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- Publication of Research Brief “Seeing Like a Citizen – Voice of the People”
Third in the “Seeing Like a Citizen” series, “Voice of the People” attempts to understand how citizens, specifically the poor and women, make themselves heard. The study conducted by the Citizenship research team at BDI indicates that, people are raising their voices to ensure the protection of their rights. They are doing so by participating in local committees and arbitration processes, by strengthening engagement with the local government and elected representatives and by mobilizing protests. What becomes evident is that when spaces are opened up, marginalized women and men take the opportunity to speak out, paving the way for deepening democracy
- Nagorik Adhikar Mela Dialogue
A dialogue was held with the 57 participating organizations of the Nagorik Adhikar Mela on Feb 28, 2010, a month after the fair took place. The purpose of this dialogue was to share the findings from a questionnaire that had been distributed at the 2nd planning meeting with all organizations, asking for information regarding the focus of organizational activities, the strengths and weaknesses of the organizations, the kind of support the organizations require, whether and how the future fairs should be held and whether and what kind of a platform is required for rights based organizations. This information helped to create an identity for the group and draw out the variety of rights that organizations are working on and the support they can gain from each other. Moreover a session was conducted identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the planning and management of the fair in order to facilitate future fairs. That the fair should be held in future as an annual event at the divisional levels was unanimously agreed upon. It was also decided that BDI should take the lead in organizing the fairs as we as a research institute are capable of providing a neutral space where organizations could meet. It was also decided that a formal platform is not necessary at the stage. Experience from future collaborations will decide whether we could be a viable platform to carry out wider campaigns on rights.
- Nagorik Adhikar Mela 2010
A two day fair, ‘Nagorik Adhikar Mela’ was held in partnership with 57 rights-based grassroots development organizations from all over Bangladesh in Shilpakala Academy on January 22-23, 2010. The event was initiated from the Citizenship research and coordinated by BDI. It was the led by the Nagorik Adhikar Mela Organizing Committee. The fair was inaugurated by Justice Habibur Rahman, and speakers included F.H Abed, BRAC, Jostina Nokrek, Modhupur Upazilla Parishad Chairman and Prof. Wahiduddin Mahmud. Apart from stalls showcasing the activities and issues around which these organizations work, events included at the fair were day-long cultural performances by members from the grassroots, videos on rights and the activities of the activities, an exhibition of more than 300 photographs and posters featuring various aspects of citizen rights and a panel discussion on ‘Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Citizenship’. Speakers at the panel included Honourable Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Atiur Rahman, Governor, Bangladesh Bank, Hossain Zillur Rahman, PPRC, Matiur Rahman, Prothom Alo, Mohammed Ibrahim, CMES, Mahabub Hossain, BRAC, Rasheda K Choudhury, CAMPE, Shireen Huq, Naripokkho, Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Bishwa Sahitya Kendra and Khushi Kabir, Nijera Kori. TV and radio interviews as well as press conferences were organized to advertise the event.
- Dialogues with Grameen Bank and BRAC Social Development Programme in 2009
In July and August 2009, separate dialogues were carried out with Grameen bank and BRAC Social Development Programme where specific outcomes from our survey regarding citizenship and rights were shared in a manner which would help them to reformulate or re-focus programmatic interventions. Grameen Bank made a commitment to try and be more pro-active in ensuring the participation of their members in various committees, like school management committees, bazaar committees, etc as a way of promoting citizen rights and making the voice of the marginalized, poor, women heard in decision-making arenas. BRAC SDP found the dialogue useful to negotiate with BRAC for more funding in their programme, such as the Polli Samaj.
- Publication of Research Brief “Seeing Like a Citizen – Grassroots Understanding of Citizenship and Rights”
The second BDI Research Brief titled “Seeing Like a Citizen – Grassroots Understanding of Citizenship and Rights” based on the research of the Citizenship group was published in Nov 2009. The brief provides a nuanced insight into the way rights and citizenship are understood and become meaningful to the people at the grassroots level. It looks at notions of identity, desh, meaning of citizenship, equality of citizenship, meaning of rights, rights important to people and aspirations for future Bangladesh.
- Publication of Research Brief “Seeing like a Citizen –Vision of Shorkar”
The first BDI Research Brief entitled “Seeing like a Citizen –Vision of Shorkar”, based on the research of the Citizenship group was published in April 2009. From the belief that for a democratic nation, it is imperative to understand how citizens view shorkar, this brief attempts to understand the concept of shorkar as it is understood at the grassroots level through an analysis of the perspectives of resource poor people, particularly women. The brief addresses:
- Perception and knowledge of shorkar
- Trust in government institutions
- Expectations from the government
- Shorkaras a force of change
To view the research brief, please see the Publications list (Publications here would be hyperlinked).
