Strengthening Parliament’s Capacity in Integrating Population Issues into Development (SPCPD)
The Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat has been working with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since 1998 focusing to enhance the capacity of Parliamentarians and Parliament Secretariat officials to integrate critical population and gender concerns, including emerging issues, into national laws, policies and plans. After the successful completion of the Project under the 7th Country Programme titled “Involvement of Parliamentarians in Reproductive Health, Rights, Gender Issues and Development (IPRGD)” from 2006-2011, Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat, in cooperation with UNFPA, has designed the Project titled ‘Strengthening Parliament’s Capacity in Integrating Population Issues into Development (SPCPD)’.
Objective of the SPCPD Project: To enhance the capacity of Parliamentarians and Parliament Secretariat officials to integrate population and gender concerns, including emerging issues, into national and sectoral plans, policies, and laws.
SPCPD Project: The SPCPD Project has been working closely with ten Standing Committees namely: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW); Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA); Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA); Ministry of Finance (MoF); Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJPA); Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS); Ministry of Planning (MoP); Ministry of Information (MoI); Ministry of Education (MoE); and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MoLGRD). These Standing Committees, in turn, are helping and guidind relevant and other ministries for the enforcement of laws, policies and regulations related to population and development.
BAPPD: Although Bangladesh Association of Parliamentariants on Population and Development (BAPPD) formed under the SPCPD project but BAPPD is a National body to promote population and development issues. BAPPD has been formed under the Chairmanship of the Hon’ble Speaker, Bangladesh National Parliament, to create mass awareness on population and development, enact necessary laws and policies for preventing child marriage, allocate adequate budget for improving maternal health and ensure safe delivery, youth development, maintain liaison with national, regional and international committees and forum on population and development (P&D), facilitate in conducting policy dialogues, consultation workshops, round table meetings and interactive meetings at national and local levels on P&D issues related to International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (POA).
Policy Advocacy Issues and 3 Sub-committees: As a part of policy advocacy, with the technical assistance of UNFPA and Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD), an Advocacy Plan has been developed which includes- i) Improving maternal health through ensuring safe delivery; ii) Eliminating child marriage; and iii) Ensuring young people’s development as three priority policy advocacy issues. Besides, to strengthen advocacy efforts for successfully implementation of identified 3 policy advocacy issues, BAPPD has formed three sub-committees, comprising BAPPD members, on- i) Improve maternal health and ensure safe delivery, Hon'ble Chief Whip ASM Firoz, MP is the Convener; ii) Eliminate child marriage, Chairperson, Standing committee of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) Ms. Rebeka Momin, MP is the Convener; and iii) Youth development, Ms. Sanjidha Khanam, MP is the Convener. These three Sub-committees, as per TOR, are responsible to take all necessary actions to implement project activities as per Annual Work Plan (AWP).
Progress so far:
A. BAPPD Meeting: Four meetings of the Bangladesh Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (BAPPD) were organized, which were presided over by the Hon'ble Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson, BAPPD. Meetings decided to organize consultation meetings, consultation workshops, policy dialogues, round table conferences, etc. at national, divisional, district and upazila levels.
B. Improve maternal health and ensure safe delivery Sub-committee meeting: The first meeting of the Improving Maternal Health through Ensuring Safe Delivery Sub-committee meeting held on 17 June 2015 that chaired by Hon’ble Mr. ASM Feroz MP, Chief Whip, Bangladesh Parliament and the Chair of the Sub-committee. The meeting took important decisions, as follows:
i) organize consultation meetings with the Standing Committees of Finance and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to increase budget;
ii) send a letter with Convener’s signature to all Hon’ble Parliamentarians, District Surgeons, Deputy Commissioners (DC), Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO) and Officer-in-Charge (OC) requesting them to ensure regular discussions on maternal health and safe delivery in their respective monthly coordination meetings and motivate people to ensure delivery at health centers; and
iii) to organize awareness building campaigns, meetings, consultation workshops, etc. at both national and local levels by involving all stakeholders including Parliamentarians.
C. Eliminate Child Marriage Sub-committee meeting: three meetings of Eliminate Child Marriage Sub-committee held that were chaired by Begum Rebeka Momin MP, Chairmen of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) and the Chair of the Sub-committee. Meetings took important decisions, as follows:
i) decided to make necessary amendment of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 along with the Early Marriage Restraint Act 1929;
ii) organize consultation meetings with the Standing Committee of- Education for ensuring mandatory 12 years education for female students; Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for ensuring reproductive health services; and Ministry of Finance for increasing budget for women empowerment;
iii) organize seminars for MPs of the high CM prevalent districts and divisions during next Parliament Session and orient/sensitize them on the CM issues of their constituencies;
iv) The Chair will issue a letter to all MPs requesting them to organize local level meetings and or touch upon CM issues in any of their public meeting in their constituencies;
v) Endorsed the idea of a Child Marriage Free model area/upazila concept and agreed to organize awareness building campaigns, meetings, consultation workshops, etc. at local level by involving all stakeholders including religious leaders;
vi) decided to take initiative for sending out a letter with Hon’ble Speaker's signature to Chairpersons of Parliamentary Standing Committees, Deputy Commissioners (DC) and Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO) requesting them to ensure regular discussions on prevention of child marriage in their respective monthly coordination meetings; and
vii) agreed to work with Parliamentarians to activate the Child Marriage Prevention Committee at Union Parishad and will ensure accountability of Union Parishad Chairman/Members on this issue.
