The advent of Bhumija Foundation began on early 1994 to solely dedicate an endeavor in addressing the deep-seated issues and concerns faced by the marginalized indigenous peoples, outcastes and untouchables’ communities or otherwise known as religio-ethnic minorities (REMs) in the Southwest region. With aspiration to ensure REMs’ fundamental rights and legitimate voices; participation and access to local structures, justice system, public services and resources; gender equity and diversity; equal opportunity and fair treatment; and pursue their rightful stake in the mainstream development process by honing and capacitating them to become active catalyst and empowered agents of their own development.
The Constitution of Bangladesh clearly stipulates and recognizes the equal rights of all its citizens as mentioned in Article 27 and 28 respectively. The Article 27 says, “All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law” whereas Article 28 says, “no citizens shall on the ground only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regards to access to any place of public entertainment or resort of admission to any education institution”. However, the plights of the so-called REMs have none at all progressing in view of their quality of life, access and claims or exercises of their fundamental rights due to continuing caste discrimination, social exclusion, and absence or lack of specific legal mechanisms that will protect and uphold their rights.
REM communities are currently facing with tremendous gaps as well as bypassed by any development initiatives from both public and private sectors. They are extremely enduring the accolade of abject poverty. There is high incidence rate of morbidity and mortality among their community due to starvation, malnutrition, and insufficient numbers of rural doctors that make them rely heavily with the quack doctors in the villages, the price of medicines is not accessible as their income is very low, and lack of access to safe drinking water, environmental sanitation and absence of health facilities and other socio-economic infrastructures to ameliorate their condition.
The literacy rate is far below than that of the mainstream people. It is only 19.28% on average for both sexes. Other development needs and concerns faced by them includes landlessness and resource constraints, unemployment and underemployment, lack of access or very limited access to public resources such as khasland, open water bodies, forest, education and training institutions, institutional credit sources, religious fundamentalism and communalism etc.
Moreover, women and children are worst victims of caste discrimination and suffering twofold than their male counterpart and particularly marginalized and vulnerable. Most women are subordinated to men by some discriminatory laws and policies, patriarchal norms, values and cultures. Most women are heavily involved in agriculture, manual labor and some livelihood activities. But still remain undervalued and have not given the equal treatment and opportunity to voice their issues and rights. They have become the victims of social, political and economic exploitation, and they have insignificant access to public resources and justice. Inadequate awareness about their fundamental rights, lack of bargaining capacity coupled with deeply rooted gender inequalities and caste discrimination held up their access to public resources and services including access to power structures and decision making processes at household and societal level. In a systematic process, vulnerable women groups are gradually becoming further marginalized, deprived and powerless, which pushes them towards acute poverty.
Adding to the plight of the REMs, there is no enough space to be represented on the rural power structures and they lack institutions to voice their demands at the local, regional and national levels. Their indigenous skills, cultural identity as well as their language are now on the verge of extinction; hence, they are forced to live sub-human life because of the existing socio-economic, cultural, and political power dynamics between them and the dominant culture and social groups.
Nevertheless, human rights are imperatives for establishing justice, peace and humane development. But none recognition, lack of access and exercises of human rights fed social unrest and poverty. Human rights are rights possessed by all persons, by virtue of their common humanity; help building a free society in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all people. Greater realization of the full range of human rights is key element of and prerequisite for the elimination of poverty, discrimination, peacelessness and social injustices between and among cultures and people.
On the aforementioned realities, Bhumija Foundation is challenged to courageously steps forward to equality and empowerment of the most deprived, oppressed and marginalized groups, in particular, the REMs in this region by continuously facilitating the mainstreaming process of their rights at all levels. The organization is taking a proactive role by promoting human rights, collaborating and coordinating with like minded institutions including the government, and undertaking the synergy of right and need based approaches to improve their very own condition, facilitate empowering development, and contribute towards the restoration of equality and empowerment enlivened by human rights and social justice.
Name of the Organization & Address:
Name: Bhumija Foundation
“Establish fundamental human rights of the indigenous, untouchable and outcaste communities through creating an environment for equal opportunities.”
“To reduce social discrimination and oppression of the indigenous, untouchable and outcaste communities through awareness, capacity building, leadership development, education, legal assistance and economic support for raising their voices and realize a dignified life.”
- Involving the outcaste people in the development process.
- Creating self-employment opportunities for the outcaste women and men.
- Creating access in the formal and non-formal educational sector.
- Capacity building through critical awareness rising.
- Creating access to local, national and international resources and government’s services.
- Social mobilization in establishing human rights and social justice.
- Supporting network of decentralized people’s organization.
- Self-financing revenue generating projects, government and other resources being raised for financing local level programs.
Our Crosscutting Strategies
- Gender Equality
- Fundamental Human Rights
- Good Governance
- Policy Advocacy
- Coalition and Networking
Godaipur Nutun Bazar
List of Excutive Body
Chief of NGO
Network / Forum
Micro credit related information Last three years: (If necessary)
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