WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is fundamentally a campaign of mass scale. The campaign has a clear focus on challenging and changing the prevailing social attitudes, behavior and practices that maintain and promote domestic violence against women by mobilizing diverse individuals and communities. It is preventive rather than reactive. WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh recognizes that a relevantly large scale campaign and common awareness are required for the changes in attitudes, behavior and individuals that work across society. The central strategy of WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is to bring the deeply rooted personal, voluntary and self propelled changes at the individual level - ordinary men, women and young people who commit to changing themselves and then taking the change to at least ten other people in their spheres of influence.
Developing Change Makers
WE CAN Bangladesh works with individuals at grassroots levels. The change makers first change themselves, then change their immediate environment or families and lastly change their society to make it a domestic violence free society. The change makers will mobilize the stand against the social acceptability of domestic violence against women. Indeed, Change Maker is a volunteer identity. However, WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh has provided with identity cards to the Change Makers so that they can uphold their identity confidently in the society. The change makers will take stand against domestic violence in several phases:
S/he will believe and practice that violence against women is not acceptable
S/he will discard those beliefs and values which support violence against women in his/her own life.
S/he will abstain from these attitudes.
S/he will discuss about domestic violence with ten more persons.
S/he will be outspoken about violence against women. S/he will motivate at least 10 people to prevent and end violence against women.
Developing and Disseminating Behavioral Change and Communication Materials
WE CAN Bangladesh regularly brings out situational campaign materials to disseminate in order to change people’s knowledge, attitude and practice with regard to domestic violence against women. These simple, illustrated materials can successfully educate individuals and groups and in many cases, help stop domestic violence against women. The campaign materials also help change makers to enrich their conceptual understanding and motivate their stance against domestic violence. The use of language and illustrations as well as selection of characters and information is developed to disseminate three core messages:
Domestic violence affects everyone- women, men and children
Women and men equally entitled to dignity, respect, freedom and safety
Society needs to recognize domestic violence against women as a violation of women’s basic rights.
The materials have been produced using easy, understandable and communicable Bengali language. The campaign materials of several forms have been developed and disseminated including wall painting, rickshaw painting, boat painting, billboard, mug, vanity bag, mobile bag, poster etc. WE CAN, Bangladesh also published several booklets, posters, leaflets and stickers.
Motivational and Awareness Raising Activities and Events
WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh believes that changing beliefs and practice is a long term process and needs repeated engagement through events, discussions, materials and actions, at both individual and community level. WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh emphasizes on sharing of information at interpersonal level rather than only information dissemination. Hence, Regular intensive programs have been carried out with men and women taking into consideration day to day experiences, values, beliefs, and other realities. One of the core objectives of WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh’s activities is to re-engage the change makers. The national level events of WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh are usually held during three months in a year – March, July and November. These national level events include press conferences, rallies, human chain formations, road show, observation of important days such as International Women Day, International Day for the Elimination of VAW, Begum Rokeya Day, etc. Apart from these events, throughout the rest of the year change makers initiate and organize various local level events of smaller scale besides carrying out their works at their own pace and as per convenience. These events door to door campaigns, street theatres, folk shows, experience sharing meetings with journalists, street meetings, banner campaigns, silent protests, van campaigns etc.
WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh started with likeminded people who believe that domestic violence is a violation of human rights. The idea behind making it an alliance-led-campaign organization is to involve a diverse range of individuals, from a much wider spectrum. NGOs, the civil society, lawyers associations, teachers, journalists, writers and prominent individuals who are progressive and pro-women form and join the alliance at both the National and District level. Forming alliances is a continuous process under which individuals and organizations are joining to help establishing a society without domestic violence against women. Different schools, colleges, universities, cultural organizations, professionals’ organizations, labour organizations, youth clubs, women clubs, journalist associations and other civil society groups are the organizations with which WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh seeks to enhance networking activities. At present more than 500 organizations are involved in WE CAN Bangladesh alliances.
WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh believes media can play an important role in changing perspective of the mass with the way. Hence, alongside the strong support from the campaign, WE CAN, Bangladesh seeks to maintain a liaison with the media. Media, both print and electronic, is not only helping WE CAN, Bangladesh with publicity but is becoming a gender-sensitive partner by highlighting issues of domestic violence and sensitizing the mass about it. Towards this end, WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is working with the media working at all levels. WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is working with feature writers, reporters, editors and producers so that all of them place domestic violence high in their agenda. Periodically, WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is also producing television programs based on the issue with regard to domestic violence against women. In 2009, WE CAN Bangladesh produced a television serial titled “Amader Golpo”, which featured 13 drama-based talk show.
Advocacy is one of the core activities of WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh. WE CAN, Bangladesh works with the law enforcing authorities in order to make state laws accessible to the grassroots people. Continuous efforts are also being put to make administrative structure of the government at both national and local level positive towards women rights. Initiatives are being taken to activate different government level committees with regard to prevention of violence against women. These activities are being carried out at the villages, union, upazilla, district and division level.
The advocacy initiatives with the policymakers at national and local levels include regular meetings with Union Parishad chairmen and members, and Pourashava Mayors and councilors, participations in the policymaking committees as non-government representatives, helping to operationalize the committees with regard to ending domestic violence against women, involving high level policymakers and elected representatives in the campaign activities. These efforts are being carried out in a continuous basis.