Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh: The Emerging Story of the SII 1
1. Women in Bangladesh
There is common agreement amongst all researchers on gender inequality in Bangladesh that the
root underlying causes lie in ‘the overall gender ideology of Bengali patriarchy, with its systematic
devaluation of women and its denial of their right to an independent existence without male
guardianship’ (Rosario 2004: 28). This ideology, as Rosario notes, is not specifically Islamic, since it
is held in common by the 16% or so of Hindu Bengalis, as well as by the very small populations of
Christian and Buddhist Bengalis.
The diagram below was developed to summarize the background analysis undertaken for one of the
projects highlighted in the Bangladesh SII work (Huq and Hassan 2004: 10). While the project focus
in this case was violence against women, the basic analysis has much broader application.
Fig 1: Underlying Cause Analysis for Violence Against Women (VAW)
Violence Against Women
Manifestation Low Grade Extreme Criminal
Immediate Cause CONFLICT Complex - not
Intermediate Cause Resource Base Interpersonal Social Institutions &
Underlying Cause Women's Subordination
and Male Dominance
If this kind of analysis is broadly agreed with by feminist researchers on Bangladesh, in order to act
upon it, one requirement is an understanding of how the ideology varies in practice, as well as the
Written for the CSPS-CARE knowledge exchange on women’s empowerment research methods,
July 14-15, 2006 at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
ways in which different kinds of forces are bringing about change. Typically Bangladesh is classified
as being more conservative in the half of the country east of the great rivers, and more liberal in the
western half closest to the bulk of India. Thus, in their analysis conducted with communities, Huq and
Hassan noted that in group discussions in Dinajpur in north-west Bangladesh, both women AND men
agreed that the disparity in the rights of women and men created the social imbalance that had
resulted in the widespread nature of gender violence. However, in the conservative north-east Sylhet
area, men disagreed with women who said that the lesser value of women created the problem.
Rather the men felt that equality between men and women cannot be allowed and that men had the
right to discipline wives through violence (Huq and Hassan 2004: 16-17).
Within the last two decades the situation of women has changed. For a start there has been
substantial urbanization – though from the outset it needs to be stated that the SII research in
Bangladesh has not (yet) incorporated the urban context. In the rural context, shifts in poverty and
livelihood trends have resulted in women’s wage labour becoming more critical for household food
security, and thus a loosening of restrictions on women’s mobility. Interventions by NGOs, and their
widespread use of women’s credit groups, have had a further impact, and more recently the kinds of
governance reforms that were initiated in India with the Panchayat Raj federal reforms of the mid-
1990s have begun in Bangladesh, with Union Parishad local administrations now required to have
reserved seats for women. All of these factors have altered social norms and relations, and thus
women’s bargaining power (Kanji, Bode and Haq 2005: 2). Changes for the worse have happened
too. Dowry has grown in size and become a much greater stress for families with daughters, and thus
provided pressure, for instance, for continuing early marriage of girls, even as girls’ education is, on
balance, slowly improving. With such restrictions, women’s voices may be as muted in the household
as they are in public, since their source of power is as a wife, and thus overt conflict with a husband
can only threaten their status. This means agency has to be exercised indirectly, and often through
negotiations with husbands (Kabeer 1998, White 1992; in Kanji, Bode and Haq 2005: 2). In addition
to the broad geographical divide already referred to, women’s situations are influenced too by class,
wealth or income level, age, religion, the household form and size, and the nature of the local political
economy. Since poorer women are more likely to be engaged in income earning opportunities, they
can be more mobile than their better off counterparts (Kanji, Bode and Haq 2005: 3).
This is resulting increasingly in what Rosario terms a ‘disjuncture’ between culture and the economy,
more specifically ‘between the demands of the economy (or the wider social structure) and the
system of values in Bangladeshi society’ (Rosario 2004: 44). The fact that women from many
households need to work means that their increasing presence in ‘the men’s world’ over the last two
decades is more tolerated. Yet because women’s status is still defined in terms of traditional
ideologies of purity and honour (izzat), the upward pressure on families to pay large dowries to
ensure a “good” marriage, has occurred alongside (Rosario 2004: 44). This disjuncture means that
there will remain substantial tensions over the future role and status of women, and their ability to
secure lives free from violence and oppression more effectively.
2. The Strategic Impact Inquiry in Bangladesh
The overall intentions of the SII work in Bangladesh are to provide the country office with a detailed
impact evaluation methodology and a solid understanding of the relative progress it is making with
respect to its advancement of women’s empowerment. Through identifying some of the key
constraints that have thus far limited the impact of work, as well as opportunities for advancing this
work more effectively, it is anticipated that the outputs of the synthesis exercise to be conducted in
September 2006, will be used by the country office in direct ways to improve its programming, as
well as potentially to facilitate changes in the organizational structure that will support this (CARE
Bangladesh 2006: 2).
Of all the country offices that have participated in the SII across CARE International, the process
undertaken in Bangladesh has been one of the most extensive. When the work is completed a total of
$128,000 will have been invested over a two year period, largely in consultant costs. One reason for
this is that CARE Bangladesh has had a portfolio of projects that have focused on women for a
considerable period of time. The Women’s Development Program (WDP) began in the 1980s,
seeking to address women’s basic health needs as well as income generation; whilst recruiting,
training and deploying women staff managers and field workers. When the program ended in 1997,
the organizational landscape had changed considerably with women comprising nearly 65 percent of
field workers and support staff in CARE (CARE Bangladesh 2005: 1). The Rural Maintenance
Program (RMP) that employed women as ‘crew’ in road maintenance work also began at this time,
and for 20 years has operated across every district in the country, with its ending finally occurring in
June 2006. A third project, the Shakti project, that has since evolved into a wider HIV/AIDS
program, began in 1996 by working with the sex-workers of Tangail street brothel. Since then it has
been one of the most exciting and controversial programs that CARE Bangladesh has had.
In 2001 CARE Bangladesh developed a Long Range Strategic Plan (LRSP) that adopted a Rights
Based Approach (RBA). This strengthened the organization’s commitment to promoting gender equity
and addressing women’s poverty, discrimination and marginalization. One consequence has been that
since 2001 the country office has commissioned a variety of studies to understand better the
underlying causes of women’s condition, and as part of this, the various institutional landscapes that
affect their lives. Findings from these studies have helped shape some newer more experimental
projects, as well as methodological adaptation by existing projects in aspects such as participant and
community targeting and in facilitation methods (CARE Bangladesh 2005: 2).
