Overpopulation, climate challenges and poverty characterize life in the South Asian country. We empower vulnerable women and young people so that they can take up the fight for health care, schooling and fair working conditions.
Population: 159,453,001 inhabitants (2018)
History: Before 1971 it was called East Pakistan. Former dictatorship and since 1992 democracy.
Proportion of the population below the poverty line: 24.3% (2016)
Reading and Writing Skills: 72.9 (2017)
Life expectancy: Men: 71.5 years, women: 75.9 (2018)
GDP per capita: $ 4.2 (number 176 out of 228 countries)
Location measured by prosperity and development: 148 out of 189 countries (Human Development Index 2018)
Sources: CIA World Factbook, UN and Wikipedia
According to a2zgov, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world; over 156 million inhabitants are squeezed together in an area that is a little more than three times the size of Denmark. The capital Dhaka is wildly chaotic and at times it seems as if all 15 million inhabitants are stuck in traffic.
And in the dense crowd, there are strong political, religious and cultural tensions. Recent years have shown examples of human rights activists being arrested, the government restricting freedom of expression on the Internet, Islamist groups emerging and secular and atheist bloggers being killed.
Inter-People’s Cooperation works to increase democratic engagement. Bangladesh has been a democracy since 1991, but it is a weak democracy where people have little opportunity to see through – and far less influence – how the state works and how public funds are distributed. Corruption is widespread. People pay taxes, but few know what the money goes to. At the same time, many multinational companies in Bangladesh are taking advantage of loopholes to avoid paying taxes in the country.
Through capacity building, courses and campaigns, poor and marginalized citizens become aware of their rights and dressed to hold those in power accountable.
And there are many examples of significant progress. For example, the number of children enrolled in the school system is now up to 98 percent. It is the same level as in Denmark.
WOMEN’S RIGHT TO THEIR OWN DECISIONS
Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke has a special focus on giving women and young people opportunities and influence. Cultural norms, job shortages and lack of public services make it difficult for women and young people to assert themselves.
Specifically, International Cooperation, together with partner organizations in Bangladesh , is working to influence local governments to meet women’s demands for, for example, vaccines and medical care, wells for clean drinking water, latrines and proper sanitation. We are also working to prevent child marriages that are prevalent especially in rural areas of the major South Asian countries.
An ongoing effort for Inter-People’s Cooperation is to help the many small farmers in the country develop strategies that can help withstand the climate change that is hitting Bangladesh hard in the form of floods, salt penetration in the rice fields and extreme temperatures. Among other things, homes have been raised 1.8 meters in the air and toilets have been installed to reduce the health risk associated with floods .
In recent years, Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke has also focused on the conditions for people who work under miserable conditions in the textile industry, which often supplies clothing stores in Denmark and the rest of Europe. Conditions that became visible to the rest of the world when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013, killing 1,138 people.
Interfaith Cooperation has an education platform, Global Platform, in Bangladesh ‘s capital Dhaka. Here, young people from Bangladesh and southern Asia are being dressed as rights activists. Among other things, courses in feminist leadership are held. And creative and powerful campaigns are being made that, among other things, targets tax evaders and sexual harassment.