Women’s Health Rights and Choices (SHOKHI)

Project Period: 1 December 2013 to 31 March 2018

Working Area: Dhaka: Mohammadpur, Mohakhali, Mirpur

Donors: Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands

Consortium Partners: Bangladesh Legal Aid and Servicer Trust (BLAST), Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition (BWHC) and Marie Stopes Bangladesh (MSB), We Can Alliance.

Website: SHOKHI

Context: Women living in urban slums face four main obstacles to the realisation of their rights:

a) Gender discriminatory attitudes and social norms. Widely pervasive patriarchal attitudes and gender stereotypical norms perpetuate and condone violence against women and girls and prevent their access to services and employment.

b) Lack of awareness about health and legal issues. Poor health rights and violations of legal rights are exacerbated by women's lack of awareness about their rights as well as barriers to accessing their rights in the family, the community and the workplace.

c) Gaps in protection of women's rights. Hospitals, lawyers, police stations and other services are usually male-dominated and frequently un-cooperative, with limited or no gender-sensitive practices.

d) Constraints on women's access to services. Women find health and legal services to be inaccessible due to distance, cost, and the lack of a 'one stop shop' for services.

Increase social and economic empowerment of women living in 15 slums in the Mohakhali. Mirpur and Mohammadpur areas of Dhaka city and thereby increase their opportunities to lead a safe, healthy and happy life with dignity.

Activities and Expected Results:

  1. Community empowerment to increase women's empowerment, safety and dignity through challenging social norms and informal power structures which condone and perpetuate violence against women, and prevent women from accessing employment and services. Recognising this, the project will use community empowerment strategies to work towards an outcome where women living in slums are raising their voices and are being heard regarding the protection and recognition of their rights.
  2. Advocacy at both the local and national level to increase women's empowerment, safety and dignity through removing some of the institutional objects to their realisation, specifically the lack of protection of women's rights by relevant stakeholders. As such, the project will use advocacy to work towards an outcome where there is increased and effective implementation of existing laws and policies and initiatives taken for necessary reform with a focus on protection of women workers’ rights by relevant stakeholders, whether garment factory workers or domestic workers.
  3. Direct service provision to increase women's empowerment, health, safety and dignity through lifting some of the constraints on women's access to the health and legal services which are essential to the realisation of women's health and rights. Recognising this, the project works towards an outcome where a working woman living in the slums is accessing the convenient, gender-friendly, affordable and quality services she needs with fewer restrictions, in a protected environment within her community.

BLAST, YMCA Development Center, 1/1 Pioneer Road, Kakrail, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
BLAST would like to thank Sara Hossain, Jahangir Alam, Arafat Hosen Khan, Amanda Sen, Rokeya Chowdhury & Kazi Ataul-al Osman for content development
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