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Finding a Voice for the Voiceless: Indigenous People Gain Recognition in Bangladesh

By: Ayesha Dastgir, Bibhash Chakraborty, Oxfam Great Britain

Despite the fact that the government has signed international agreements protecting their rights, the 2.2 million indigenous or adibashi peoples of Bangladesh experience structural prejudice, discrimination, and violence from the majority Bengali community. They lack power and influence at community, regional, and national levels. In response to this, Oxfam GB and its 20 partner organisations set up the Indigenous People’s Capacity Building Programme. This aimed to ensure that the northern adibashi peoples, who are the most discriminated against, could hold the government to account. The programme increased the numbers of adibashi children in primary school, improved women’s participation in traditional social structures, helped adibashis claim land, and made them less vulnerable to exploitation. This has increased the community’s confidence and helped them to speak out and claim their rights.