Building on the momentum gathered in 2022, the year 2023 has been a year of agenda building for the Citizen’s Platform in view of the country’s socio-economic and political transition. Citizen’s Platform would like to take this opportunity to thank all the partners for their relentless support and collaboration throughout the year.
We share below some activities that kept us busy in 2023.
Citizen’s Agenda 2023: Towards a Different Bangladesh
Preparation of this initiative builds on a wide range of activities undertaken over the past two years (2022-2023) by the Citizen’s Platform, through which 11 issues were identified that require policy attention. This is a collection of these 11 Policy Briefs with a set of concrete recommendations in each of the identified areas, underpinned by the specific context and contestations concerning the articulated theme. In each of these cases, the concerns and interests of the vulnerable groups have informed the suggestions for reforms and policy uptakes.
Around 130 issue experts were engaged under 11 teams who sat together two times in July and August 2023, to prepare these 11 Briefs. Besides, there was also a 22-member Advisory Committee, which included eminent professionals of the country.
To follow up on the recommendations, the Citizen’s Platform launched these Policy Briefs through media briefings under three clusters of issues, viz Economic (18 October 2023), Social (11 October 2023) and Governance (30 December 2023). Besides, the 11 Policy Briefs will be brought out as a collected volume in Bangla and English.
Advocacy Document on বাংলাদেশের উন্নয়ন আখ্যান ও সমান্তরাল বাস্তবতা: পিছিয়ে পড়া জনগোষ্ঠীর ভাবনা
This publication captures the reflections on the mainstream development narrative as a substantive testimony of the perspectives of the left-behind people. Citizen’s Platform launched this publication at this high-profile launching dialogue (25 September 2023). The dialogue was Chaired by Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman, CPD. Eminent personalities of the country joined the dialogue as honourable discussants and shared their valuable comments on the publication.
Youth Conference 2023: Are today’s youth ready to take charge of Bangladesh?
As a part of its ongoing activism, Citizen’s Platform organised the Youth Conference 2023, a half-day event aimed at understanding the thoughts, political inclinations, perspectives and interests of young people of the country in anticipation of Bangladesh’s democratic transition. The Conference took place on Saturday, 14 October 2023 at the Krishibid Institution Bangladesh (KIB), Farmgate, Dhaka.
Under the banner of the Conference theme “Let the country be what the youth aspires the country to be” more than 600 young individuals from diverse backgrounds and regions across the country participated in the Conference. Highlights of the Conference included the presentation of the youth survey findings and a parliamentary debate on whether the youth are prepared to shoulder the responsibility of Bangladesh’s future and live voting on 14 identified youth priorities. These were followed by a session with political leaders and eminent citizens who shared their views as regards, aspirations of the youth, expectations from them and how to address the youth’s lack of enthusiasm for mainstream politics.
Survey on “Youth perspective on Policymaking of Bangladesh”
To understand the views of young people, Citizen’s Platform conducted an extensive online survey titled “Youth perspective on Policymaking of Bangladesh”. The survey was conducted during September and early October 2023 and was participated by 5075 young people nationwide.
The survey was developed in co-creation method taking the suggestions and inputs in consideration received from a consultation meeting with 28 youth led and youth served organisations, held on 6 August 2023. In continuation of this process, 22 organisations joined this initiative as survey partners. Besides the online survey, Citizen’s Platform also conducted 20 focus group discussions (FGDs) across the country with 13 groups to gather youth perspectives at the disaggregated level.
Profile of the survey participants and some of the key findings from the survey are the following:
- 89.4% of youth (18-35) are registered on the voter list, but 53.8% had never cast their vote in a national election and 46% never cast a vote in any local election. 43.1% of the participants in the survey said that they were hesitant, uncomfortable and shy in expressing their opinions. On the other hand, 36.4% said that they have been harassed in the past while expressing their opinion.
- 69.4% of youth respondents considered corruption and nepotism to be the main obstacles to the development of Bangladesh. On the other hand, 46.5% considered a lack of transparency and accountability, and 32.6% felt prioritizing the interests of vested groups was the main obstacle.
- If there’s an opportunity, 18.7% of respondents said they will live abroad permanently. However, a majority, 53.2%, saw their future in living in Bangladesh.
National Budget 2023-24 Analysis through LNOB Lens
The Citizen’s Platform focused on advocating for the concerns of marginalised communities at the national level. In this background, Citizen’s Platform collected recommendations from 28 partner organisations, considering the viewpoints of disadvantaged groups. The recommendations were then presented during a dialogue jointly organised by CPD and Citizen’s Platform, in cooperation with the European Union titled “আইএমএফ’এর সময়কালে অসুবিধাগ্রস্থ মানুষের কথা জাতীয় বাজেটে কীভাবে প্রতিফলিত হতে পারে?” (15 May 2023). CPD and Citizen’s Platform, in cooperation with the European Union also jointly organised a media briefing titled “জাতীয় বাজেট ২০২৩-২০২৪: অসুবিধাগ্রস্ত মানুষেরা যা পেল” (7 June 2023) after the declaration of National Budget.