Another important dynamic at the country office level is that since 2002 CARE Bangladesh has been
downsizing and restructuring. It used to have a staff of over 3,000, now with the closure of RMP,
there are under 1,000 people. This is because not only is CARE shifting its modus operandi away
from direct delivery, but its traditional, large funding sources from donors like USAID, DFID, the EU,
and CIDA, are drying up. In early 2006 CARE Bangladesh undertook the development of a new
LRSP, and in this the country office will place greater emphasis on developing a learning culture and
adjusting its structure accordingly. This is thus seen as fundamental to the organization’s future, in
which it will have to establish a more specialized value and operational model quite distinct from the
huge national NGOs like BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) and Grameen. These
organizations draw substantial resources from business activities that started initially from their supply
of rural credit to women but are now extremely diversified. CARE’s budget in Bangladesh, once
comparable with these organizations, is no longer.
The SII work in Bangladesh began in early 2005, when the facilitation group for the SII process
decided to focus on three, relatively new, projects in rural northwest Bangladesh with different
1) Partnership for a Healthy Life (PHL) a project that seeks to reduce the levels of violence
2) Women and Markets, a component of the former Integrated Food Security Program (IFSP)
program, designed to empower women economically and increase their presence in markets;
3) Nijeder Janyia Nijera (Nijera), an initiative that works with poor men and women to articulate
and pursue their own vision of development, and is being implemented by the Social
Development Unit (SDU) of CARE Bangladesh.
These projects were selected since they were pilots from which the country office is seeking to draw
lessons to use in other programs on how to address issues of gender inequity and social exclusion,
and because, being relatively small, it was thought the SII process would be more manageable and
affordable. Chief of the programs to be influenced is the USAID funded Shouhardo (Strengthening
Household Abilities for Responding to Development Opportunities) program, which at present
constitutes some 75% of CARE Bangladesh’s overall program budget.
Since the funding ($36,000) for the FY05 fiscal year was only until June 2005, the SII working
group chose to start the impact inquiry by undertaking both secondary and primary research that
would lay the foundation for the series of impact studies that would happen in the second year. This
work consisted of two parts. The first was a process reconstruction of each of the three projects,
conducted through a literature review and discussions with senior staff. It investigated three sets of
questions. One dealt with the ability of background studies to these pilots to get to grips with the
overall construction of gender and power relations in Bangladesh. The second focused on what the
documentation said about the capacity of CARE’s programming to empower women, and the third
looked at the extent to which the pilots had actually drawn upon the documentation in their
operational practice (Howes 2005: i).
The second piece of work for FY05 was a field based inquiry, conducted in one village of the Nijera
project, and designed to explore:
a) women’s and men’s own views of power and powerlessness and women’s strategies
to negotiate various forms of subordination; and
b) develop methodologies that assist projects / programs, including the SII, within CARE
Bangladesh to gain a better understanding of the micro-politics of gender dynamics
and how to explore what empowerment meant to men and women from different
social and economic backgrounds. (Bode 2005: 3)
Once these pieces of work had been completed, planning for the second year’s actual impact
research began in September 2005, and at this time it was decided to add a fourth project, the afore
mentioned Rural Maintenance Project (RMP), because it would add, in contrast to the others, a much
larger and longer term project.2 With the project ending in June 2006, and with its 20 year, country
wide history, it was felt important that its legacy be more keenly examined. To facilitate the impact
study, a literature review was then commissioned for RMP, as it had been for the other three projects.
A final piece of the SII will be an internal organizational review that will seek to examine the impact of
the change strategy undertaken by the country office, particularly since the 2001 LRSP, to address
internal gender inequity. The findings of this study, together with those from the four field impact
studies, will then be synthesized in an event involving a broader set of country office staff, to provide
a specific set of recommendations for how the country office can improve the ongoing nature and
impact of its work on women’s empowerment (CARE Bangladesh 2006: 2).
3. Research Design: Four Projects and an Organization
The Bangladesh SII work has been characterized by a range of qualitatively based methods, with the
use of forms of triangulation as one of the major ways of establishing rigour. Triangulation has been
of methods (different methods being used to look for similar information), locations (comparative sites
being used within and across the project impact studies), people (different people being asked similar
questions), and researchers (different lead researchers engaging in similar enquiries).
In the first phase of the Bangladesh SII work, conducted in 2005, the most important task was to
gain insights into women’s own understanding of key issues related to gender and power. This
suggested a methodology that would on the one hand examine the perceptions on gender inequity
The Shakti project with sex-workers is likely to be included in a special study that will be done in 2007 as one of the final
pieces of the Women’s Empowerment Strategic Impact Inquiry that will investigate the impact of CARE’s programmatic work
with sex-workers in 3-4 selected countries.
that were being used to guide the CARE Bangladesh projects involved in the SII, and then women’s
views themselves. The key questions that were asked were:
1) What are the underlying assumptions about women in the literature that CARE has
2) How are CARE’s programming approaches and interventions shaped by the bodies of thought
and knowledge that we have commissioned and our organizational culture?
3) How do our programming approaches and interventions intersect with and reflect women’s
own view of power and powerlessness, equity and equality, social inclusion and mobility, and
build upon existing strategies through which women negotiate forms of subordination in their
day-to-day lives? (CARE Bangladesh 2005: 7-8)
Of the two pieces of work that constituted this phase, perhaps the main strength of the literature
review was that it initiated the process of internal discussion that the impact inquiry requires, if it is to
result in changed ways of CARE conducting its work. Three main methods were used to finalize the
report – a review of project literature, discussions with selected staff from the project, and then a
feedback process to receive comments on the draft from internal and external staff involved with the
SII (Howes 2005). In the draft document, the lead consultant produced some strong interpretations
from what he had read on the ability of the projects to advance women’s empowerment, and it was
this that provoked the debate that started the senior staff involved in the projects and the SII thinking
more deeply about the issues involved.
Following the review, the most complex element of the 2005 research was the primary field study,
intended to understand, in particular, women’s perceptions of power, and the areas in which it most
affected and constrained their lives (Kanji, Bode and Haq 2005). This was conducted in Jalagari
village, one of the four initial sites of the Nijera project in Rangpur District, north-western Bangladesh.
In commenting on the research methodology, what is most noteworthy is that considerable
attention was given to the local, and the specific details of local social relations. This also
characterises the way the Nijera project has been implemented, and it sits at odds with the way
in which CARE mostly operates.
Thus for example, three different methods were used in the research:
a) interviews were conducted with 11 women and 11 men to discuss women’s control over
resources, how decisions are made, what decisions they make, and how women seek to
influence decisions made by men;
b) a gender and socialization exercise with a mixed group of 3 men and 3 women from middle
income and poorer households;
c) a workshop, conducted last with 12 women from poorer households, on conflict.
