In Bangladesh, violence is an entrenched method for dealing with political and electoral conflict, and democratic backsliding remains a significant challenge. To address the root causes of violence and foster greater demand by citizens for more peaceful and accountable political processes, IFES equips advocates to mobilize public demand for reform and advance democratic principles. For nearly a decade, IFES has supported local partners in Bangladesh with technical expertise on leadership development and conflict resolution; in-depth research to inform political advocacy and peacebuilding; and capacity-building efforts to promote and expand networks of women, youth, rural and Indigenous peace practitioners.
IFES works with partners to implement the People Against Violence Everywhere (PAVE) program to networks that impact broad sectors of Bangladesh. Launched in 2013, PAVE equips advocates from diverse political, ethnic and religious backgrounds with the expertise and skills needed to build community resilience, promote pluralism and constructively mitigate and resolve conflicts. IFES has worked with Indigenous women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) for nearly a decade to promote women’s leadership in a united peacebuilding movement. A further network of over 3,000 PAVE alumni has engaged in peacebuilding events reaching nearly 85,000 beneficiaries in rural communities across Bangladesh. (Story Map of recent successes.) IFES also engages with nearly 1,700 PAVE-trained university students across 13 campuses in the Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) network. To further bolster leadership opportunities, in 2021, IFES launched She Leads in the CHT, which provides women with skills and knowledge to take on leadership roles. Tailored to the cultural and contextual needs of the participants, IFES’ She Leads program in the CHT encourages participants to lead advocacy initiatives in their communities, working with a network of women alumnae to confront gender-based and anti-minority violence, online violence against women and promote gender- and minority-inclusive policies.