Empowering girls in Bangladesh

Her Choice alliance member ICDI is launching a crowdfunding campaign to teach Dalit girls (a religious-ethnic minority) in Bangladesh to produce their own face masks and sanitary pads and empower them to go back to school when the lockdowns are lifted.

COVID-19 is having a major impact on the lives of Dalit girls. The NGO Dalit, local partner in Bangladesh of Her Choice alliance member ICDI, is committed to these girls. In Bangladesh, schools are closed, families are becoming even poorer and girls are isolated from protection services. They are missing out on their education, don’t have access to hygiene products and, hidden behind closed doors, are potential victims of violence and child marriage.

Worldwide lockdowns during COVID-19 have already resulted in 743 million girls missing out on education. These girls face a higher risk of violence and it is even worse for the girls of the Dalit (untouchables) communities in Bangladesh. They live in poor conditions, don’t have access to clean water and have no money for face masks or sanitary pads. Because their families struggle to provide for them, they are also at greater risk of child marriage.

The NGO Dalit trains girls in 10 Dalit villages to make their own reusable menstrual products and other items to help protect themselves in the crisis (e.g. face masks). The new skills that the girls learn give them an income, recognition and visibility in their community. Dalit keeps in touch with them, offers them support to prevent abuse and child marriage. Together with the girls, Dalit is  ensuring that they all return to school after COVID-19.

With the crowdfunding support 500 teenage girls and their communities will receive reusable menstrual products and face masks. This will increase their safety and raise awareness about the effects of COVID-19. Because the girls will have increased their skills they will have a greater chance to have an income both during and after the pandemic. The financial support will also keep them at school when lockdowns are lifted. They will have a better chance to avoid child marriage and fulfill their potential.

Read more about the campaign here.