BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world, and Meta, formerly known as the Facebook company, have been collaborating to empower women through economic and digital awareness in Bangladesh.
The two organisations organised a discussion and project learning session on the occasion of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 at the BRAC Centre. The event titled “Empowering women and youth in digital spaces” was in line with this year’s IWD theme of “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. At the programme, organisers shared the experiences and learning of the pilot project implemented under the collaboration of the two organisations to promote online safety.
Under this project, over half a million BRAC programme participants have learned about online safety, privacy tools, and how to tackle misinformation. Around 75 per cent of these participants were women. Apart from that, nearly 10 million women and youths were reached through a social media campaign on the safe and effective use of social media.
Keya Khan, additional secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), attended the programme as the chief guest. Rita Houkayem, first secretary, High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh; and Priyanka Bhalla, safety policy manager, South Asia, Meta, were present at the event, among others. Ruzan Sarwar, deputy head, Public Policy, Bangladesh, Meta, participated in the event online.
Nobonita Chowdhury, director, Gender Justice and Diversity Programme, BRAC, gave the opening remarks. “We need to ensure equity in digital access, as the current gender discrimination in accessing and using advanced technology is quite high,” she said.
In the panel discussion Priyanka Bhalla, safety policy manager, South Asia, Meta, said Meta is investing heavily to ensure the safety of digital platforms, and trust in partnerships. Subjects like non-consensual intimate image sharing, two-factor authentication, and strong passwords are prioritised.
Rita Houkayem, first secretary, High Commission of Canada in Bangladesh, stressed that digital rights are human rights. “They are part of our everyday life. We have the right to access the internet and phone.”
In her concluding remarks chief guest Keya Khan, additional secretary, MoWCA, mentioned the partnership between the private and public sectors is very important to bring change to society.
BRAC and Meta began collaboration on this project in May last year.