Empowering women in Bangladesh: Making loans possible
WHAT: The University of Manitoba’s Emdad Haque, former director and current professor in the Natural Resource Institute, led a multi-year Bangladesh project in partnership with a local non-governmental organization—the Center for Natural Resource Studies—and the North South and BRAC Universities. The team behind the project—called Building Environmental Governance Capacity in Bangladesh (BEGCB)—worked with government, public officials and community members to establish environmentally sustainable economic-development programs.
HOW IT WORKED: The group focused on empowering low-income women in the village communities of Hakaluki Haor and Magura-Narail through the green micro-credit system. The initiative made it possible for women with no collateral assets to get small loans from the non-governmental organization to achieve brighter futures.
ITS REACH: “The BEGCB project builds on experiential knowledge among the students at the Natural Resources Institute who worked with more than 3,000 community members and more than 200 poor families in Bangladesh, who attempted to turn around their lives,” says Haque. “Even when they confronted social discrimination and marginalization, with the help of institutional partnerships, the poor could formulate dreams of better lives and be involved with activities from new initiatives like mat weaving and tree planting. The message of the BEGCB project experience is to stand up against deprivation, exploitation and to build futures through collective efforts for, and by, the poor and to encourage innovation at the grass-root level.”
THE IMPACT: “Human lives are finite and therefore what difference we can make in our limited lifetime to the poor, disadvantaged, and deprived masses should matter to us, morally, ethically and otherwise—this is what I felt when I came to know about the successes of many poor women in Bangladesh through our project,” says Haque. “All the hard work and sacrifices to work in local communities with the poor were worth it.”
FUNDERS: The Department of Foreign Affairs, Development and Trade, Gatineau, Que.; the University of Manitoba; North South University, Bangladesh; BRAC University, Bangladesh; and the Center for Natural Resource Studies, Bangladesh