Bangladesh Democratic Participation and Reform Program
In Bangladesh in 2011, Democracy International implemented the Democratic Participation and Reform Program (DPR), a USAID- and DFID-funded political party development program designed to (1) enhance grassroots participation, with a focus on women and youth, (2) improve the parties’ access to and use of information, and (3) improve the environment for responsive politics.
To increase the political engagement of women and youth in political parties and in national political activity, DI established regional centers for women and youth in each of the seven regions of Bangladesh. From these offices DI conducted awareness campaigns, including town hall meetings and women’s dialogues, to inform women and youth on ways to participate in political processes. Working with party leaders, DI developed a campaign, Narir Joye Shobar Joy (When Women Win, We All Win) to help parties develop action plans to bolster the representation of women in all aspects of Bangladeshi politics and public life. In 2014 strategic planning meetings as part of the Narir Joye Shobar Joy campaign produced commitments from the major parties to appoint more than 140 thousand women to district and city committees. In addition, the campaign provided training to aspiring female leaders on media relations, negotiation, and campaign strategy.
DI also developed and managed a Young Leaders Fellowship Program for young political party activists that provided training and the opportunity to engage with national and regional party leaders on important political and policy issues. The six-month fellowship program focused on several different areas of political party operations, including connecting with young people, outreach to women, media relations, advocacy, and using technology to improve party operations.
To improve and facilitate coordination on reform initiatives between national party organizations and historically marginalized political groups, particularly women and youth, DI engaged parties in more sophisticated and strategic constituency outreach. Specific activities included support to the administration of national and regional party conferences and councils as well as the creation of public-facing party web portals.
To strengthen the capacity of political parties to craft data-driven policy, DI led a series of activities to demonstrate the value of public opinion research, help develop effective polling and research approaches, and aid in the incorporation of research findings into policy formation and communication strategies. Specific activities included an applied research program, which makes use of focus group discussions in addition to regional and national surveys, a targeted research training program, and a media monitoring portal. DI supported its research activities with a Computer Assisted Telephone Survey System, the first of its kind in Bangladesh.