From Ignorance to Empowerment: Case Study of Women Leaders of Grassroot Level

“I came to know what I didn’t use to know,” says Rokeya Begum, a member of Jatiyo Mohila Party. What she did not use to know is her responsibilities and rights of being a party member in the political arena. Bulbuli, Kohinoor, and Sadeka were also going through the same situation. They got over with this ignorance through round table meetings, workshops, and women dialogues arranged by Democracy International under the project of “Democratic Participation and Reform”.

Kohinoor Begum had joined politics in 2002. While being in Jatiyo Mohila Party, she only used to be active during elections when she used to campaign for the party candidates. Rest of the time, she would just sit home and take care of her tailoring business. Jatiyo Mohila Party is one of the many sectors of Jatiyo Party, consisting ­­­­almost 100 women in Meherpur. Members there, like Kohinoor Begum, knew little about their responsibilities and rights. Even if they had enough potentiality to work for the people and the party, they did not know how to approach. They had irregular meetings where they used to discuss how they can add more members in the party. While campaigning during elections, they could not do properly as they did not know how to mix up with people and speak in public. They never realized that they can go further from their position within the party.

Through different training programs and seminars by Democracy International they learned to raise their voice up. They started to claim equality and accountability in decision making. Sadeka claimed why the male party leaders always take decisions according to their will. Members of the mohila party have rights to take part in decision making too. Before, the party leader would only give assurance of their rights, but now their boldness forced them to give them what they want. After attending women dialogue by Democracy International, Meherpur Jatiyo Mohila Party members built up an advocacy group which would make a list of promising female members who are eligible enough to be added in the main committee list of Jatiyo Party. It also created a space where the advocacy group could negotiate with the leading members of Jatiyo Party about adding the female members in the committee list. As a result of the negotiation, about 90 party members from Jatiyo Mohila Party have been added in the main committee list of Jatiyo Party few months ago.

Rokeya, Bulbuli, Kohinoor, and Sadeka are four of those women who have been added in the main committee list. According to them, it would not have happened so early if they did not have the support of Democracy International. “DI has opened our eyes and mouth,” says Sadeka Khatun who learned how to work for the progress of the party and realizes the importance of nominating the right person for an election. The addition into the main committee list also helped in flourishing her NGO, Onirban Mohila Kollyan Songstha. Bulbuli Khatun, a homemaker in occupation, now has plans to serve the people and make progress in different party related issues. After learning about different policies and public speaking, now they can influence more people during election and attract more people in the party through their speeches. People in general have faith in them as well as the male leaders of Jatiyo Party. They are cooperating with them like they do with other members and inform them different party related matters, which they did not use to do before. 

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Female grassroot leaders engaged in Women Dialogue arranged by Democracy International

Members of Jatiyo Mohila Party discovered their inner strength through different programs of Democracy International. They are willing to work for the general people and the party. Now, they are aiming to stand for elections while having the constant support of Democracy International.Leaders

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