Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated nations in the world for its size – with a population of 161 million people and land space equal to the size of the top half of the North Island of New Zealand.
Bangladesh has a child-malnutrition rate twice that of Africa. Thirty-one percent live below the poverty line and the worst affected are women and children. Much of the reason for this is the severe subjugation of women and girls. Traditional practices such as dowries, child marriage and eating last have created a dangerous context for girls and women in Bangladesh. It’s a vicious cycle. The suppression of women is particularly damaging because research shows that when women are empowered, all of society benefits—women do the most to improve health, nutrition and education.
WHAT DOES THE HUNGER PROJECT DO?
We have created initiatives that break the lifelong subjugation of women and girls. This includes Women’s Leadership training that provides intensive education in Gender Equality, and legal/reproductive rights to at least two women per village. These women become a resource to all the women in their village. They also launch campaigns to halt domestic violence and child marriages to transform the environment so women and girls can flourish.
We are the largest volunteer based organisation in Bangladesh.The centerpiece of The Hunger Project’s strategy is the grassroots training and ongoing support of more than 145,000 volunteer animators, 40% of whom are women, who organise mass action campaigns in their areas. The animators focus their actions in their Unions and work closely with the Union Parishad (UP) members to encourage decentralization and increased access to resources. UP-based initiatives include ensuring 100% sanitary latrine coverage, 100% birth and death registration, and open budget meetings to provide transparency and accountability.
Safe School for Girls
Meet Rumi, 14 year old girl from Bangladesh. Girls like Rumi are standing up to injustice and calling for their right to thrive and be heard. When Rumi's parents decided to take her out of school and arrange her marriage, her classmates and teachers took a stand. Supported by their participation in The Hunger Project-Bangladesh's Safe School for Girls Program, they convinced her parents that child marriage is wrong and to allow Rumi to return to school.
Rumi is now studying hard and has a vision to become a doctor. She shares her gratitude for her classmates: "They have made me courageous and I feel safe because of them. I no longer have to worry about child marriage."