#PushForward with Swisscontact: A Reflection on How Women's Economic Empowerment Can Help Reduce Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) 

Swisscontact Bangladesh organised an event to raise awareness of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) from both a national and international perspective and of Swisscontact's role in its reduction.

On 6th December 2022, Swisscontact hosted an event #PushForward with Swisscontact, which was organised as part of this year's 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).  The event took place at the Swisscontact Head Office in Dhaka.

The event was hosted by Pritam Azra Hassan, the Country Communication Focal, and Tahrima Trishna Ahmed, the Country Gender Focal, and began the proceedings by addressing the session's purpose and presenting statistics to demonstrate the severity of the growing number of Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases.

The event aimed to instil a mindset among Swisscontact employees that will be carried forward throughout the project's implementation and to improve the gender elements of all projects. The Swisscontact Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) team members Proma Paromita, Sultana Jahan and Naziba Naila Wafa presented a bone chilling recitation of Finding Freedom, A Poem on Violence against Women by Wadia Samadi.

A panel discussion was held to reflect on the current condition of violence against women, GBV and the many forms it takes in the context of Bangladesh. The panellists also discussed how development organisations like Swisscontact that implement technical projects can contribute even indirectly to reduction of GBV.

The panel consisted of notable persons who are working towards gender equality, both nationally and internationally: Bithika Hasan, Gender Expert, Human Rights Programme, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Shrabana Datta, Programme Lead, Ending Violence Against Women, UN Women Bangladesh; and Alessandra Pellegrini, Advisor Gender and Social Inclusion, Products & Solutions, Swisscontact Head Office.

The discussion began with Bithika Hasan shedding light on the current situation of GBV in the context of Bangladesh, emphasizing the importance of enhancing gender sensitivity among men and boys and how education on such critical topics should begin during the adolescent years.

Meanwhile, Shrabana Datta articulated the concept and significance of the 16 Days of Activism, emphasising the critical role that development practitioners can play in reducing GBV. She also discussed the importance of economic resources and how a lack of them can make women not only more vulnerable to violence but also less able to speak out against the violence inflicted on them.

In her remarks, the third panellist, Alessandra Pellegrini, expressed Swisscontact's values and beliefs, as well as the organisation's recognition of the need to work toward the abolition of GBV in society. She stated that there are multiple entry points in various projects that have the potential to work towards gender equality and that the organisation's goal should be to look for and actively work on such opportunities. The discussion was followed by question-and-answer session.

The event concluded on a strong note with Mujibul Hasan, Country Director of Swisscontact Bangladesh, emphasising the importance of GBV and the role that everyone can play in helping to reduce it. He also emphasized Swisscontact's zero tolerance policy for PSEAH and other GBV issues.