SHOMOTA success: Water for Women partners receive World Vision awards

A woman in a wheelchair washing her hands with soap and water using a handwashing station, Bangladesh

Three members of the Water for Women SHOMOTA project team in Bangladesh received awards from World Vision during October 2021, recognising their exemplary efforts in promoting community water, sanitation and hygiene. (photos: Protiva Bikash Sarker / World Vision Bangladesh)

Three members of the Water for Women SHOMOTA project team in Bangladesh recently received awards from World Vision for their exemplary service and contributions to the community through their work to improve equitable and inclusive access for all to community water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the districts where the project is being implemented.

Meet Gender Champion, Rabyea Basri Rayna

Rabyea Basri Rayna facilitating a women's session in BangladeshRabyea Basri Rayna, who works as a project officer for the Water for Women SHOMOTA project with World Vision in Bangladesh, has been named World Vision’s 2021 Gender Champion for her considerable contributions towards gender equality and social inclusion that are transforming systems and creating lasting change.

Rabyea first approached issues of inequality and inclusion by mobilising the community to install low-cost, inclusive handwashing devices and toilets in their homes. As a result, four wards and 28 communities were declared and certified by the Department of Public Health Engineering as open defecation free (ODF) and having 100 percent handwashing device coverage between December 2020 and June 2021.

Under Rabyea’s leadership, 26 schools in the Sadar sub-district of Satkhira implemented menstrual hygiene management systems, and in 18 communities, all homes were equipped with menstrual hygiene disposal systems between June 2019 and June 2021. Access to safe and dignified menstrual health and hygiene management enables women and girls to attend work and school during menstruation, and to participate in other activities within the community.

Rabyea’s advocacy has also led to 16 women being included in different government organisations, such as Union Parishads, which operate at the local government level and comprise nine wards each, and the respective ward water and sanitation committees, which monitor and report on WASH progress and issues to be addressed in their communities. Through this important work, women’s empowerment and leadership is fostered, and equality and inclusion are promoted at the community level.

Furthermore, in August 2021, Rabyea successfully lobbied the Upazila Nirbahi Officer, the sub-district chief executive who overseas WASH financing, to instruct all 13 Union Parishads within the SHOMOTA project intervention area to allocate funding for WASH activities focused on promoting gender equality and social inclusion. These activities reached an estimated 18,475 people, including people with disabilities, half of who are women and girls.

Rabyea also facilitated educational sessions with five MenCare groups and 72 women’s groups in early 2020, focused on breaking down gender stereotypes and negative social norms, which World Vision Bangladesh reports has brought about positive changes in households and communities where these were facilitated, in Fingri and Balli, in Sadar sub-district, Satkhira.

Global awareness days provide another platform for this transformative work, which Rabyea has used to further disrupt negative social norms and promote respect for all, including community events celebrating International Women’s Day, Menstrual Hygiene Day, UN Women’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence and International Day of the Girl Child.

A once taboo and highly stigmatised subject, World Vision Bangladesh also reports that people are talking about menstrual health and hygiene now more freely, and that gender stereotypes, social norms and backlash are gradually breaking down.

Meet Hasina Ferdows Lipi, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Specialist

Hasina Ferdows Lipi holding her award trophy from World VisionHasina Ferdows, who is better known by colleagues and the communities in which she works as “Lipi,” received the World Vision Bangladesh Pride Award, in recognition of her “personal commitment to excellence in delivering quality service to the most vulnerable children.” 

Lipi leads gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) for the SHOMOTA project. In this capacity, she has organised and facilitated the training, workshops, meeting and professional learning events to strengthen the team’s knowledge, skills and abilities in applying GESI practices through their work.

Some recent examples of Lipi’s personal leadership include her development of guidelines for the team to support their work with MenCare groups; preparation and sharing of SHOMOTA’s story of transformation and best practices, contributing to the wider body of knowledge across the WASH development sector; co-facilitation of the GESI self-assessment tool (SAT) workshop for fellow Water for Women Fund partners, the Centre for Advocacy and Research India,  and co-organisation of a GESI SAT workshop for SHOMOTA project team members and the wider World Vision Bangladesh team.

In implementation of the SHOMOTA project, Lipi continues to facilitate the inclusion of children, women, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and other marginalised groups.

Meet Protiva Bikash Sarker, District Coordinator

Protiva Bikash Sarker holding the award trophy from World VisionProtiva received a World Vision appreciation award for excellence in grant management in the 2021 financial year.

As District Coordinator, Protiva has also played a pivotal role in the SHOMOTA project team’s partnership with the Disabled Rehabilitation and Research Association (DRRA) in Satkhira – one of the largest non-government organisation in the field of disability in Bangladesh, as well as their work with women rights holder organisations and Union Parishads, which operate at the local government level, to achieve ODF communities and strengthen local WASH systems.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Protiva has also provided leadership and important guidance to the district team on raising awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap, wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing to help prevent transmission of the virus.

Water for Women partners with World Vision on SHOMOTA – strengthening gender equality and social inclusion in WASH in Bangladesh, with the aim of reaching approximately 36,610 people with improved gender and disability inclusive WASH in schools and communities. The project is working in three districts covering a total of six sub-districts and 12 unions, including:

  1. Fulchari and Gaibandha Sadar sub-districts in the district of Gaibandha, covering four unions
  2. Islampur and Jamalpur Sadar sub-districts in the district of Jamalpur, covering four unions, and
  3. Assasuni and Sathkhira Sadar sub-districts in the district of Sathkhira.

Water for Women is the Australian government's flagship WASH program and is being delivered as part of Australia's aid program over five years, from 2018 to 2022. Through Water for Women, Australia is investing AUD118.9m to deliver 33 water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects and research initiatives, which aim to directly benefit 2.9 million people in 15 countries across South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific. 

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