Introduction

Bangladesh Firestarter Initiative (BFI) responds to the challenges of youths lacking the capability or leadership skills. The project builds the capacity of innovative youth led organisations, especially those led by youth from underprivileged backgrounds, specifically women, girls, and minority communities outside Dhaka. It aims to establish a connection with the wider youth sector and supporting small youth groups through youth-adult partnerships, capacity development, and mentorship schemes.

Background

In a country with a population of over 150 million, youth consist of approximately 1/3 of the populations. They can be the most valuable human assets in the world if they have the opportunity to be fully integrated into their communities. To ensure this integration is inclusive, concerted effort on working with the most vulnerable populations – young women, girls and minorities – is essential. 

The Bangladesh Firestarter Initiative is a reactive and open Innovation Fund that was developed to facilitate emerging and innovative youth-led organisations in their advocacy projects. These organisations are led by disadvantaged youth, especially young women, girls and minorities outside Dhaka. It aims at building the capacity of young people and their organisations through the provision of targeted capacity development courses, peer learning, coaching & mentoring, as well as facilitating the establishment of networks with wider partners in the youth sector, to facilitate sustainable and impactful social change.

Programmatic interventions of AAB engage young people, living in exclusion, particularly with young women and marginalized groups that are excluded based on their identity and locality. And all these engagements are meant to create spaces for young people to convene, facilitate and co-create with the local struggles and connect with progressive social movements, at local, national, regional and international levels.

The International Youth Day, on 12th August, was an opportunity of ambitious prospect of creating lasting impact and awareness among the youth as well as the greater community. This year, the International Youth Day is being observed with the theme of ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’ which covers the areas such as Public Spaces, Digital Spaces, Civic Spaces and Physical Spaces, all together. AAB emphasizes that young people must claim their spaces, letting their voices being heard and identifying their diverse needs to be addressed by respective quarters. This is imperative in harnessing the potential of young people in changing this world. According to the theme of International Youth Day, young people should have their stake in the decision-making process exercised. They should engage in governance structure and processes. At the same time, they should demand full opportunity for participation in sports and other leisure activities. All physical structures must be accessible to all groups of young people including persons with disabilities.

In the context of Bangladesh, claiming safe spaces for young people is more relevant than anything as around 53 million of young people are facing lots of challenges and constraints triggered by structural causes. Young people have poor representation in the various decision-making structures whether these are formal or non-formal. Be it be urban or rural settings, there are very few public spaces where young people can spend their leisure time. Safety issues are becoming more prominent in public spaces particularly in highways and public transports. Young women are suffering from sexual harassment, intimidation and abuses etc. to a dire extent. Along with that, young people are restricted in their free expressions of opinion in the various online and offline platforms in many ways. These situations should not continue if we wish to achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goal 11, which emphasizes the need for the provision of space towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization.


To celebrate International Youth Day, AAB  took up a series of programmes from local to national level. At national level, AAB teamed up with the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Bangladesh to participate in a youth gathering and to showcase the works among delegates from government, national and international NGOs and youth platforms, on 6 August 2018.

Along with that, this year AAB is celebrating the International Youth Day on 12 August 2018 in 6 Districts of Bangladesh - Niphamari, Bagerhat, Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Kustia and Chottogram - where Activista Members are taking the lead in organizing events such as bicycle rally, debate, rally, discussion session, street drama, quiz competitions and fairs to create greater awareness on safe spaces among the youth and the greater community.

Category Details
Name Of The Initiative Bangladesh Firestarter Initiative
People Reached 2,400 disadvantaged youth
Working together since 2015
Focus Areas Of Intervention: Disadvantaged youth, especially women and girls, and minority communities
Division Kushtia, Joypurhat, Rajshahi, Shirajgonj, Satkhira, Pabna, Bogura, Magura

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“I never participated in such training before. So, it was new experience to me. We, especially the children usually take decisions emotionally. So, sometimes we take wrong decisions. Along with that, many times we get into fights with each other. We don’t think about the consequences. We have come to know how we can communicate properly, can settle disagreement etc. We did group discussions, group works in the training, so could understand everything easily. We also had lot of fun games. I believe this training will help us to change our thoughts & actions. Thanks to ActionAid for arranging such training for us", one of the participants of LSBE (Life Skill Based Education) training, Shefali (16-year-old) expressed her view.
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Initiative to Sensitize People on Menstrual Hygiene

On 28 May 2022, LRP-51, Chanpara celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day to sensitize the community about menstruation and menstrual hygiene.
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Art and Craft Training at Happy Home