One wholly muslim para, (the term para is used for neigbourhood or hamlet) with 95 households,
grouped in five kin groups (gustis) in the para, was selected in Jalagari for the work. Sampling within
the para was conducted carefully. It was based on a prior well-being grouping exercise which divided
the community into five categories: well-off (12 households); middle (28); lower-middle (18), poor
(28) and very poor (9), the last being all female-headed. CARE’s field facilitators from Nijera were
asked to select women and men from each grouping randomly, sometimes based on additional
criteria relating to household structure and composition. However, in the research report it is identified
that in trying to assess the spread of households that had been included in the study, it was
discovered that women from one gusti had been omitted because the head is conservative and the
facilitators felt that he was likely to have obstructed the interviews. Thus the report notes that, ‘the
first methodological lesson for the SII is therefore to 1) pay attention to sampling within the frame and
criteria laid out, for example, selecting from the actual cards used in the well-being grouping and 2)
note when it is not possible to interview a woman and the reasons why, so that any influence on
study results can be discussed’ (Kanji, Bode and Haq: 2005 3-4).
These comments immediately raise for me the debate around the tension between the local and
the global impact of CARE’s work: to achieve substantial impact on women’s conditions, how
can paying attention to understanding the local, which is valuable but intensive, and thus cannot
be repeated at scale, help with the development of methodologies that can easily accommodate
substantial scale and diversity of contexts? This theme is picked up again in the 2006 impact
studies, both in terms of it being an issue underlying site choices and methodology, as well as it
being a subject of inquiry. As yet, the debate itself remains without clear answers.
The 2006 impact studies are still in progress. Thus far, two of the four field studies have been
completed, with the report for the second still being written. The internal organizational impact review
is due to be conducted in July/ August, a third field study for Nijera will take place in early August,
and the final one for Women and Markets later in the year. Once completed, the full documentation
for each impact study will consist of: a literature review; an analysis, if relevant, of context and of
power and institutional relations; and a study of the project’s impact on the empowerment of women.
All the field studies are being conducted with a core team of 12 staff from the Social Development
Unit, with in addition at least 20 additional staff from other programs gaining exposure to the field
impact research methodology (CARE Bangladesh 2006: 3).
There are almost diametrically opposite distinctions between the two projects for which field impact
studies have been conducted so far this year. The first project, the Partnership for Healthy Life (PHL)
Violence Against Women (VAW) initiative, has been implemented in only two unions in Dinajpur
District in north-western Bangladesh. In contrast, the Rural Maintenance Project (RMP) has been
implemented in most unions in all 64 districts in the country. This massive distinction clearly
influenced the field methodologies selected for each impact study.
The VAW pilot initiative commenced in July 2003 and operates on an annual budget of less than
$50,000. Its original funding ended in 2005, and so for 2006 this was cobbled together from
different sources, because of the value for the broader country office of the learning that was being
achieved. What is unusual about the project is that although small, because it is drawing upon the
analysis shown in Fig 1, it is attempting to address the structural factors which result in women’s
subordination to men, and thus cause violence against women. The impact study for the VAW pilot
initiative was carried out in Ishania Union, where the initiative had started. Because of the sensitive
nature of the subject matter of the project, a careful array of methods was used to triangulate
findings, but with an emphasis on individual interviews, since in these the information provided by
individuals does not become part of the public domain, and thus allows them to speak more freely.
The VAW project is working with all the structures that have an influence on gender violence from the
upazilla or sub-district level downwards (see Fig 4), but in the impact study most time was given to
examining the impact of the project at village level, since earlier assessments had focused more on
the union and the upazilla level above it. In particular, the impact study tried to understand:
the impact of the project’s awareness raising and advocacy activities on attitudes and
behavior of women and men in communities (of different wealth levels, religion and age),
the functioning of the village forums, set up as part of the project since there was no existing
structure at that level to discuss issues related to gender-based violence
how the functioning and outcomes of shalish3, in relation to violence against women, had
been modified by project activities
how individual cases of violence had been dealt with, with an emphasis on the views of the
women themselves who had been affected by violence. (Kanji 2006: 9)
All told the following methods were employed:
a) Project analysis. This incorporated background reading of project documents, as well as
consultation with project staff on the project’s operations.
b) Context analysis of Ishania Union. A basic map of the union was prepared and its history
noted. A power net analysis of political elites was conducted in which two major political
factions operating at union level were identified; four high profile and particularly
problematic shalish cases were identified and reviewed, that illustrated the highly
political nature of shalish when powerful interests are involved and influence the
outcomes; and interviews conducted with NGOs working on women’s rights and violence
c) Group discussions with two of twenty VAW village forums that have been established.
Staff were asked to select a well functioning and a poorly functioning forum.
d) Individual interviews to assess impact of the project, with 18 interviews being conducted
in two paras, one mainly Hindu and one mainly Muslim, from each village (36 in all).
Nine men and nine women were interviewed, drawn from three wealth categories; better-
off, middle and poorer. The interviews were semi-structured in nature, with topics
covering: knowledge of the village forum or other project activities; awareness of
messages; participation in activities; major changes in his/her life in the past few
years; impact of project activities on attitudes and behaviour (own and wider); any
major changes as a result of project (in mobility, confidence, dowry, violence and
any other issue that the respondent raised); and what could be done better.
e) Follow up interviews with 10 women affected by violence, five in each village. In Kanpur,
the village with a better functioning forum, a mix of cases were selected, including some
perceived to have been successfully resolved and some not. In the other village, a small
group of male village forum members selected cases which they felt could be safely
followed up. Care was taken to avoid putting the women in difficult situations that might
Shalish is the village level process of dispute resolution in Bangladesh, and is usually controlled by men.
have repercussions for them, since this had happened in a previous assessment, and in
one instance the interviewers had to withdraw after trying to calm the husband.
f) Focus group discussion on the topics covered in the individual interviews with an existing
women’s savings group that had mixed Muslim and Hindu women.
g) Discussion and project assessment exercise with the union level umbrella shalish group,
which includes Union Parishad members, and during which, in particular, a project
assessment exercise was carried out with women shalishkars. (Kanji 2006: 10-15)
In contrast with the VAW pilot initiative, the impact study for the 20 year old, country wide, RMP
project required a much wider, and therefore coarser net to be flung. Since no literature review had
been conducted, one was commissioned (Sultan 2006), and a meeting was held with 30 of RMP’s
most experienced staff, as a basis for working out the impact study methodology and the selection of
field sites. In this set up workshop, conducted in November 2005, staff were asked to conduct two
major exercises. One was a process reconstruction of the project, with an understanding that this
process had changed over time. And the second was an extensive discussion of the kinds of changes
that the staff felt could still be seen in the lives of at least some ‘graduated’ women, who had now left
the project for some years. Using the global framework, staff were then asked to classify these
changes into the those related to agency, structure and relationships (Haq 2005).
