The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will provide $450,000 to the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) for a three-year pilot project.
The project titled: “Economic opportunities and sexual & reproductive health and rights – a pathway to empowering girls and women in Bangladesh,” aims to empower women and improve their knowledge about reproductive health and rights. The project will be run in areas of Sunamganj, Sylhet and Moulvibazar in the country.
A signing ceremony was held on Tuesday between the officials of UNFPA and BWCCI at the latter's Gulshan conference room.
UNFPA country Representative Arthur Erken, Lutfur Rahman, assistant chief of the ministry of commerce, Sangita Ahmed, president, BWCCI, and Selima Ahmad, BWCCI founder-president, were present at the ceremony.
Selima Ahmad termed women's access to income and economic resources as one of the most powerful vehicles for exposure of girls and women.
She said BWCCI and UNFPA will work together to empower women, to increase their economic opportunities and provide access to information and services related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Selima said the project is a strong initiative to bringing about sustainable development of women entrepreneurs through their empowerment, as it concentrates on engaging women in economic activities and increasing their role in reproductive decision-making in their families.
Erken said Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Sunamganj districts have been selected as the project areas, based on poor reproductive health outcomes in the areas.
He said a critical aspect of promoting gender equality is the empowerment of women, with a focus on identifying and redressing power imbalances, and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives.
BWCCI will implement the project from April 2013 to December 2016.
The project budget is $527,888 of which BWCCI is providing $77,888.
The project aims to improve entrepreneurial and technical knowledge and skills of women, which will allow them to start their own business enterprises in selected areas of Bangladesh.