Building institutional capacity of selected (4) universities to prevent violence against women (BICUPVAW)

 

Description of the project (in short)

In the absence of an effective policy and legislative framework to combat sexual harassment,it has continued undeterred for more than a decade in Bangladesh. An overwhelming majority of women who have stepped outside their homes in pursuit of education and livelihood have encountered some level of sexual harassment in this country. Flirtatious looks and comments, winking, sexually suggestive comments and gestures, unwelcome and unsolicited prank calls, receiving lewd text messages on the mobile, witnessing pornography, eve teasing, stalking, unwelcome and forced physical conduct of sexual nature including touching, fondling, groping, indecent love proposals, threatening, and intimidation are some common examples of sexual Harassment that women have experienced in public life.

 

Following disturbing and depressing reports by the media and organized protests by the civil society in the wake of increasing incidents of sexual harassment on campus and at workplaces in Bangladesh, Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers Association (BNWLA), invoked the writ jurisdiction under Article 102 of the Constitution for prevention, protection and redress against sexual harassment at educational institutions and workplaces.In response to this public interest litigation filed by BNWLA, a division bench of the High Court delivered a milestone judgment by issuing certain directives in the form of guidelines to be treated as law and strictly compiled by educational institutions and employers in the public as well as private sectors with immediate effect. The verdict is monumental in the context of promotion of gender equality in Bangladesh in as much as it aims to create a safe and healthy working environment for women. By explicitly providing for the guidelines to be treated as law to fill the vacuum created by the dearth of existing policy and law to prevent sexual harassment, the judgment leaves no room for a time gap between the immediate implementation of the Directives and the actual framing and promulgation of a law to this effect. At the same time, working with young people contributes to changing social norms more widely, offers opportunities in which young women can develop their potential to participate fully in the economy and as citizens and leaders.

 

In this regard, Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers Association (BNWLA) is implementing an UN Women funded project Building Institutional Capacity of selected (4) Universities to Prevent Violence Against Women” at BUET, Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University and SUST.

 

This project has aimed to increase capacity of selected tertiary educational institutions and student communities to prevent violence against women following the High Court Directive 2009. Approximate 28000 students (both boy and girls) of above mention universities, 3000 teachers and staff, 4 vice chancellors, 4 pro vice chancellors, 4 registrars, 20 syndicate members’, 4 teacher associations’, 4 student unions’ leaders’ and 10 staff from university grants commission (UCG) will be directly covered by the project. Indirectly the project would also address 8000 campuses adjacent community people.

 

The budget of the project is 61,53,450 BDTfor the period of May 2015-April 2016.

 

Mission/Vision of the project

The key objective of this project is to increase capacity of selected tertiary educational institutions and student communities to prevent violence against women following the High Court Directive 2009. Expected output of the project is a) Four selected (tertiary level) educational institutions have increased capacity to make the premise safer for women and girls and b) Students, faculty and administration in each of the four institutions have increased capacity in developing an overall strategy for engaging the educational community in taking action to address and prevent sexual harassment and other forms of gendered violence.

 

Working areas

Working universities of the project are Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Jahangirnagar University (JU), University of Rajshahi (RU) and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), Sylhet.