USAID-supported PAR initiative enhanced the Advocacy Initiative of a CSOs in Natore District – Nari and Shishu Kallyan Society (NSKS)
Civil society organizations (CSOs) of Bangladesh have often undertaken different local level advocacy initiatives with government administration, service providers, local government institutions for effective implementation of different laws. However, these advocacy efforts often fail to bring attention to the issues by relevant stakeholders due to lack of experience and focus.
Nari and Shishu Kallyan Society (NSKS), one of the women led CSOs from Natore district, participated in several Promoting Advocacy and Rights project (PAR) interventions. In 2019, they participated in the Civic Engagement Forum – a unique opportunity for diverse civil society organizations to identify local level problems, ways to address these problems, as well as the challenges and lessons learned while operating in closing civic spaces. NSKS also participated in a legal workshop to review best practices and rights of civil society organizations, and an advocacy workshop to improve capacity to implement evidence-based advocacy. These workshops were hosted by Counterpart International in partnership with the WAVE Foundation and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). While participating in these workshops, NSKS has become more capable in organize advocacy initiatives applying learned skills and knowledge at a local context.
This learning is demonstrated by a ‘dialogue with local administration and concerned authorities (including law enforcing agencies) to address the child rights issues including child marriage’ organized by NSKS in Natore. Local government representatives, civil society, the media, and others local activists attended in November of 2019. NSKS presented their demands to government stakeholders, citing evidence-based research to compel the government to work to reduce rates of gender-based violence, child rights violations, and child marriage. In the dialogue session, NSKS worked with participants to develop a memorandum on these local issues, and submitted the memo to the relevant stakeholders, urging the government to take action. The District Commissioner acknowledged the issue and signed a MoU with the local-level CSOs led by NSKS and declared the issues outline by the MOU as a priority for the district of Natore.
Based on the MOU, NSKS is working with local Natore authorities to address local advocacy demand. As a result, the local authorities have developed a plan of action to address this demand raised by local-level CSOs.