One of the key factors of the process reconstruction, and shown in the literature review, is how the
project evolved from its start solely as a cash for work program for poor women without any means of
support (usually because they were widowed, deserted or divorced, but sometimes because their
husband was disabled). With the work seen simply as a ‘job’, it was unaccompanied by other forms of
training. RMP first started in 1983, but it was only in 1988 that a compulsory savings element to the
wages was introduced and training commenced to help the women become numerate and then start
up business or incoming generating activities (IGAs). After this, a four year cycle was established, so
in 1992, the first women, some of whom had been working on the roads for ten years, were
graduated, and thereafter the four year cycle was adhered to (Sultan 2006: 15-18). Additional
training on health and nutrition and human rights awareness was also added subsequently to prepare
the women better for life after RMP.
To help with the selection of field sites, the final task asked of staff in the November 2005
reconstruction workshop, was to identify two unions in a few operational districts, where it could be
expected that groups of women could be found who had graduated from the road maintenance
associations (RMAs) and whose lives would still show positive change. This was in essence an
appreciative inquiry approach, so that sampling was purposive, seeking to find unions where the
inquiry could explore why women’s lives had improved. Two unions in each of seven districts were
named (Haq 2005).
Field work for the RMP impact study was conducted in May 2006 over a two week period. In the end
just three districts could be covered, the methodology being piloted in two unions in Rangpur district
in north-western Bangladesh, and then the following week, two teams of 8 people covering two
unions in each of two further districts, Chittagong in the south-east and Jessore in the south-west. In
the fieldwork the range of methods used included focus group discussions and individual interviews.
In sequence these were:
a) Focus group discussion with members of the selected group of graduated women – in most
cases 6-7 of the 10 women were available for this – to look at the changes that have
happened in their lives during and after their time in the RMAs.
b) Focus group discussion with members of the Union Parishad, including members of the
oversight Project Management Committee (PMC), to ask them about the history of RMP in
the union, the role of the UP and PMC in the project, and then the kinds of changes that have
happened in the lives of women who have been part of RMP, as well as what has changed in
the lives of women more broadly in the community.
c) Individual interviews of two sorts. First with all members of the graduated group, that sought
to establish their life histories and the changes that had happened in their lives during their
time as RMA members and after they had graduated. And second, interviews with selected
members of the UP and PMC that sought to establish their involvement with RMP (since
RMP had also undertaken capacity building at the UP level), and their views of change in the
lives of the RMP women and the extent to which they felt RMP had had any broader impact.
d) Focus group discussions with additional groups of women to undertake an analysis of wealth
groups and changes in the lives of women who were not part of RMP.
e) In the second week of work, some men and female and male children of graduates were also
interviewed, in order to find out how their lives had been affected by their mother's (or women
more broadly, in the case of the men) involvement in RMP.4
Finally, an important part of the methodology for this impact study was the internal process used
within the research team, whereby members were encouraged to reflect upon and analyze the
principal findings themselves. They were asked to undertake this in two principal ways. One was to
identify what they thought were the major changes that had occurred in women’s lives, these changes
in effect functioning as indicators, and to cluster these in terms of the agency, structure and
relationships categories. In each research area there was an attempt to synthesize a set of indicators
from the findings, and one task of the final report will be to compare these across the three districts.
Second, the staff were asked to identify what they thought were the major implications of the findings
if CARE Bangladesh was to improve the impact of its work on women’s empowerment in the future.
They were asked to make these recommendations not specific to RMP, since the project was closing.
4. Key Findings: From Promoting Agency to Achieving Structural Change
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the SII findings of the work conducted so far in Bangladesh is
the evolving understanding of the factors most critical for women’s empowerment, and the kinds of
strategies that are required for this to take place.
During the first year’s work, the focus of the research was on understanding what are the major
issues for women with respect to empowerment. Thus, a key conclusion of the report on the Jalagari
work is that key gender issues that should be examined for impact include:
Women’s access to and control over income and material assets
Mobility and women’s participation in the public sphere, including access to services and
Marriage and dowry
Information on the RMP impact study is taken from field documentation. This is the one field study in which the author
Women’s access to justice and how practices around justice are shaped by the larger
Women’s political participation. (Bode et al 2005: 15)
In addition, it was suggested that further analytical work in FY06 should be disaggregated in
relation to class, income, age, religion and household structure and composition. It was also
noted that the stage women are at in their life cycle and their social position within households
has an important bearing on their authority, autonomy, household status and livelihood options
(Bode et al 2005: 15).
When the information from the Bangladesh literature review and the preliminary field analysis were
being discussed at the first year’s global synthesis meeting for the SII in London in July 2005, one of
the ah-ha moments in the research was reached when discussion switched to the topic of
empowerment being not a once and for all phenomena. On the contrary, changes in human condition
are all too often extremely reversible. Thus a key question for the overall framework is, what kinds of
indicators of empowerment might be more enduring than others? Are these structural and relational
indicators, rather than agency related indicators? Or, in addition, can agency level indicators also be
divided between those that are more material and those that are more psychological?
In relation to this question, between the London workshop and the commencement of the first impact
study in January 2006, there was discussion in the Bangladesh SII team on the extent to which the
set of issues identified from Jalagari should be used as indicators in the field studies, as well as the
extent to which the global indicator framework, with its 23 sub-dimensions should be drawn upon.
The consensus agreed was that since context mattered, indicators should be identified through the
research process in each impact study, and then compared across the studies and different
geographic locations for the lessons and recommendations on how CARE Bangladesh could use
indicators of women’s empowerment.
In dealing with the findings from the two field impact studies conducted thus far in 2006, it is probably
best to start with the second study, that of the RMP, as it sets the backdrop for the smaller initiatives.
It is important to note that a great deal of CARE’s external reputation in Bangladesh stems from RMP,
because of its long history and country wide nature. For outside researchers RMP forms a key part of
an analysis of changes in women’s rural wage labour employment in Bangladesh (e.g. Kabeer 1998),
since when the project began few rural women were permitted to work outside their homes. In the
start up of the VAW project too, it was easier for CARE to gain the support of the UP chairman in
Ishania because of his prior experience with RMP.5
For the SDU and RMP staff of around 20 people participating in the RMP impact study, one of the
most obvious findings was that programs need to be addressing all three dimensions – agency,
structure and relationships, if more enduring empowerment of women is to take place at scale.
