Learning About Women’s Right to Safe Motherhood in Bangladesh – Nazdeek and HOPE Foundation
With generous support from Every Mother Counts, Nazdeek traveled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to conduct a workshop on the right to safe motherhood with the HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh.
The goal of the workshop was to build HOPE Foundation staff members’ knowledge and capacity on the right to safe motherhood in ways that can strengthen their ongoing and future work. The training covered legal and policy considerations as they relate to making pregnancy and childbirth safer for mothers. Topics included relevant Bangladesh laws and policies on maternal health, nutrition, and sanitation, as well as the duty of care of medical professionals and staff to vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Facilitators included Jayshree Satpute (Nazdeek Co-founder), Simran Sachdev (Nazdeek Justice Program Officer), Shreya Sen (Nazdeek Justice Program Officer), and Arpeeta Shams Mizan (Lecturer of Law, University of Dhaka).
There were 13 trainees, who hold a variety of roles at the HOPE Foundation, including people in roles of Midwife Assistant, Midwife Supervisor, Midwife Instructor, Midwife, Doctor, Nurse, Field Staff, and Coordinator.
Three days of trainings included various break out group discussions around the work that is done by HOPE Foundation staff; information-sharing on the legal framework in Bangladesh and the various rights protected by the Constitution and other laws; discussions around health care staff members’ duty to patients in providing equal care to all regardless of identity or background; and activities to discuss the way forward.
At the end of the training, one of the participants, a nurse and Maternity In-Charge at HOPE Foundation Hospital, Runa Das, stated: “As women, we didn’t grow up learning that we have rights, and that we should be exercising our rights. But yesterday, we learned that there is something called fundamental needs and something called fundamental rights – and the fact that the Constitution gives rights to everyone, be it a man or a woman. So from yesterday’s training I learned that even if someone does not want to give us our rights, we can demand them, based on the Constitution … Although people are told in Bangladesh that women are weaker or women don’t have rights, now that I know we have rights, I’m going to use that knowledge.”
Hura Jannat, an Assistant Midwife with HOPE Foundation, shared that: “There are many widows and impoverished or destitute women in our society, who are not getting any kind of assistance. But now that we know about the law and that there are various social safety policies for women, we can actually educate these women and make them aware of the services that the government is providing … If a single application comes to someone, it’s not given due importance, but the knowledge that we have gained from the training can lead to a participatory thing – a lot of women may come together. If instead of one woman, eight women come together and make the same application to an official, then it will become difficult for that official to ignore.”
At the conclusion of the three day workshop, Nazdeek staff and HOPE management distributed certificates to the training participants and thanked them for their dedication and participation.