We are looking for Commonwealth citizens to share their views ahead of the 2024 Heads of Government Meeting. Sign up to take part

Amplifying the voices of women fisherfolk in climate change and health policies

  • Amount funded: £30,000
  • Year: 2022
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Locations: Bangladesh
  • Grant stream: Open grants call

Many women fisherfolk in the Bay of Bengal are isolated and vulnerable to climate change and its associated health risks. They face challenges accessing entitlements, healthcare and social protection, despite government efforts to provide support for fishing communities.

Project partners
Badabon Sangho
Bangladesh Mohila Somity, Bagerhat (BMS)
View more detail
How we are helping

This project will seek to influence climate policy and improve conditions for women fisherfolk by ensuring their inclusion in decision-making.

About the project

The lives and livelihoods of communities in southern Bangladesh depend on fishing. Registration systems and identification cards provide workers with access to healthcare services, fresh drinking water, state waterbodies allocation and tenure securities. Women comprise around 42% of the fishing workforce but only represent 12% of the 1.4 million registered fisherfolk. Some women fisherfolk are unable to access their rights and entitlements because of a lack of recognition in national policies and guidelines.

Women fisherfolk who are unable to access these services are extremely vulnerable to the impact of climate change including increased salinity and severe saline-induced skin and reproductive diseases leading to further physical and social issues.

Project partners Badabon Sangho will work closely with two community-based women fisherfolk associations to identify and address gender-based discriminatory gaps in: (i) National Waterbodies Management Policy 2009, (ii) Fisherfolk Registration and ID Card Guideline 2019, and (iii) and National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009.

This project aims improve women fisherfolk rights by engaging with national level policy actors and facilitating the tools and methods for policy review. 

This will be achieved by:

  • Drawing on the outcomes of a previous project (also organised by Badabon Sangho) which mobilised, organised and educated women fisherfolk on their rights and entitlements.
  • Producing a policy brief that documents key gaps and specific policy recommendations (200 copies will be designed and printed).
  • Facilitating advocacy at the national level by:
    • Conducting three consultation meetings with women fisherfolk with the assistance of local advocacy groups in Mongla, Kuakata and Cox’s Bazar.
    • Separately, engaging with men fisherfolk with the assistance of local advocacy groups.
    • Conducting three consultation workshops with local officials of three public departments (Land, Fisheries and Healthcare).
    • Conducting one national-level workshop with senior officials of ministries.
    • Lobbying with health and fisheries ministries.
    • Conducting one national-level seminar with media, senior officials and members of parliament.

Advocacy efforts will strive for enhanced recognition and guidance for women fisherfolk in national policies. An improved sense of gender equality is expected as a result of this project: both women and men fisherfolk will have improved awareness on equal entitlements; local officials at the department of fisheries will be responsive and gender-sensitive regarding registration and identification card delivery to women fisherfolk, and department of land officials will be gender-sensitive regarding state water-bodies allocation to women fisherfolk.

Project Partners
Badabon Sangho

Badabon Sangho is a women's rights and women-led organisation working to establish a society based on freedom of expression, in which women and girls have full and effective participation in the development process. The organisation works with women—particularly widowed, single mother, separated, ethnic, religious minority, older, persons with disabilities, youth and extremely poor—in the coastal region of Bangladesh with a focus on women's and indigenous people's rights within climate change affected areas i.e. shrimp farming, salinity, cyclone, storm, water logging and erosion.

Bangladesh Mohila Somity, Bagerhat (BMS)

Bangladesh Mohila Samity is a voluntary organisation that works to create “A Better Tomorrow” for women and children from all social strata. BMS has made significant contributions towards defeating poor health, illiteracy and poverty in Bangladesh throughout its history. It has wings across Bangladesh, including Bagerhat Mohila Somity. Besides working for women's empowerment, BMS organise collective actions against women’s rights violation.

Commonwealth Foundation logo

We support people's participation in democracy and development by providing grants, platforms, and expertise.

Governance Areas
Social inclusion