Mother’s Parliament: The Champions on ground in Bangladesh

In the series of articles by our Youth Newsroom reporters, Sohanur Rahman reports on the Mother’s Parliament in Bangladesh. They were winner of the Water Changemaker Award 2020 in the category of ‘People’s Choice’.

Mother’s Parliament (MP) is a body of grassroots women groups formed by democratic process working to tackle water governance related challenges on the ground in Bangladesh since 2017. Their work in Morrelganj has been essential especially at the community level, considering the increased demand, need for resources, and climate injustice on ground. They are engaged in community risk analysis, risk reduction action planning and resource mobilization.

This is why they have just been awarded the Water Change Maker Award 2020 in the category of ‘People’s Choice’ at CAS2021 by Global Water Partnership (GWP), an international water network.Morrelganj, a sub-district in the coastal Bagerhat district, is a disaster-prone area in the south-western region in Bangladesh. Natural disasters affect people's lives every year almost regularly, and the impact of climate change is quite visible. Increased salinity is particularly the major threat to safe water sources for daily use and consumption. It is tremendously deteriorating women's health and causing stomach ailments (diarrhea, thin stools), skin diseases, white urine and complex uterine problems, most of which lead to physical disability.  This trend is only worsening  due to the impact of climate change.

Grassroot work at the community level

MP works with the view to ensure social security for all excluded groups of people in the community, especially the poor, the elderly, widows, women, children, people with disabilities, and minority groups in remote areas who have hardly any voice and space in the society.

The group of women identifies problems related to water, sanitation and health at the sub-district and union level with support from other community groups. They then push and influence the government and public service providers  to take action and mobilize resources. The MP also makes sure to  hold authorities and service providers accountable.

Apart from this, the MP influences local budget through participating in various meetings related to water, sanitation and hygiene. They directly work with Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) standing committees of the Union Council and monitor budget utilization. They reach the local government at union, sub-district and district level and different line departments of national government to submit petitions to ensure proper service delivery to WASH service recipients. Over time, they have been recognized as a local voice by the local government in Morelganj, Paikgacha and Koyra. MP has been playing an important role in ensuring locally led adaptation and budgeting in the context of climate change. Currently, there are three MP groups with 27 women representatives  actively working in sub-districts (Koyra, Morelgonj and Paikgacha) in Khulna and Bagerhat.

MP is a great example of  grassroot women participation in water management and building community resilience. We need more local initiatives that encourage women participation in resilient water management. Bangladesh should scale up MP and use it as good practice all over the country.

Recognition

Out of the 350 change maker proposals from around the globe, Mothers Parliament's programme just received  the Water Changemaker People Choices  Awards during the ‘Climate Adaptation Summit 2021’.

The MP is facilitated by DORP, a Bangladeshi NGO in partnership with Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation. The Water Change Maker Awards were launched to celebrate and make visible the teams and organizations who shape water decisions that build climate resilience.

Sohanur Rahman