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Cablegate: Bangladesh S/Gwi Project Proposals

VZCZCXRO6448
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #0141/01 0490448
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180448Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0029
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000141

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/GWI VVIKMANISKELLER, SGHORI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWMN PREL EAID ECON PHUM SOCI BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH S/GWI PROJECT PROPOSALS

REF: A) 09 STATE 132094, B) STATE 12531

SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) Mission Dhaka received more than 20 submissions from
Bangladesh organizations for the S/GWI small grants program. The
proposals addressed the full range of women's issues, including
projects to advance political rights, human rights, food security
and entrepreneurship for women. A committee that included
representatives from Mission Dhaka's Political/Economic Section,
Public Affairs Section and USAID reviewed the proposals and selected
five proposals that met S/GWI priorities and reflected Mission
objectives. We hope S/GWI will award grants to one or more of the
Bangladesh proposals, and we look forward to working with S/GWI on
this exciting initiative.

FIVE NOMINEES FOR WOMEN'S ADVANCEMENT PROJECTS
--------------------------------------------- -

2. An overview and justification for each of the five proposals
nominated by Mission Dhaka's committee follows below in order of
priority. Mission Dhaka has worked successfully with each of the
five NGOs that submitted these proposals. We will send the full
project proposals to S/GWI by email.

BUILDING POLITICAL LEADERSHIP AMONG WOMEN
-----------------------------------------

3. (U) The Bangladesh Alliance for Women's Leadership (BDAWL)
proposes to improve women's political empowerment by developing a
network of women leaders in Bangladesh and South Asia and by
training women involved in politics and governance on international
best practices for leadership. A political leadership curriculum
would form the basis of an on-going women's leadership "academy" to
help advocacy groups, political parties and Parliamentarians with
women's development initiatives. BDAWL hopes to partner with a
parallel women's organization in India to re-vitalize the South Asia
Network on Women in Politics, established in conjunction with the
1995 Beijing Conference on the Status of Women. BDAWL would also
develop a mentoring program, Who's Who directory of women leaders
and website to foster an on-going network of women political leaders
in Bangladesh and beyond.

4. (SBU) BDAWL's project would support two of the top USG priorities
in Bangladesh, strengthening democracy and governance and promoting
Bangladesh as a responsible regional partner. Training and
networking as proposed by BDAWL would empower women political
leaders to play a greater role in policy- and decision-making.
Bangladesh is beginning to make progress in improving relations with
its neighbors, particularly India, and BDAWL's intention to
re-activate a network of South Asian Women Leaders would promote
further regional cooperation.

PROMOTING FOOD SECURITY FOR ETHNIC MINORITY WOMEN
--------------------------------------------- ----

5. (U) Caritas Bangladesh proposes to improve food security among
indigenous women in northwestern Bangladesh by training them to
cultivate climate change sensitive crops and household gardens. In
addition to teaching these traditionally ultra-poor women about crop
diversification, drought resistant crops and sustainable
agriculture, Caritas Bangladesh would also support the women farmers
to develop networks for learning about business management and
market access.

6. (SBU) Caritas Bangladesh's proposal ties into numerous USG
priorities, including food security and climate change. In
addition, the focus on indigenous women would mean reaching a
marginalized population in one of Bangladesh's poorest regions.
Finally, extremist ideologies have in the past gained traction in
northwest Bangladesh, including the area covered by this proposal,
and we are continually looking for ways to promote economic
development in this region as a means of combating extremism.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR ACID VIOLENCE VICTIMS
-------------------------------------------

7. (U) Odhikar, Bangladesh's leading human rights organization,
proposes to help victims of acid and dowry violence by improving
their access to legal aid. Odhikar plans to build capacity at the
local level to respond to cases involving violence against women
(VAW), raise awareness about the threat of VAW and organize
collective action against the perpetrators of attacks. Central to
Odhikar's proposal is empowering women and the authorities to act
against domestic violence by utilizing Bangladesh's strong legal
framework, which criminalizes such violence.

8. (SBU) As the nation's leading human rights organization,
Odhikar is an effective critic of human rights violations in

DHAKA 00000141 002 OF 002


Bangladesh and is an internationally-recognized force for protecting
the interests of all victims of human rights violations, including
women. For these reasons some in the Government of Bangladesh (GOB)
have tried to restrict or marginalize Odhikar. Supporting Odhikar's
proposal would achieve two goals, providing real support on the
ground to victims of domestic violence and demonstrating to the GOB
our support for Odhikar's work more broadly.

BUILDING NETWORKS AMONG WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS
-------------------------------------------

9. (U) The Bangladesh Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(BWCCI) seeks to boost entrepreneurship among poor women in ten
different areas of Bangladesh by helping budding entrepreneurs
organize into artisan groups and then training the groups on
business management and product development practices. BWCCI would
also support entrepreneurs from the groups in gaining access to
markets and participating in trade fairs. Once organized, the
groups would continue to receive support and counseling from BWCCI.
10. (SBU) BWCCI seeks to boost entrepreneurship among women, a key
focus of President Obama's initiative to foster entrepreneurship
among Muslim majority nations like Bangladesh. By focusing on poor
entrepreneurs, this project would help women make the leap from
micro-credit to larger enterprises. BWCCI already works with USAID
on an anti-corruption project; funding this proposal could amplify
both our entrepreneurship and our anti-corruption messages.

EMPOWERING WOMEN VIA EXPORT MARKETS
-----------------------------------

11. (U) CARE Bangladesh seeks to develop the skills of ultra poor
women in northwestern Bangladesh by training them to make rugs for
export. CARE Bangladesh would support the training of women who
would not normally have access to employment in an export-oriented
business. After training the beneficiaries in rug-making, workplace
expectations, and workload/household management, CARE Bangladesh
would place the women in jobs with a company that produces rugs for
export to Germany.

12. (SBU) CARE Bangladesh's project would provide skills and
employment to a group of women who would not on their own be able to
obtain a job with an export manufacturer. CARE Bangladesh already
runs such a program here; funds from S/GWI would allow CARE
Bangladesh to reach more women in a poor region of northwestern
Bangladesh, which, as mentioned above, is vulnerable to extremism.


MORIARTY

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