Despite its country wide coverage, and despite the women participants in RMP being grouped into
road maintenance associations, the ability of RMP to address all these three dimensions has been
severely weakened because the RMAs do not function as solidarity groups, where there is emphasis
on how the women support each other to start to address wider issues. This is because each union
has only one association being supported at a time, and membership of this association is drawn from
eligible women (i.e. those either widowed or divorced, or considered destitute for lack of their
husband’s ability to work), across the whole union. When the project first started in the late 1980s,
and the widespread taboos then on women working outside the home, it was hard to find enough
women who qualified and volunteering for the RMAs, for the 10 member RMA in each union to be
filled (Sultan 2006). Since then, the numbers of women working outside rural homes has grown
substantially, fueled for one by poverty, according to participants in focus groups during the RMP field
research. This means that recent selection of RMA members has been done by lottery from eligible
applicants, which in the six unions included in the impact study, could be 300 women or more. Yet,
despite this growth of numbers, the RMA model remained as a group of 10 women with no common
residential location. It is not wholly clear from the literature review why this has been the case, though
at least in part it appears because from the early 1990s on each occasion the strategy was
renegotiated with CIDA, the principal donor, the emphasis appears to have been on the ever
changing plans for handover of the program to the government (Sultan 2006).
The three field sites included in the RMP impact study had some distinct characteristics. In Rangpur,
in north-western Bangladesh, the leadership of the two Union Parishads was the most enlightened
encountered. One, in particular, had a highly supportive (male) Union Parishad chairman. This was
the only UP to list changes that had taken place due to capacity building by CARE (through RMP)
that included: democratic decision making; both men and women members views given equal
Nazneen Kanji, anecdotal
importance during decision making; women members able to express their views freely and take part
effectively in decision making (Record of Pairabandh UP meeting).
At the end of the fieldwork in Rangpur District, the combined team, through a processing exercise,
listed the following as the major changes they felt had occurred in the lives of the RMA graduates,
who in one union had graduated a year earlier, and in the other, three years earlier.
Sustainable increase in income by involvement in different IGA activities
Increase in social status
Creation and ownership of assets
Increase in mobility
Decrease in vulnerability
Increase in decision making power of RMA woman both at household and community level
Increased awareness on different issues
In terms of where the lacuna were regards RMP, the research team felt that although there had been
a short-term strategy to create awareness on different issues like dowry, domestic violence, and child
marriage – some basic awareness training had been provided – a long-term strategy for influencing
the larger community had been lacking. Some recommendations the team made from the Rangpur
work, which at this point they were still casting mostly at project level, were:
Capacity building of Union Parisad member on social issues.
Linking the RMA women with different government and NGO institutions during the training
Instead of implementing it all over Bangladesh, the project should have been implemented in few
of the most backward districts of Bangladesh. It would have created a much larger impact on the
RMP members should have been collectivized in-group whenever it was possible. A common
fund could have been formed at group level which could have been used by the members for
expanding their IGA activities.
More structured and longer duration follow up should be undertaken with the graduated RMA
Skills training for the RMA women on handicraft could have been organized.
Activities should have been arranged for creating awareness among the village women using the
RMA woman as resource persons.
CARE Bangladesh should have prepared a detailed phase out strategy with clear cut milestones.
RMP has mostly worked on agency and relationship level but it has failed to address the
When the other two sites were added, the research team could start to visualize the project’s impact
in a comparative way. The Chittagong area in the south-west is known as being more conservative.
The city of Chittagong is, however, the financial centre of Bangladesh. What was found in the impact
study is that the area is permeated by a stronger emphasis on ‘business’ than occurred in Rangpur.
Thus, when compared with Rangpur, the following were among the conclusions reached by the team.
Women are much more involved in business.
Their economic condition is better than in Rangpur.
They have a greater range of economic opportunities.
They have access to more resources (including natural resources and markets).
There is much less involvement of the RMA women with the UP after graduation; men keep
closer political control and women see it as not being their role.
Women are also little involved in shalish.
Education level of children higher.
Less early marriage.
In one union there are more remarriages of RMA graduates – the mainly Muslim union with a
high rate of immigrants, is also a more remote, hilly area with a higher concern for personal
Skills being obtained by RMA women from training are not being disseminated in the para (there
is some in the gusti).
Much less involvement of women in agricultural day labourer work, though they are involved in
some processing activities like threshing.
What surprised the team initially in the Chittagong area was the ready acceptance by men of women
becoming more mobile for business purposes. But valuing economic enterprise appears a greater part
of the culture in this region. Women still undertake limited agricultural work outside the para (hence
their involvement only in work like threshing), and there is a clear demarcation between economic
and social political space. Thus women’s role within the UP is much more limited than had evolved in
the unions in Rangpur.
The third site, Jessore, retained some of the more liberal elements of Rangpur, but with a stronger
emphasis too on economic enterprise, given the district’s close proximity to the Indian border, and its
location on the major transport route linking Kolkata and Dhaka.
On completion of the three district fieldwork, the whole research team engaged in one further day of
reflection on the exercise. At this point, when asked to summarise implications for CARE Bangladesh
of the impact study, the team generated a set of recommendations substantially more strategic in
nature than that of a week earlier.
Strengthening UP governance (women members, accountability, people’s participation).
Build organisations of poor women to address different issues, and facilitate the organisation of
these groups into a federation to ensure their rights, social justice and to combat VAW.
Work with men also.
Analyse and include gender issues in the project design.
Addressing wider social issues (holistic approach, linking economic and social issues).
Policy advocacy for greater structural changes.
Providing business development services.
Addressing social aspects as well as economic empowerment; include in strategy design.
Expanding the approach of RMP more broadly in the community, e.g. RMAs could work as
facilitators for extending the work, including men and the rich.
Build linkage with organisations who will provide legal support to stop violence (against the poor
as well as women).
Implement long term programs to improve livelihoods of poor women.
Working with adolescent boys and girls especially on social issues e.g. dowry, early marriage etc.
Engaging of whole community for utilisation of local resources.
Capacity building and linking on marketing.
It perhaps seems odd that in this short outline of the RMP impact study I have focused more on the
evolving understanding of the research team on what they are doing and the implications thereof,
than on the actual impact findings. But the fact that after just two weeks a research team of largely
field based staff can produce such a strategic set of recommendations, illustrates, I believe, the
potential for CARE Bangladesh to become substantially more effective in its women’s empowerment
work, as well as the kind of capacity building of staff that is required more broadly to make this
A list of impact indicators generated by the Jessore team from their work is included as Figure 3 to
illustrate the kind of indicator framework it will be possible for the final research report to produce.
More detailed analysis of RMP’s impact in the six unions will also take place in this report. One note
is that although in selecting sites there was a deliberate attempt to find unions where the graduated
women were demonstrating changes in their lives, it is quite likely that the kinds of changes
documented are widespread, although the impact study will not prove this. But there is a further
lacuna to be noted: I am conscious that in this condensed summary, the voices of the women in RMP
has not emerged, even though it is the voices and imagery of these women that is the most potent
memory of the fieldwork. These women, who scatter the countryside, are also the legacy of RMP.
