Canadian Member of Parliament, Yasmin Ratansi talks to Dhaka Tribune
’s Ashif Islam Shaon and Shohel Mamun about the paramount need for NGOs, civil society and the government working together
In your opinion, what is the way forward to achieving United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for Bangladesh?
Yasmin: I think there are three things to look at. First is a meaningful consultation. That does not mean that someone comes to you and shows you what they are doing. It means we have a discussion about finding a better way to forward.
We went to see a preschool catering to underprivileged children and this school was next to a garment factory in Dhaka and the factory was not very safe. We asked them what they would like. They said they wanted to move from there to an independent facility. Now, that was a meaningful consultation. The point is, you find a solution after consultation. I was telling everybody at the CPA not to impose solutions on you because that is not how SDG can be achieved.
One of the SDG is to look at women empowerment. There are various start-ups in Bangladeshi society. The jobs at a factory may be more secure than that of domestic worker or day laborer. How do you help them to reach their full potential?
If they do not have sufficient or any education, housing, proper sanitation and that is something the government needs to improve.
The Indian government also had a slum problem and they simply destroyed the slum, while making room for newer construction projects. The people living there were never asked where they will go or how they will live.
SDGs depend on how you consult, how you find the solution and how you implement it in a way that has a positive impact on different social classes, ethnicities, religious groups and so on and forth.
Some NGOs have made allegations that the government is yet to define their role in the SDGs. Do you feel there is a need to involve NGOs and define their goals?
Yasmin: Without NGO involvement the government cannot reach the poorest of the poor. NGOs have been working in the poorest neighborhoods. The existing NGOs need to reach out to the government or the local MPs and what they are doing and how they can help. There is one simple solution. A combined effort is necessary. The government cannot say poverty can be tackled by eliminating slums.
Will be it easy to eliminate poverty without NGOs and the support of the civil society?
Yasmin: Eliminating poverty requires a collective effort by local NGOs, government and the civil society. I have always given example of my hand. Five fingers working together has a better chance to bring about change that use only one or two fingers. I think there is strength in numbers.