- Visit from the Director, IDS, Sussex University
John Gaventa, Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at University of Sussex and the Coordinator of DRC on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability, visited BDI on 15 February, 2009 during his short trip to Bangladesh to share his experiences on using participatory research methods and the ethical dilemmas researchers face in their work. The Citizenship research team briefed him on their current research and discussed plans for the next phase of their work.
- Participatory Video Workshop with research teams at BDI
A three-day participatory video workshop was held with members of different research teams at BDI at the initiative of the Citizenship research team. In this workshop, researchers learnt how to use the camera, create storyboards and shoot short films. More importantly, the researchers learnt how to teach others participatory video-making so that they could hold workshops with their respondents at the time of research. At the end of the three –day workshop, participants produced a short video on “A Day in the Life of Researchers”. It should be mentioned that Citizenship team conducted participatory video workshops with members of Grameen Bank, Nijera Kori, Karmojibi Nari and Bangladesh Sramaibi Kendra during the survey. Each organization produced three short and one long film documenting the rights they are fighting for and the change that has come about due to these efforts. These videos are available at BDI.
- Field workshops – Taking the research back
In August and October 2008, the Citizenship research team held a total of 8 field workshops with Grameen Bank, Nijera Kori, Karmojibi Nari, Proshika, Bangladesh Sromojibi Kendra, Samata, ASA and BRAC in seven different locations across Bangladesh. The workshops were held in Khulna, Kushtia, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Pabna, Faridpur and Bagerhat. The purpose of these workshops was to take back the research findings from the survey which was conducted last year to the areas where the research was undertaken to the people that were involved with it.
At the workshops, the findings were shared with the relevant field staff and members of these organizations in order to get their feedback and validate the analysis of the findings. Additionally the participatory videos that were made by the members during the participatory video workshops we held last year were shown.
- Paper presented at “Colloquium on Citizen Participation and Democratic Engagement” from 27-28 October, 2008 at Bristol, UK
Ms. Simeen presented her paper "Building Citizenship from Below: The Bangladesh Experience" at the Colloquium on Citizen Participation and Democratic Engagement from October 27th and 28th, at Bristol, UK, organized by the University of West England. She also went to Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University where she attended the steering committee meeting of the Development Research Centre (DRC) on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability of which our research is a part. She is presently attending the workshop of the DRC's Teaching and Learning Group to brainstorm and formulate the curriculum for the course on citizenship and development that is planned on being introduced at MDS, BRAC University.
- Panel presentation at “Learning Democracy by Doing: Alternative Practices in Citizenship Learning and Participatory Democracy” Conference at University of Toronto, 16-18 October, 2008
Ms. Simeen Mahmud, Lead Researcher of the Citizenship Research team attended a conference organized by the University of Toronto from 16-18 October on "Learning Democracy by Doing: Alternative Practices in Citizenship Learning and Participatory Democracy". She was a panel member of the plenary on "Citizenship Learning and Participatory Democracy in the World". At this conference, Mrs. Simeen presented her paper "Building Citizenship from Below: The Bangladesh Experience" in the panel on "Democratic learning in public sphere". She was also part of the Roundtable on "Bringing together practitioners and researchers: lessons learned from the experiences of three networks".
- National Dissemination Seminar on ‘Building Citizenship from Below’, BRAC Auditorium, 16 July 2008
The Deepening democracy, Building Citizenship and Promoting Participation research group at BRAC Development Institute held a national dissemination seminar on “Building Citizenship from Below” based on their research findings on 16 July, 2008 at BRAC Auditorium.
Lead Researcher Simeen Mahmud and Lopita Huq presented the key research findings. The short films created by programme beneficiaries of NGOs and MFIs participating in the research through participatory video-making were also screened at the seminar.
The event was chaired by Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, Vice Chancellor of BRAC University, and Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, ProVice Chancellor of BRAC University. Honorable Adviser Rasheda K. Chowdhury was the chief guest at the seminar and Indranil Chakrabarti of DFID and Syed M. Hashemi, Director of BRAC Development Institute addressed the inaugural session.
For regular event updates, please visit the http://www.bracu.ac.bd/bulletin/BRAC University Monthly Bulletins and Annual Reports of BDI