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Feb 5, 2019

Turning on lights in Nepal

Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel
Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel

Nearly four years on from the 2015 earthquake, Nepalis across the country are still feeling its impacts—particularly girls.

In the wake of the disaster, many families were strained by financial pressure. Furthermore, instability led to a heightened risk of sexual violence. As a result, Nepal witnessed an uptake in child marriage following the earthquake, as some families married off their daughters in an effort to protect them and reduce their economic burden.

However, in many cases, early marriage has had the opposite effect on girls, leaving them further socially and economically marginalized.

Together, we are working to counteract this trend by creating opportunities for girls at risk of and affected by child marriage.

Through our girls’ empowerment clubs, Nepalese girls are learning about gender justice, sexual and reproductive health, life skills, and financial literacy.

And, through practical, livelihoods-based education, these girls are also gaining employable skills that provide pathways to sustainable livelihoods and reduce the economic pressure that often drives families to child marriage in the first place.

In a new partnership with Signify Foundation, girls in our empowerment clubs now have the opportunity to participate in training in lighting and electrical services, and eventually, graduate into sustainable livelihoods as lighting technicians.

Driven by the demand for quality lighting products and services in the communities surrounding Kathmandu and Kavre, the program provides income-generating opportunities for girls while also creating access to quality lighting services in rural, earthquake-affected communities.

This holistic approach supports both girls and their communities. Equipped with an income-generating skill, girls can invest in their own futures while providing a valuable service to their communities.

Currently, 20 girls are attending our first lighting technician training. We plan to train at least 100 girls as certified lighting and electrical technicians.

We are so grateful for your ongoing support. By empowering girls with sustainable livelihoods that increase their economic and social independence, we can help break the cycle of child marriage.

Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel
Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel


Jan 31, 2019

Women and girls at center of Rohingya response

Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel
Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel

“We women, we give birth to life. Let us live ours in peace.”

The Rohingya refugee population is among the most vulnerable in the world. And, in the densely populated settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh where over 900,000 Rohingya reside, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.

Many victims already cope with emotional trauma from the violence they faced prior to arriving at the settlements. Many also fear coming forward, in part due to the social stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence.

In an effort to counteract that stigma, BRAC is taking a community-based approach to combating sexual and gender-based violence in Rohingya settlements.

Recently, we partnered with the United Nations and other local humanitarian organizations to advocate against gender-based violence. In our “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign, Rohingya women, men, boys, and girls from across Cox’s Bazar came together to raise awareness of and call for an end to violence against women and girls. BRAC also engaged nearly 20,000 men and boys in sexual and gender-based violence trainings in order to raise awareness and stop the cycle.

In addition, we now operate eight women-friendly spaces and eight community centers in Cox’s Bazar. These centers provide a wide range of services, including psychosocial counseling; legal support; community education on topics like health, hygiene, and women’s rights; and training in skills such as literacy, tailoring, and handicrafts. Over 1,100 women have accessed psychosocial support in the spaces.

The women-friendly spaces, known as shanti khana or “places of peace,” also help establish a sense of community. They are a place to learn and heal.

“I come here to talk to the other women, and spend time with the young girls,” said Layla,* a 21-year-old Rohingya woman. Nearly 500 women like Layla attend the shanti khana daily.

Your donations ensure that our 2,600+ staff in Cox’s Bazar can continue to provide these critical services. Thank you for your support of women and girls.

Photo: Inter-Sector Coordination Group
Photo: Inter-Sector Coordination Group


Dec 18, 2018

Starting early to close the gender gap

Children at a Play Lab in Tanzania.
Children at a Play Lab in Tanzania.

Despite tremendous global progress over the past decades, girls are still more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom.

In fact, in sub-Saharan Africa, the average girl will not complete secondary school.

Girls face a breadth of unique barriers that can hamper their education, including attitudes and norms about the role and status of women. And, by the time children begin primary school, most have already formed rigid attitudes about gender by observing their caretakers.

But our 500 Play Labs across Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Uganda, where children ages 3-5 spend the day learning through play as part of an innovative, low-cost approach to early childhood development, are breaking down barriers like these by changing attitudes early on.

Like all of BRAC’s education programs, Play Labs emphasize gender equality as a foundational principle of social transformation. Educated girls are more likely to have decent work and living conditions, delay marriage and families, and have healthier and more educated children igniting a cycle that brings about positive changes for generations.

Play Labs instructors, known as Play Leaders, are young women drawn from our girls’ empowerment clubs in the same communities, which equip adolescent girls with life skills, livelihood training, and financial education.

These women, who have received training in a variety of topics related to gender and girls’ empowerment, involve caretakers and community members to highlight the value of girls’ education and promote play-based, early childhood learning for all children ensuring that caretakers and communities are invested in girls from a young age.

Play Leaders also serve as positive role models for girls, and demonstrate to the community the benefits of investing in girls.

Quality education for girls starts with early childhood. Thank you for helping to ensure that all girls can access quality educational opportunities.

Children sing in a Play Lab.
Children sing in a Play Lab.


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