What is We Can

WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is a countrywide campaign in Bangladesh aimed for attitudinal change against domestic violence against women. WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh aspires to unite men and women into an organized mass movement to transform existing power relations in society. The idea of WE CAN Campaign is to break the silence, denial, shame and stigma surrounding the issue of domestic violence against women and bring it into the public domain, consciousness and accountability. Currently the campaign is being carried out in 55 districts at 400 Union Councils. The campaign was initiated in 2004 as part of a South Asia regional campaign with the objective to challenge and change deeply entrenched patriarchal societal attitudes and practices that endorse gender discrimination and violence.

After completing its seven years as a campaign; WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh is now an independent registered platform, which is managed by the National Committee and 48 District Committees. Since 2011, WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh has been registered under Department of Social Welfare, Government of Bangladesh. At present, 700 Education Institutions, 300 Youth Clubs and 500 organizations are involved with WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh. WE CAN Alliance, Bangladesh have mobilized more than 1 million of Change Makers so far.

The launch of the Bangladesh We Can Campaign took place on September 18th, 2004 in the northern district of Dinajpur and ended on September 25th, 2004 in the southern port city of Chittagong.

In between Dinajpur and Chittagong, launch events were held in Gaibandha, Pabna Sirajgonj, Bagerhat and Barisal. These launches were all a little bit different and included colorful rallies, horse carts and rickshaws vans and mass gatherings of different types. Also included in these launches were various discussions and cultural events. The We Can alliance members worked tirelessly to organize presentations, seminars, workshops, marches, and press conferences to complement their launch activities.

Messages were widely disseminated through the mass media, advertisements on the local cable channels and through innovative methods like mural paintings, posters, booklets, leaflets, flip charts and illustrated panels on the sides of rickshaws- which are highly visible on roads.

Thousands of women and men – members of grassroots organizations involved in rural outreach programs, students from schools and colleges, people from labor organizations and ordinary people living within the communities who were keen to challenge and change behavior on violence against women – attended the launches.

In Bangladesh, domestic violence is a historic and socio-cultural reality. It is estimated that there are 3.7 million “missing” women in the Bangladesh – which is about 7% of the population. The country has one of the highest rates of adolescent motherhood; 1 in 3 teenage girls in Bangladesh is a mother.

The aim of launching the Campaign in districts beyond than Dhaka, was so the strength of partners could be used to make a “big splash in smaller places” involving locally and nationally well-known people. These launches had national media coverage through the invitation to national journalists, and as the events were local there was major coverage in local papers which have a wide outreach among the Campaign’s target groups.

  • A study by ICDDRB in 2001 indicated that 60% of women experienced violence and concluded that high levels of domestic violence remains a major health problem in Bangladesh

  • One Stop Crisis Centre (OCC), a Bangladesh-based NGO that supports women victims of violence, reveals that almost 70% of sexual abuse suffered by women occurs within their own homes.

  • WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (2005), less than 1% of physically abused women report the matter.

  • An estimated 200 women are murdered each year in Bangladesh when their families cannot pay their dowry, says Oxfam Australia.


Campaign Strategies

  • The 'We Can' Campaign works with women, men, girls and boys in the community, at home, and at work to educate and inform them about the issues of VAW and gender equality.  In this way we seek to prevent violence before it even starts.

  • 'We Can' works with the media to reach greater audiences and raise awareness of the campaign in all communities in BC.

  • 'We Can' is implemented by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals to mobilize large sectors of the community to take a stand against violence against women.

Goal of WE CAN Campaign

  • To bring a fundamental shift in social attitudes and beliefs that support domestic violence against women

  • To initiate a collective and visible stand by different sections of the community against domestic violence against women

  • To establish a popular movement to grow in order to end all domestic violence against women

  • To create a supportive space created to exercise the women and men’s equal rights and entitlement

Mission of WE CAN

Reduce social acceptance of domestic violence against women and enhance the process of gender equality, peace and commitment at all spheres of human lives.