Dhaka, March 25, 2021. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu on March 7 declared the struggle for ‘freedom’ along with the struggle for ‘independence’, socio-economic freedom of the people is, therefore, one of the main spirits of our independence. Local NGOs-CSOs have an important role to play in Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom and socio-economic development, and that role needs to be recognized, said speakers at a discussion organized by BDCSO Process, a platform of about 700 local NGOs-CSOs. The organization was organized on the occasion of the golden jubilee of independence.
At the beginning of this online discussion titled ’50 Years of Independence and Achievements: The Role of Civil Society ‘ moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST Foundation, tributes were paid to the father of the nation, all martyrs, and heroic freedom fighters. National and local NGO-CSO leaders from different parts of the country participated in the event. Rafiqul Alam (Dwip Unnayan Sangstha), Fayezullah Chowdhury (Barind Unnayan Proceshta), Rafiqul Islam Khokon (Rupantar), Arifur Rahman (YPSA), Sheuly Sharma (Jago Nari), Anower Zahid (ICDA) spoke on the occasion as invited speakers.
Rafiqul Islam, a heroic freedom fighter, said that after independence, Bangabandhu came to the coastal areas and urged us to form local organizations. In the newly independent country, we worked on relief and rehabilitation, and later on, we worked alongside the government in education and health care. I am still trying to bring the benefits of development to the grassroots. But recognition of the role of NGO-CSOs is essential to sustain the benefits of these efforts.
Fayeullah Chowdhury said the country has become a model of development from a bottomless basket. But there are still many obstacles to development in society. To overcome that obstacle, along with financial development, the development of human values, good governance, and democratic practices are required. Local organizations, local NGOs are playing an important role in these cases. For development efforts to be effective, all organizations must be united.
Rafiqul Islam Khokon said NGOs stand by the people as a complement to the government in all crises of the country. Local NGOs have also stepped in to prevent the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately, in these cases, we do not get the recognition of the sacrifices of local organizations. In the overall interest of the country, the contribution of NGOs to make development sustainable must be recognized. The NGO complements the government’s development efforts, NGOs are not the opposition in any way.
Arifur Rahman said NGOs-CSOs has been actively involved in various development plans like the five-year plan of the country. But the proper recognition of those contributions is still elusive today, we need to work together without waiting for recognition. The socio-economic development of the masses is a great recognition of our united efforts. Anwar Zahid said that denying the role of NGOs-CSOs in the development of the country is an insult to the real history of development, as NGOs have an important role to play in socio-economic development, the establishment of human rights and the development of democracy in the country. Sheuly Sharma said that even after so many years of independence, the women’s society of the country is still not truly independent, free, or secure. Women can’t enjoy the benefits of true freedom without a free and secure environment.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that with the spirit of social, NGO sector, as well as civil society organizations have been making significant contributions along with the government to promote economic and political emancipation of the citizens, the country’s NGOs-CSOs have to face various challenges in the reality of various international situations. Development programs, therefore, need localization. Localization will not come and hand over to us. Local NGOs-CSOs have to prepare for this.
Bellal Hossain, Sheikh Asad of Udayan Bangladesh, Raushan Ara Begum of Sara, Khandaker Farooq Ahmed of Trinamool Sangstha, and many more also spoke at the occasion.