D. Youth Development Sub-committee meeting: The meeting of Youth Development Sub-committee held on 18 August that were chaired by Shanjida Khanam MP, Chairmen. Meeting took important decisions like-
i) review current Youth Policy and make necessary evidence based amendments;
ii) organize consultation meetings with the Standing Committee of- Education for quality and technical/vocational educations; Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for ensuring reproductive health services for youth; and Ministry of Finance for increasing budget for capitalize demographic dividend; and
iii) organize seminars for MPs on youth issues.
Implementation of Key Activities:
a. Day-long orientation workshops for Parliamentarians: Orientation workshops were organized for Parliamentarians on population and development issues.
b. BAPPD organized Policy dialogues/round table conferences on, as follows:
c. Consultation meetings/workshops on eliminate child marriage issues: As a part of develop child marriage free model upazilas, BAPPD conducted three local level consultation meetings and one workshop. These Upazillas are declared as child marriage free model upazilas.
d. Study visit: To give BAPPD members an exposure on how other country’s Parliamentarians advocating population and development issues to influence policy decisions and bring desired changes in the policies, programmes, strategies and allocation of resources, four week-long study visits were arranged in Thailand, South Korea, Philippines Parliament.
e. Training workshop for Parliament Secretariat Officials (BPS): BAPPD has taken into consideration the functional capacity of the Parliament Secretariat officials to make them effective catalysts so that they can provide required secretarial supports to the Parliamentarians in relation to population and development issues and hence, organized five batches of day-long workshops for BPS officials.
f. Situation analysis: In order to equip Parliamentarians with adequate and appropriate data & information on three identified priority policy issues for timely necessary actions, a situation analysis to map out the current scenario of maternal health has been conducted.
g. A supplementary on Child marriage issue was published in four national dailies i.e. the Daily Star, Ittefaq, Jugantor and Bangladesh Protidin.
h. IEC Materials: Disital banners, cross banners, leaflets, pendrives, desk calenders, etc. have been produced/published.
Some remarkable successes of the advocacy efforts are as follows:
Constraining and facilitating factors:
a. The General Election took place on 5 January 2014 and the 10th Parliament has started its functioning in late January 2014. SPCPD project is working with 10 Standing Committees and forming of these committees took considerable time.
b. To focus more on the targeted advocacy intervention, it became necessary to harmonize all SPCPD project activities in line with the advocacy plan and hence, the Project authority had decided to revise the SPCPD project Technical Project Proforma (TPP), which also took considerable time.
c. Due to political unrest in 2013, 2014 and 2015 planned activities could not be organized as per work plan.
i. Gaining high level commitment through formation of BAPPD and ensure participation of Hon’ble Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Whips, Secretary and Additional Secretaries including other high level officials of Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat and others in the project activities that facilitated the implementation of project activities in a timely manner and helps to maintain the quality implementation.
Working with UNFPA beyond 2016:
A. Institutionalization of Bangladesh Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (BAPPD): BAPPD members will serve as the main advocates within the Bangladesh Parliament for the integration of population dynamics, reproductive health and rights, youth development and gender concerns into national plans, policies and legislations. BAPPD through its Sub-committees and concerned Standing Committees will guide the respective ministries for the enforcement of laws and regulations and to advocate for increased budgetary allocations.
B. Strengthening the capacity of BAPPD: Strengthen the capacity of BAPPD members to advocate, network and influence policy reviews, policy formulation, annual budget discussions and parliamentary debates through organizing orientation, workshops, seminars on specific issues, producing materials (e.g. policy briefs, fact sheets, etc.), and ensuring participation in regional/international meetings/conferences aiming to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding about critical population and development issues related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
C. Strengthening the capacity of concerned Standing Committees: In order to ensure enforcement of laws, policies, regulations and for increased budgetary allocations, we need to strengthen the capacity of relevant Standing Committees to bring desired changes.
D. Strengthening the capacity of Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat: in order to ensure timely supports to BAPPD members, following activities may be considered:
a.National level: UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, UN Women, UNAIDS, UNESCO, IOM, Population Council, Care Bangladesh, Plan International, CDP, PSTC, etc.