What is remarkable is their fortitude, resilience and courage. Many talked about how in the early days
of RMP, they would receive demeaning comments whilst working on the roads, but that this kind of
attitude changed as wider awareness grew of the income and savings they were generating. But this
is not the most remarkable factor. I was struck profoundly by the choice they have to make about
whether they gamble again on seeking a relationship with a man that will provide security, especially
once they have graduated after their four years in a RMA. Do they stay single, in order to ensure they
retain control over the assets they have gained, or seek greater security by remarrying, but run the
risk of landing a man who will take control of the assets – and as happened in at least one case
study – then run? Sabitri Roy, is one of these women, a Hindu woman, living in a mainly Muslim
para, in Rangpur. In the initial focus group discussion she was very vocal, more so than all the
others, but in the interview at her home, her underlying vulnerability was striking. A neighbour
remarked of her, ‘She was not even aware of the days in a week before joining RMP but now she has
become aware about the different issues affecting her life’. Sabitri’s husband abandoned her, and she
still hears stories of him occasionally, so he is likely still alive. So she could not (yet) remarry, but
even if she were in a position to, she would not: as she noted, Hindu marriages are expensive. What
has changed in her life? Since graduating she has secured a regular income as a community forestry
guard; she has built a room for herself; repaid an old debt of her husband; is educating her daughters
(and hopes the elder will marry well, since a good son-in-law is her future security); and her status
has improved, people now invite her to functions (since she can provide a gift), and she participates
in shalish in her village, giving her voice freely. Personally, Sabitri feels there is ‘a day and night
difference’ in herself; now she is much smarter.6 But in her home, the garrulousness Sabitri exercised
in the focus group meeting, comes across for what it is; an indicator that she is indeed more
confident, but an indicator too of the mask she has taken on that hides the underlying vulnerability
that remains in the status of herself and her daughters.
This was put another way by a woman member of the research team who reminded us all when there
was discussion of the question, ‘Can marriage be empowering?’, that there is need to look at all
phases in the life cycle of a woman to see the influence of different men: her father, then husband,
then her sons. The reaction of sons, who were paid more attention in the second week of fieldwork,
was mixed, but there were some who felt that although their mother had done well as a widow,
saving and investing in their own education, now that they as sons were married and earning an
income, their mother could now return to staying at home more. RMP has left a broad, if scattered,
legacy, but it has not addressed structural factors.
It is the contrast it offers to this that makes the VAW pilot initiative an interesting project. Although it is
extremely small and functioning only in two unions, its attempt to address structural factors is
unusual, as is the complex institutional strategy developed as part of this (see Fig 4). As noted in the
impact study report, the initiative has undertaken several kinds of activities that were not attempted at
all within the RMP strategy.
The project has made systematic efforts to transform social structures to make them more
likely to promote women’s rights, and has worked with informal and formal institutions to make
space for women to participate. Attention has been paid to working with men as well as
women, recognizing the need to change men’s attitudes, particularly those of elite men who
wield significant power in local political and social relations. Engaging men is also important in
trying to build alternative male role models. The advocacy work through folk songs and drama
is also an effective and popular communications tool for project messages, although more
attention should be paid to groups who may be excluded from these messages. (Kanji 2006:
Compared with the RMP that has had over 600 staff, the VAW pilot has had only three full time field
staff, and two part time managers, responsible for the pilot strategy, one of whom has also worked
extensively in the field. As noted in the above extract from the impact study report, the project has
weaknesses with respect to the comparative lack of attention it has paid to issues of inclusion and
exclusion at the local level. Thus, little attention has been given to the class and ethnic membership
of the VAW Village Forums (VFs), the basic units the project has established. Unlike almost all other
projects focused on promoting women’s empowerment, the VAW initiative does not seek to build
women’s agency, through strengthening or supporting women’s groups. Even if lacking the direct
resources, the project has not sought to link with other NGOs operational in the same area, even
though there are other agencies also addressing gender violence. The impact study notes that ‘the
project has created spaces for women’s voices and participation in VFs, in the specialist groups, and
in shalish’, but that the women occupying these spaces are those who already have the confidence to
participate in the public arena (Kanji 2006: 36).
An element of the VAW impact study was to identify the two major political factions operating within
Ishania Union and the attitudes of their leaders towards the VAW initiative. The faction in power, that
of the present UP chairman, was more supportive of the initiative than the other faction, some of
whose leaders, annoyed at the intervention of a legal services NGO, had played a blocking role in
individual VAW cases that Village Forums had attempted to pursue. From my perspective, I find it
indicative of the structural impact the initiative has attempted to make that the elites in the union are
all fully aware of the project and are not agnostic towards it; in short, issues related to women’s
unequal power and abused rights have been raised in ways that have forced reactions.
In an earlier visit to the VAW project, I was struck by two elements. One was the way in which the
moral argument that violence against women was contrary to their culture and therefore should be
eliminated, had been used consistently and systematically by the project to create the case for
changing men’s attitudes and behaviours. Second, was the conscious emphasis on enlarging power
rather than seeing it in a zero sum way. The following is an extract from field notes7 of a discussion
with a mixed group of village forum and UP members.
‘Question on power and the way it is seen.
Man: I support changing the way power is seen, and the process whereby it is used. Until now men
have consumed this power.
Q: Why don’t you transfer this power to women?
Man (continuing): This would lead to fights... this would be war. It is better to change attitudes.
Woman: It is not a sustainable solution to transfer power from men to women. The rights and dignity
of men as well as women require this attitude to change. If men and women respect each other
equally this will contribute better to household income. Everyone’s potential will be respected equally,
and this will lead to the household being better off, not just economically, but also as a family. There
will also be happiness and love. If we respect each other equally, if we value each other, then there
will be love and happiness. Rather than taking power away, it is preferable to talk of the
empowerment of women so that they have equal power.
An older woman who had been listening to the discussion inside came out and wanted her say: Yes,
the clash between men and women is important, but the more serious problem is dowry. Can you tell
us how this will be rooted out?’
In the impact study there was an attempt to identify specific empowerment indicators and seek trends
with regard to these and any attribution that could be given to project activities. A clear idea of some
positive trends taking place in relation to different dimensions of women’s empowerment was provided
through the individual interviews.
‘Notes on conversations about gender violence, power and love’, September 2005.
More girls are attending school and people’s levels of education have increase in general. The
government and NGOs facilitate this and people are more aware of the need to educate both
boys and girls.
Women are more mobile (both Muslim and Hindu) and people are less negative about this
than in the past.
In general, women’s confidence and awareness of their rights is higher than it used to be.
This was related to greater education, mobility and the work of NGOs.
