The Moharajpur Poschim Purush Mohila Gram Unnyan Shangothon (Male and Female Village Development Organization) was formed with support from DASCOH. Initially we concentrated on water and sanitation activities, but gradually we realized that village development requires a broader approach.
In 2006 we undertook a gender situation analysis to make our participatory village development plans more gender responsive. In the first session we identified the activities done by men and women at home, in the community, and in the CBO. At the end of the meeting both male and female groups agreed that almost 95 percent activities are done at home by women. Even at the community level, women performed many activities which are not recognized earlier by the community. We, the male members of the CBO, also understood the importance of women members’ participation in our activities.
In the second meeting, we collectively tried to find the root causes of this imbalance which conditional and positioned men and women differently within our community. In this meeting we look two decisions. First, we decided to incorporate at least 50 percent women in all committees. Second, we made it mandatory to review the situation of women and men in every monthly meeting. We found that this helped us to understand the position of women in relation to men within the family and also in the CBO. One of our male CBO members said,“ We hardly do anything at home compared to our women folk. Moreover, in the CBO we were hindering the possibility of women’s leadership by not giving them the opportunity to participate in meetings and training programs.’’
After we completed three sessions of our gender situation analysis we learnt that although we have the same number of women in the CBO we failed to give them a chance to participate. We had prepared participatory village development plans before but we had never analyzed our position in regards to our women. We then understood that although we have equal potentiality it is we as men who are exercising all the power and marginalizing the potential of our women.
Over the last two years we have changed ourselves a lot. Now we are helping our wives at home and we really recognize their contribution to our society. The male members of our CBO are in such a position now that they can tell all the men in our community about the importance of inculcating a positive attitude towards women and girls.
With the help of Intercooperation (IC) along with Moharajpur Poschim Shekpara Purush Mohila Gram Unnyan Shangothon, 24 CBOs from three union parishads formed a service provider group, in which we are all represented. In this group we are trying to ensure greater awareness of the potential role that women, as well as men, can play. For instance, women were equally represented last year when we selected poor households for different benefits such as the allocation of livestock, the lobbying with the union Parishad for the Vulnerable Group Development card, the provision of old age pension, and so on.
In this way we are trying to demonstrate how the local communities in Bangladesh ( especially where women lag far behind men) that the benefit to our society is more if we acknowledge women’s social position in all our major social work.