An Art and Craft training was organized by ActionAid Bangladesh to provide limitless opportunities for the creative minds of Happy Home girls.
Read More

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Drawing training for children for a better future

As a means of child protection and bringing out the slum children from the adverse condition, ActionAid Bangladesh conducted five days of drawing training in LRP 49 community in Mirpur. A total of 104 children, of which boys 38 and girls 66 between the age of 6-14, received this training from a trainer from the faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University.
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Children are delighted to participate on online Debate and Speech Competition 2022

The world is one and it is yours, mine, everyones. Our beloved world will be ours.
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LSBE training at Ghoraghat (LRP 45)

“I never participated in such training before. So, it was new experience to me. We, especially the children usually take decisions emotionally. So, sometimes we take wrong decisions. Along with that, many times we get into fights with each other. We don’t think about the consequences. We have come to know how we can communicate properly, can settle disagreement etc. We did group discussions, group works in the training, so could understand everything easily. We also had lot of fun games. I believe this training will help us to change our thoughts & actions. Thanks to ActionAid for arranging such training for us", one of the participants of LSBE (Life Skill Based Education) training, Shefali (16-year-old) expressed her view.
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Initiative to Sensitize People on Menstrual Hygiene

On 28 May 2022, LRP-51, Chanpara celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day to sensitize the community about menstruation and menstrual hygiene.
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National Mourning Day 2020:

The nation observed the National Mourning Day on 15th of August 2020, Saturday with paying rich tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his 45th martyrdom anniversary. Like every year, 15 LRPs arranged different programs for the children to observe National Mourning Day 2020 by following all safety measures.
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Event for child care

Event for child care
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Women play a central role in agriculture. Rural women throughout Bangladesh make critical contributions to household production and consequently to household and national food security. The specific nature of their contribution vary, for instance women’s participation in economic activities differ considerably according to the type of activity and the place of residence. Traditionally women have played an important role in a wide range of income-generating activities. These rural production activities include post-harvesting, cow fattening and milking, goat farming, backyard poultry rearing, pisciculture, horticulture, food processing, cane and bamboo works, and handicrafts. Yet the reality has been that ‘markets’ are not women sensitive nor friendly. Women struggled to be in market spaces as a producer trying to sell their product, or as a buyer to make choices in person. ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB) took up initiatives in different parts of the country with the intent of changing the market system and practices so as make the market system women-friendly. This called for long-term projects and investment. One such project entitled: Making Market Work for Women (MMWW), in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh, aimed to support women Agri -entrepreneurs to evolve into a competitive and successful entrepreneur by participating in the market. MMWW project facilitated the creation of a women-friendly market environment; developing linkages with market actors and relevant stakeholders towards promoting and increasing access for women entrepreneurs in existing rural markets. The project also established linkages with online market platform for women entrepreneurs, so as to promote their engagement in e-commerce. In the present reality of the COVID-19 pandemic online marketing played a great role to sustain the enterprise of women entrepreneurs. They were able to trade their produce and flourish their business in 2020. AAB took an initiative to publish a Photobook to showcase the success stories of women entrepreneurs through the photobook ‘Market Transformation for Women’. It is a testimony of women’s contribution in transformation of society, and the significant contribution to their community, as well as national economy. I believe that Agri-entrepreneurship particularly by rural women is an important growing sector in the economy of Bangladesh. Therefore, it calls for recognition and investment to stimulate growth and further development.
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Policy Brief on Youth Budget Framework

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Policy Brief: Impact of COVID 19 on Entrepreneurs and Workers

To utilize Bangladesh’s current demographic window, Bangladesh must harness its youth potentials to achieve the long-term development. The increased ratio of young women and men who have access to economic opportunities and sustainable income sources will help us to achieve our targeted goals. Access to flexible finances for young women and men especially those with limited indemnity to venture into self-employment or social entrepreneurship plays a crucial role if we want to reap this opportunity. The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) hold the most promise for creating jobs in both rural and urban areas. But the Covid-19 pandemic has hurt this sector as much it has affected our daily lives, specially the women entrepreneurs and workers. This policy brief is an attempt to explore the situation, challenge, and way forward on youth and women responsive strategy for MSMEs.
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Creating an enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders to protect the affected communities from the negative impact of large scale infrastructural development projects and violation of human rights. Advocating for reform the land acquisition, compensation and resettlement related policies, and provisioning for safeguard measures in foreign investment projects.
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