From left, Maheen Sultan, Khushi Kabir, Tulika Srivastava, Hameeda Hossian, and Tahera Yeasmin with the copies of the report, "Rights, Shares, and Claims: Realising Women's Rights in South Asia", during its launch in the capital's The Daily Star Centre yesterday. Photo: Star
Though funding for curbing violence against women (VAW) has increased, there is hardly any direct assistance for the survivors of such violence, finds a study dealing with donor and resource mapping for promoting women's rights in Bangladesh.
Funds are available for implementing anti-VAW laws such as settling cases through the Shalish (arbitration) system but not for providing legal aid, psychological and rehabilitation support to the affected women, says the report, "Rights, Shares, and Claims: Realising Women's Rights in South Asia".
The report, however, mentions that there is a global crunch of donor funds going on. It was prepared by South Asia Women's Fund (SAWF) and launched at The Daily Star Centre in the capital yesterday.
"The survey was done to find out where all the donor fund is going, how much is being channelled to organisations working for women's rights, its utilisation and impacts on women," said Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, through which NGOs may access donor funds in areas of human rights and good governance.
SAWF, a grant-making organisation for individuals or groups working for establishing women's rights, was founded in 2004 with support from US-based Ford Foundation.
Working in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, SAWF sanctioned 42 grants, each amounting to $15,000-$20,000, in South Asia between 2004 and 2007, out of which eight went to Bangladesh, said Tulika Srivastava, executive director of SAWF.
But SAWF's presence in Bangladesh currently is very small, she added.
Referring to the study, Srivastava said small NGOs could not become sustainable, as donors mostly provided funds to the big ones.
Rights activist Hameeda Hossain highlighted the politics involved in funding, from maintaining good relations with ruling parties to being dictated about the usage of funds by the donor.
She also asked grant-making organisations such as SAWF to redirect their focus on the discrimination against indigenous women of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, who she said were constantly being victims of sexual harassment because of state policy and militarisation.
Speakers also talked about the need of fund for building shelter homes, addressing problems of female garment workers, and migrant workers.