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New ways of working with partners. Women's forum in Bangladesh.

Published Article
Links : a newsletter on gender for Oxfam GB staff and partners
Publication Date
July 1998
PMID: 12321573


In May 1997, Oxfam initiated an effort to help partner organizations in Bangladesh integrate gender issues into their management structures and programs. Oxfam's strategy involved inviting all 20 of its partners to send two women in management or staff positions to create a forum on gender. Oxfam kept the agenda open and included recreational activities. Within the first 24 hours, the group had produced an action plan and asked Oxfam to facilitate continuation of the forum. At first the women wanted Oxfam representatives to meet with their directors to discuss problems; after two meetings, the women only wanted Oxfam to witness the discussions and deflect objections about donor intent. Priority issues were maternity leave, equity with men in receiving resources for communication and transportation, and sexual harassment that occurred when directors extended the household roles of the women into the workplace. Lessons learned from this strategy are that 1) there is no quick fix, but this intervention is relatively inexpensive; 2) long-term support is needed; 3) involving middle managers is a concrete way to place gender issues on the agendas of partner organizations; and 4) a gender policy is important, but an action plan is even more important.

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