Many respondents said that there are some positive generational changes taking place, with
younger men less likely than older men to engage in polygamy, wife beating and ‘easy’
divorce. (This final comment came from Muslim respondents and is related to the ease with
which men can divorce their wives in religious law)
There is much greater awareness of the fact that dowry is illegal, and that it is a major cause
of violence against wives. However, dowry payments (the amounts involved) are increasing.
There is increasing awareness that early marriage is not advisable: and people could describe
the negative repercussions on the young woman’s health and on their abilities to manage
household tasks and relationships. However, parents have to cope with increases in dowry,
as girls get older and/or better educated; and there is the issue of physical safety and
security for adolescent girls and young women – which counter this trend. (Kanji 2006: 26)
In analyzing attribution for these changes, the impact study attempted to tease out answers as best
as could be done. For instance, in Kanpur, half the interview respondents felt that it was not possible
to attribute the positive changes which had taken place to the VAW initiative per se, but rather that it
had contributed to a generally positive trend, reinforced by the work of NGOs, the media, and the
influence of children at school and college. The other half, however, did identify the project as a
particular contributor to reducing violence and early marriage. Similarly, one woman respondent said
that the project had led to women becoming involved in shalish, whilst in the second village nine (of
18) respondents felt they could relate specific changes to the VAW initiative. They said that the
repeated messages in the folk songs and dramas developed by the project with youth groups, have
had very positive effects in their village in reducing early marriage and incidents of violence against
women (Kanji 2006: 26-27).
The final attempt of the impact study to attribute to the project change on a set of issues related to
women’s empowerment was carried out through asking the two village forums, and then the women
shalishkars at the UP level, to conduct a ranking exercise. Of the two village forums only
Figure 2: Assessments of Project Impacts
4 Kanpur VF
the Kanpur forum completed the exercise (in the other forum three men prevented women from
expressing their views though after a while the women indicated they did not support the statements
being made), as did the women shaliskars. Each identified the issues on which the project had been
working and then rated impact from -5 to +5, although neither group used a negative rating. Some
issues identified are not in the figure, including a reduction of divorce, which the shaliskars group
included and ranked 4. For dowry, the vexed social problem raised by the woman at the end of the
discussion on power, negligible change was seen as having taken place. However in the earlier
meeting where the subject had been raised by the woman at the end of the discussion on power, one
man present had spoken of refusing dowry in the recent marriage of his son. In addition, the same
man and then two women spoke of both refusing marriage proposals for their daughters, who were
still at school, as well as stating they would refuse to provide dowry in their future marriages, rather
this money would be invested in the girls’ education instead, so they could become more
independent. One of the girls concerned, who was at the back of the group then said: ‘My age is 16.
If my marriage was arranged now it would be an early marriage and against the law. I wrote my
exams and failed in one subject. If I continue my efforts I will succeed in my education.’8
‘Notes on conversations about gender violence, power and love’, September 2005.
5. Concluding Discussion:
There are two subjects I would like to return to in the conclusion, and the scale question, to which the
above discussion returns us, is part of both. One is that of methodology in the impact assessment
process, and the second is that of methodology in CARE Bangladesh for promoting women’s
empowerment more effectively.
I’ll begin with the first subject, and in doing so reflect a little on the strengths and weaknesses of the
(still incomplete) overall impact inquiry process in Bangladesh. What has been the quality of the
process and its outcomes? Perhaps the most obvious response is that the SII has been and remains
a learning process. The quality of the research and its outputs are one thing, how people are involved
in the research process and how what is learned individually and collectively is used, is another.
Of the three questions that have been set for the whole Knowledge Exchange, one asks, ‘can impact
research be empowering and rigorous?’ In the Ecuador case, the women involved in refuse collection
were involved in the impact study. This has not been done so far in Bangladesh, though the Nijera
impact study will offer an opportunity to involve women more directly. However, in considering the
question there are two levels to it, that of staff, particularly women staff, and then poor and
marginalized women themselves. For staff, and this was very clearly the case with those from RMP in
their impact study, the process has been extremely empowering. Many of those participating were
part of RMP’s field monitoring team, used to undertaking participatory exercises but unused to
reflective processes. They displayed obvious enthusiasm – and pride – in being part of a process that
gradually deconstructed RMP and attempted to reach its core: what long term impact had it had on
the lives of the women who had participated in it. Together with the more experienced SDU staff, they
worked exceptionally long hours in the intense two week time frame, and took pleasure in their
expanding capacity to analyze what they were doing in a comparative framework, and identify the
broader implications for the organization.
At the second level, women in society, at the end of the definitional fieldwork conducted in the first
year in the Nijera project area, 12 women from poorer households were brought together with staff to
participate in a workshop to examine issues of power, conflict and violence. During the workshop the
women became increasingly comfortable in talking about their experiences and how violence is part of
their lives (Bode 2005: 13). They began to discuss strategies they used to address gender violence,
and so provided an opportunity to learn from each other. In this sense Nijera, whose full name means
‘we for ourselves’ is a project which explicitly sets out to encourage poor rural men and women to
articulate their own experiences of poverty, disempowerment and social exclusion; to build their own
analysis of the power structures and belief systems through which their present situation is
reproduced; and to enable them to identify and act upon their own agendas for action (Howes 2005:
In contrast with the Nijera first year study and the VAW impact study, the RMP impact study used a
cruder methodology, especially in terms of its sampling, in order to try and achieve a comparative
understanding of impact on women’s empowerment across at least a diversity of contexts in the
country, in the two week study period that resources allowed. Clearly little in the way of broad
statements can be made from the study about what RMP has or has not achieved nationally in terms
of women’s empowerment – except to say that its legacy is, perhaps surprisingly, probably greater
than CARE Bangladesh realizes.
Two other questions have also been asked for the whole Knowledge Exchange: how does research
feed the disconnects between women’s lived realities and gender policies? And, can research
challenge gendered power inequalities within the development industry? On the first question,
the issue of the scale at which the work is conducted returns, but I think an answer lies in that
both locally specific research that does develop nuanced understandings, plus research
conducted at a larger, and thus more convincing scale, in terms of the breadth of changes that
have taken place, are important. Thus, although particularly when the research with the Nijera
and VAW projects was conducted, the research teams wanted ‘indicators’ to come from the
research as outputs, and not to be inputs (and this was even the process followed in the RMP
study), it is important that CARE Bangladesh becomes comfortable in agreeing upon some set
of indicators more regularly across the organization. This can still be done in a way in which
indicators are not merely imposed, but across the three very different field studies there are
clearly some common indicators, and another band that are more or less common, and these
indicators are important to most women with whom CARE works.
