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Women taking ownership of their lives & surroundings: Kanni Wignaraja

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DHAKA, 22 FEBRUARY, 2020: Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Kanni Wignaraja has visited Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project (LIUPCP) implementation area at Karail slum in Dhaka today. 

During her visit, she spoke to project beneficiaries and community development committee (CDC) members on their fight to end urban poverty.

“The main thing is that a lot of people here particularly the women have such a sense of self-confidence and more than anything else, they have been able to take ownership of their lives and their surroundings,” she said when asked about her experience after visiting LIUPC project sites and meeting with beneficiaries.

“They have improved things for their children, and they have also improved things for each other,” she said adding, “The sense of community and the spirit of being there for each other and helping each other out is so strong.” 

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When asked about her takeaway from the visit at Karail, Kanni Wignaraja said that organisations like UNDP is very important to come in and help to start projects that then continue not because of the project anymore, but because of what the community leaders have learnt and what they do.

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“The community people are now insisting from government the services that they want. They are looking at improving their own education, they are insisting on education that is better for their children and new jobs so that they can move out of slums,” she said adding, “No one wants to live in slums for whole life.”

“So, I think this is the biggest thing that we can be there to initiate to set things in motion. And then it is the women who take it and run it which is amazing,” Kanni Wignaraja said.

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Asked what her message would be for other women living in other city corporation and paurashava and struggling to improve their livelihoods, she said, the women could take inspiration from humble beginning. Even if they start small, there is a world of opportunity to reach out and they can grab those opportunities.

She hopes that the lessons and experiences of women in Karail will be taken to other parts of Bangladesh and beyond to tell other women about their possibilities. “They no longer have to listen and be told what to do that they will take control and lead their own lives and improve the lives for their children and families and themselves,” she said.

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UNDP Resident Representative Sudipto Mukerjee, Abdul Mannan Abdul Mannan, Joint Secretary and National Project Director, LIUPC Project, Local Government Division, Ashekur Rahman, Head of Poverty and Urbanization, UNDP Bangladesh, and Yugesh Pradhanang, International Technical Advisor and Project Manager, (a.i.) of LIUPCP accompanied Kanni Wignaraja during the visit.

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This was Kanni Wignaraja’s first visit to LIUPC project area after being appointed as the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP, on 18 November 2019.