, Moner Bindu has provided referral for further action. The Moner Bondu mental health and wellbeing platform offers free online courses. The course contents have been shared in Bangla for users’ easy understanding.
“ Through volunteering, an individual gets hold of day to day knowledge which can have a positive impact on a person’s wellbeing”’
- Jakir Hossain, Finance Secretary, Bidyanondo Foundation commented that Bidanondo has prioritised women and elderly people while distributing relief. 60-70% beneficiaries of the organization are females who receive Zakat funds..In Covid relief distribution, Bidanondo made sure there is a separate line for females to receive the relief package. Even for female volunteers, the organization ensured the safety and security of the volunteers by contacting the local council if there are any safe issues for the female in the relief distribution area. Bidanondo has made a hospital permanent which was established during Covid. Though the hospital was for mother and child care but now anyone can avail health services for only Tk 1. Even in Dhaka, the organization has established a hostel for female board examiners and for job interview participants for accommodation only for tk 199 per night. This type of female hostels will also be built in Chittagong and in other districts in near future. The organization has distributed around 10,000 blankets during this time. All the employees are mostly women and the organization empowers women and encourages them to take lead in key roles especially in leading projects.
“Volunteering increases time and project management and It skills which is not only beneficial for job hunting but is also an added bonus while applying for studies abroad”
- Jannatul Mouwa, Executive Director, BINDU Women Development Organization opined that during Covid females have faced domestic abuse as they face increased personal and family problems. Child marriage and rape cases has taken a toll. The organization has empowered the females to produce masks and sell it. The females have to climb the ladder of access as they face challenges not only in rural areas but also in cities.
“‘The youth has to raise their voice and has to be accountable for their actions.”
- Kazi Sadia Afsana Nini, Volunteer, Volunteer For Bangladesh & NYGA commented that females can develop soft skills online during this pandemic. To reduce family restriction, females have to lessen the information gap among parents. They need to explain to them the importance of their work and its benefits to society.
“ Communication is vital to lessen family restrictions in order for a youth to grow”
- Mr. Tanjim Ferdous, National Consultant, UN in Bangladesh moderated the first webinar.
Excerpts from “He for She: Unbalanced workload for women during COVID” webinar:
- Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative, UN Women Bangladesh noted that during covid women in the informal sector were marginalized as they were confined in home during the lockdown. Also there is a digital divide as only 60% of women have access to mobile internet. She highlighted about the social norms and behaviour where the policies are driven by gender biases which are translated to laws and policies indicating female discrimination. Then there is a gender pay gap. The decisions taken based on gender, which subject and what kind of work is suitable for women and men in society. Shoko stated UN Women is working with the media to remove the emphasis on gender roles and have been actively working to portray equitable roles in household cooking appliances or other chores related commercial advertisements. She urged the youth to speak up when someone is mistreated and be conscious. More platforms of He for She needs to be initiated. She advised the men to create videos and share in social media emphasizing on gender equality. The discussion should begin from home and shift to school, workplace, peer learning activities are highly encouraged.
“‘Men should speak up as not being a perpetrator as all men are and can be different.’’
- Espen Rikter-Svendsen, the Ambassador-Designate, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Dhaka spoke about the pandemic situation and said this crisis gave the opportunity to reorganize family work during the lockdown. As more women in Bangladesh have been in the workforce. Both genders need to equally contribute to household chores as both are working. He said the role of family is important as both the boy and girl child needs to be treated equally. Hence all members of the family need to balance the work as these days more girls are getting education and are entering the workforce.He said the He for She debate needs to continue within families and in school and media There needs to be a stop to violence, legal reforms needs to be taken, the victims needs to be taken care of, more role models and activists needs to get involved in the process.
“The youth today will be adults tomorrow and the way they have seen their father treats their mother will have an impact on their behaviour for their female counterpart or loved one””
- Taqbir Huda, Research Specialist, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) & Coordinator, Justice for All Now (JANO), Bangladesh added the position of men and their privilege and explained a situation when his senior female lawyer colleague asked him to speak on an issue which if she says it woud be considered an enriched feminist.He mentioned what has motivated him to work on this field is the day when he was volunteering in a law firm and a 9 year old child who was a rape victim came bearing her own child as he realised how men have been sheltered into barberity. It is always the case where the blame is given to the person subjected to the crime. He urged everyone to ask ourselves how to react in situations where wrongdoings are being conducted and call out any sexist and not stigmatize a rapist or violence. We said to start recording the number of hours women and men devote to unpaid work and start speaking for victims of cyber crime.
“ Women devote a lot more time than men on doing unpaid work which are being barely acknowledged”
- Naveed Mahbub, Stand up comedian and influencer talked about
- The webinar was moderated by Syeda Samara Mortada, Regional Movement Builder, Asia, at SheDecides.
Excerpts from “Sexual Harassment: Online and offline” webinar:
- Mia Seppo, Resident Coordinator, United Nation opined that digital literacy is important. Like other countries we need to work on the behavioral change and make sexual harassment an issue of the past. We need to work changing the mindset. The conversations need to happen now and shall keep ongoing.
- Swatil Binte Mahmud, Founder of Swayong & Member of Feminist Across Generations, talked about her platform Swayong and the motive behind founding the organisation. She said that they use storytelling methods to convey any sort of injustice of violence faced by the youth. She added that storytelling helps mass audience to connect with the problem rather than a report or research paper.
- Zunaid Ahmed Palak MP, Honorable State Minister, Telecommunications and Information Technology, Bangladesh added that the youth need to be informed and inclusive to be democratic. He shared a presentation where he focused on verifying a post before posting on social media.In the presentation he mentioned about Television Talk Show, digital security courses developed and shared a mental health service online platform. He shared a gaming method for online safety for children and parents. Furthermore highlighted a National Helpline Call Centre Number and National Emergency Services Call Centre Number and mentioned about Anti Rapae and Child Protection devices. He put focus on the
- Raunak Jahan Moushi, Student, Begum Rokeya University Rangpur (BRUR) and Project Assistant, Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University said anything offensive said or shared in social media should be subjected to reporting. Both the post and the person who posted it should be reported.
- The webinar was moderated by Shararat Islam, Communications Analyst, UN Women Bangladesh