On the final question, can CARE Bangladesh use their work to challenge inequalities within the
development industry in Bangladesh, that is something that needs to be considered critically during
the country synthesis meeting when how the work is used is discussed. The work can be used to
challenge policies and ways of living and working in the country, but how this might be done, and the
extent of a commitment the country office can make to doing this, will need to be carefully
Now to the second of the two subjects for the conclusion, that of the implications of the impact
research for CARE Bangladesh itself. Most critically, the impact studies are providing a means to
understanding what is required for greater levels of women’s empowerment to be achieved, in more
resilient ways, and how this can be facilitated. With regard to the comparative merits of the kinds of
methodologies that CARE Bangladesh has used in its programs to advance women’s rights, the point
that stands out most strikingly is the extent to which the country office has used methodologies that
work largely with women as individuals (even if they are grouped for training), rather than have a
greater emphasis on generating solidarity amongst women. There are reasons why there has been a
comparative lack of emphasis on solidarity groups in Bangladesh, largely rooted in the huge influence
of the few extremely large, national NGOs, whose business model is at least in part dependent on
their maintaining indefinite relationships with groups of women who receive credit and remain clients,
rather than going on to take greater control of their lives. In this model there is thus less emphasis on
the empowerment of women to take greater control of their lives. But if women’s empowerment is a
goal, as Kanji notes,
While it is essential to work with elites in the context of Bangladesh in order to begin to
change social structures, and the issue of gender-based violence cuts across class and
religion, it is important to build confidence and countervailing power among the most
disadvantaged women, through collective strength and solidarity. History has shown that
collective organisation on the part of oppressed groups can change structures and strengthen
rights. (Kanji 2006: 36)
It is in this direction that CARE Bangladesh needs to move, if it is to extend its ability to support
women’s empowerment in broader and more effective ways. Moreover, as parallel SII research in
India has shown, across the border in West Bengal, 9 there are examples of working this way that can
For example, CARE India has developed a solidarity group approach with local partners in four states of India, including
West Bengal, in which women’s cell groups are clustered in federations, and through which some women have begun to
achieve significant social political change at the local level – given too, that the Indian context offers more immediate
be learned from. This raises questions of how CARE learns, not only within but across country
offices, and how it uses this learning to influence others. If the SII research can be used to offer and
generate practical ways of overcoming these shortcomings, it will have played its role in achieving
structural change within the organization too.
opportunity for this. (Drinkwater, Michael, 2006, ‘Moving out of the Kitchen: The potential of the self-help group movement
in India – A report on reflective practice evaluations of CASHE’, draft report)
Bode, Brigitta, 2005, ‘Strategic Impact Inquiry on Women’s Empowerment: Field research
component’, CARE Impact Measurement and Learning Team, Atlanta.
CARE Bangladesh, 2005, ‘CARE Bangladesh, Strategic Impact Assessment research
proposal’, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
CARE Bangladesh, 2006, ‘Strategic Impact Inquiry in CARE Bangladesh, FY06’, CARE
Haq, Anowarul, 2005, ‘Strategic Impact Inquiry Workshop with RMP Staff’, CARE Bangladesh,
Howes, Mick, 2005, ‘Gender, Power and CARE’s Programming in Bangladesh: A literature
review and preliminary consultation with staff conducted under CARE International’s
Strategic Impact Inquiry, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
Huq, Nasreen and Hassan, Saheda, 2004, ‘Violence Against Women: Report of the needs
assessment study for violence prevention’, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
Kabeer, Naila, 1998, ‘Money Can’t Buy me Love? Re-evaluating Credit and Empowerment in Rural
Bangladesh’, IDS Discussion Paper 363, IDS, Brighton, UK
Kanji, Nazneen, 2006, ‘Partnership for Healthy Life, Violence Against Women Initiative, Dinajpur
District, Bangladesh: Strategic Impact Inquiry’, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
Kanji, Nazneen, Bode, Brigitta, and Haq, Anowarul, 2005, Women’s Empowerment -
Perceptions, Boundaries and Strategies in Jalagari Village, NW Bangladesh: A study for
CARE Bangladesh to inform the Strategic Impact Inquiry (SII) on Women’s
Empowerment’, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
Rosario, Santi, 2004, ‘Building Solidarity Against Patriarchy’, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
Sultan, Maheen, 2006, ‘Strategic Impact Inquiry – Process reconstruction of the Rural Maintenance
Program (RMP) through literature review and staff interviews’, CARE Bangladesh, Dhaka.
White, Sarah, 1992, Arguing with the Crocodile: Class and Gender Hierarchies in a Bangladeshi
Village, Dhaka, UPL.
Figure 3: Agency, Structure and Relationship Analysis
Union: Monirampur and Laxamanpur
Indicators Agency Structure Relationship
Leadership They have no fear, M-5/5,L- - -
Increased vocal ness, M-5/5,-
Control over Controlling their assets, M- - -
Regular savings, M-5/5,L-6/6
Maintain own accounts, M-
Mobility Able to move around, UP and - Used to go to - Participate to
around, M-3/5,L-5/6 Thana, UP, UNO, M- minimize household
Able to manage job/work, M- 4/5,L-4/6 conflict, M-3/5,L-
- Help others to go
to different office, M-
Food Security 12 months food security, M-5/5,L-6/6 nil Nil
quality of good food has increased, M-
Awareness -Used to work by wage M-5/5, L-6/6 -Able to stop early
- Joining adult education, M-1/5, L-0/6 marriage M-1/5, L-
-Provide suggestion to household 0/6
members, M-5/5,L-6/6 - Using sanitary
- Increased awareness about health M- latrine and drinking
5/5,L-6/6 safe water M-5/5,L-
Status -Having ornaments and furniture M- -Getting social -Getting credit from
5/5,L-4/6 Invitation M-5/5,L- shopkeeper M-
-Built tin shade house M-5/5,L-6/6 6/6 5/5,L-6/6
-Wearing good clothes M-5/5,L-6/6 -Social acceptance -Inviting others M-
-Increasing income M-5/5,L-6/6 is increasing M- 5/5,L-6/6
-getting respect M-5/5,L-6/6 5/5,L-6/6
-Schooling of children M-5/5,L-6/6
Decision Manage business independently M- nil Nil
-Taking own decision independently M-
Participation -Attending shalish but not playing active nil Nil
Access to Involved in NGO for savings and credit-
Figure 4: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN INITIATIVE: ORGANISATIONS AND THEIR INTENDED FUNCTIONS
VAW CO- HEALTH
A ORDINATING SERVICES
Guidance in SELLING
WOMEN VAW CO-
D MEMBERS ORDINATING
Organising and refer as
necessary. Record H
Raising awareness of gender,
women’s rights and law relating to
Pre-existing organization Previously inactive Created under initiative Input (see next page)