National Conference on ‘Investing in Public Primary Education: Local Concerns and Expected Actions’
Citizen’s Platform collaborated with CPD to convene a National Conference on ‘Investing in Public Primary Education: Local Concerns and Expected Actions’ (25 June 2023). The conference was based on a social audit and subnational dialogues conducted in the three upazilas on the quality of primary education held in the Sundarganj upazila in Gaibandha district, Dimla upazila in Nilphamari district and Sadar upazila in Thakurgaon district. More than 350 attendees, including 150 from the local level, actively participated in the conference.
Scenario in Primary Schools: Measures that need to be taken from Local Perspective
CPD and Citizen’s Platform, with support from the European Union and in partnership with Eco- Social Development Organization (ESDO) organised three sub-national level dialogues in Gaibandha (10 June), Thakurgaon (16 June) and Nilphamari (17 June) where the findings from social audits on primary education were presented.
Citizen’s Perspective on the Contemporary Land Management Initiatives
Focusing on the digitalisation of land management, Citizen’s Platform with support from the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) organised a dialogue on ‘Contemporary Initiatives in Land Management and Citizen’s Rights’ (2 March 2023). Citizen’s Platform facilitated a discussion involving representatives from government, legal community, civil society, media, and disadvantaged communities to explore and assess the perspectives and access of marginalised groups in the context of recent digitalisation of land management. Mr Saifuzzaman Chowdhury, MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Land, Government of Bangladesh graced the dialogue as the Chief Guest. Mr Md Mustafizur Rahman, Secretary, Ministry of Land, Government of Bangladesh, delivered the trigger presentation as the lead speaker of the session.
Consultation Meetings on Civic Space and Policy Activism
Throughout 2023, Citizen’s Platform had a number of consultation meetings with international development partners (22 January and 22 August), INGOs (3 May), private sector leaders (17 May) and media gatekeepers (11 May). The Citizen’s Platform presented the learnings from its 2022’s extensive consultations with disadvantaged communities on the national development narrative and shared it on the programme. Citizen’s Platform also had consultation meetings with its Core Group (11 January, 9 August and 9 November), Partner Organisations (12 January and 12 November), and Supporters (29 January). Citizen’s Platform’s received critical and strategic suggestions and feedback from these four meetings to consolidate and enhance its planned activities.
Developing a Learning Framework for Citizen’s Platform
The thematic journey of the Citizen’s Platform has evolved through distinctive phases from 2016-2023. With its emergence as a leading CSO network (including private sector) in Bangladesh over the past eight years, there is a need and demand among the stakeholders regarding understanding the learnings from the journey of the Citizen’s Platform. Again, a retrospective exploration will also be useful for the Citizen’s Platform in strategizing its future programmes and activities encompassing the learning experiences. In view of this, the Citizen’s Platform has undertaken this exercise to develop a learning framework which will also document its emergence and evolution as well as guide its journey going forward. Citizen’s Platform is also producing three documentaries which will encapsulate the learning of the Citizen’s Platform as well as its journey.
Youth for Development Journalism
On December 17, 2023, Citizen’s Platform organised a workshop titled, “Youth for Development Journalism” at BRAC Centre Inn. Around 37 young journalists from 32 districts had joined the workshop. The workshop consisted of four sessions, Participants got to learn about the parallel reality of the national development narrative discovered by the Citizen’s Platform in 2022. They were also given the opportunity to discuss the challenges of reporting local news and getting noticed nationally with media gatekeepers. Furthermore, the participants got hands-on training from the experts on effective packaging of news.
In 2023, Citizen’s Platform brought out an edited volume titled সংলাপ সংকলন: জাতীয় উন্নয়ন, স্থানীয় বাস্তবতা ও নাগরিক অধিকার compilation of 15 briefing notes which was unveiled during the Ekushey Boi Mela 2023. The Citizen’s Platform also published the advocacy document in September 2023.
Besides, three working papers were published focusing on Disadvantaged Groups Coping with the Pandemic Fallouts; Vaccinations, Food Consumption and Access to Health Services and New Realities in the Education Sector Confronting the Disadvantaged Communities.
During 2023, the Citizen’s Platform published five briefing notes under this series.
Networking and participation
In 2023, Citizen’s Platform welcomed 10 new organisations as partners. The network has now 134 partners organisations.
All the national dialogues and conferences were live streamed on the Citizen’s Platform’s Facebook page and viewed by 12,335 digital audience. Around 1400+ participants, of which around 700+ represented left-behind communities, joined Citizen’s Platform’s dialogues and conferences physically during this period.
Citizen’s Platform is thriving in the digital sphere, with its YouTube channel boasting an impressive 32,150 subscribers, marking a substantial increase of 4,000 from the previous year. On LinkedIn, the Citizen’s Platform has steadily ascended, accumulating 1,538 followers—a growth of 800, highlighting its expanding influence in the professional community. Meanwhile, on Facebook, Citizen’s Platform resonates with 28,597 engaged followers, showcasing its diverse appeal. To expand the outreach activities, Citizen’s Platform is now available on Instagram as well.
Given the changing national context and evolving civic role, Citizen’s Platform remains committed to strengthening voices, promoting vigilance and securing victory in the interest of the disadvantaged citizens and communities of Bangladesh.
We wish all our partners and well-wishers a very successful 2024.