Pioneering Progress by Reducing Duress: Bangladesh Government’s Commitment to Ending GBV with UNFPA

“Women and girls in Bangladesh face a significant risk of gender-based violence (GBV), with 54.7% of women aged 15-49 experiencing physical or sexual intimate partner violence at least once in their lifetime,” stated a recent report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. In a decisive move to address this pressing issue, the Government of Bangladesh has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), signing two pivotal grant agreements aimed at combating GBV and fostering women’s rights and advancement.

On Sunday, the Economic Relations Division (ERD) inked two crucial project agreements with UNFPA, securing a grant of Taka 825 lakh. Md. Shahriar Kader Siddiky, Secretary of ERD, and Kristine Blokhus, UNFPA Country Representative in Bangladesh, formalised this partnership to launch initiatives that significantly contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly those focusing on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The first project, titled ‘Promoting Rights and Advancement of Women and Girls to Prevent GBV,’ seeks to foster positive societal change by addressing harmful practices and mitigating GBV. The project aims to develop robust legal and policy frameworks that will accelerate capacity-building, improve coordination, and deliver livelihood-focused services across national and sub-national levels. This initiative, spearheaded by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and implemented by the Department of Women Affairs, is a testament to Bangladesh’s commitment to enhancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and combating GBV.

The comprehensive approach of this project aligns with multiple SDGs, notably Goal 5 (Gender Equality) and Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being). By focusing on capacity-building and legal reforms, the project underscores the interconnected nature of SRHR and GBV. Improved legal frameworks and better-coordinated services will not only support survivors of violence but also contribute to broader societal well-being and sustainable development.

The second project, ‘Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence Against Women and Girls (PREVAIL),’ focuses on bolstering the Bangladesh Police’s capacity to respond to GBV. By 2026, the initiative aims to enhance the effectiveness of Special Service Desks in 92 police stations across priority districts. This gender-transformative project will provide targeted training on the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for these desks, ensuring that police responses to GBV are both efficient and sensitive.

With UNFPA providing a grant of Taka 731.79 lakh, the PREVAIL project demonstrates a significant investment in public security and gender equality. This initiative, under the Public Security Division and executed by the Bangladesh Police, is poised to improve services for women, thereby advancing SDG Goal 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions). Strengthening police responses to GBV is a critical step in building a safer and more just society for all.

These collaborative projects between the Government of Bangladesh and UNFPA underscore a shared commitment to achieving the SDGs and promoting sustainable development. By addressing SRHR and GBV through comprehensive, multi-level approaches, these initiatives aim to create an inclusive community where women and girls can thrive free from violence and discrimination.

According to the UN Women’s Global Database on Violence Against Women, about 72.6% of ever-married women in Bangladesh have experienced some form of partner violence. The new projects are crucial interventions that not only address immediate needs but also lay the groundwork for long-term, systemic change. As Bangladesh strives towards a future where gender equality is a reality, the support from UNFPA is pivotal in catalysing these transformative efforts.

The Government of Bangladesh’s partnership with UNFPA marks a significant step towards improving sexual and reproductive health rights and tackling gender-based violence. Through these projects, Bangladesh reaffirms its dedication to achieving the SDGs and enhancing the well-being of its people, particularly women and girls.

Source: BSS News
Picture Credit: Ashique Anan Abir/Unsplash

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