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Each year on 5 December, the world celebrates International Volunteer Day by recognizing the contributions of volunteers to the global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year, UNFPA commemorated the day by joining the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives, UNV Bangladesh, VSO and WaterAid in hosting an event at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka. The Honourable Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Md. Tazul Islam; UN Resident Coordinator a.i., Tuomo Poutiainen; UNFPA Representative a.i., Dr. Eiko Narita; the Senior Secretary of Ministry of Youth and Sports, Md. Akther Hossain; and the Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives, Mr. Helal Uddin Ahmed, participated at the event as guests of honour.

The event was held to celebrate the contributions of volunteers to community development in Bangladesh during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, UNV paid tribute to individual UN Volunteers by choosing 20 “Champion UN Volunteers” from different UN agencies in the country. Four volunteers from UNFPA, Lipi Ghosh, Duti Gomes, Tamima Nasrin and Md. Rokonuzzaman were included among the Champion Volunteers.

From the profiles below, you may learn more about the immense contributions Lipi, Duti, Tamima and Rokonuzzaman have made to the work of UNFPA during 2021!

Lipi Ghosh, Programme & Administrative Assistant for the Adolescents & Youth Unit

“As a Programme & Administrative Assistant, I am responsible for ensuring that UNFPA’s Alapon helpline reaches as many young people in Bangladesh as possible. Alapon is a helpline number (09612 600 600) supported by UNFPA’s Generation Breakthrough project, which any young person between the ages of 10 and 24 can call to receive professional counselling and guidance. I have also played a key role in delivering tele-classes of the Gender Equity Movement in Schools on Sangsad Television channel and in mobilizing young people to educate each other on COVID-19 by spearheading the global #YouthAgainstCOVID19 campaign in Bangladesh.

What I love the most about my assignment is that I get to work with young Bangladeshis who are by far the greatest asset of our nation. My greatest achievement so far was when I got to represent Bangladeshi youth at the Intergenerational Dialogue of the Asian Parliamentarians and Youth Advocates on Meaningful Youth Engagement in 2021. It was an incredible opportunity for me to speak on behalf of millions of Bangladeshi youth and advocate for a more gender-equitable Bangladesh on a global stage!"

Duti Gomes, Programme Assistant for the SRHR Unit

“As a Programme Assistant for the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Unit at UNFPA Bangladesh, I provide day-to-day support to the Directorate General of Health Services in implementing its various programmes across Bangladesh. I provide crucial logistical support to arrange meetings, trainings and field visits and contribute to work plans, reports and budgets to ensure our work to achieve universal sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh is proceeding as efficiently as possible.

I have always wanted to do something that positively impacts humanity and brings hope to those who are suffering. I feel privileged to work as a UNV for UNFPA, because the organization shares my values of social justice, equality and integrity. Seeing these values displayed in my work each day keeps me aware of the good I am bringing to the world, which motives me to work even harder.”

Tamima Nasrin, UNV District Facilitator in Bogura District

“As a UNV District Facilitator for UNFPA, I work for the advancement of the “Women’s Rights and Stop Gender-Based Violence” project in Bogura District. In my role, I facilitate awareness programmes to prevent violence against women and girls at the community level. I also monitor cases of gender-based violence in cooperation with local police stations and provide psychosocial support to survivors of violence. Just between 2019-2021, our programmes have served over 150,000 people in Bogura District! Personally, I have mobilized more than 100 “Youth Volunteers for Gender Equality” to combat gender-based violence against women and girls.

The most enjoyable part of my work is that I get to meet all kinds of people from the local communities and break the silence around gender-based violence with them. It has been so inspiring to learn more about their challenges to overcome gender stereotypes, which remain strong in Bangladesh. Through my work, I hope I have inspired them to stop violence in their communities and motivated them to seek help whenever they witness violence around them!"

Md. Rokonuzzaman, UNV District Facilitator

“In my role as a UNV District Facilitator, I work with the Bangladesh Police, Department of Women Affairs and Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) to prevent Gender Based Violence against Women and Girls and to sensitize both employers and workers in the garment, footwear and leather industries on labour and human rights, as well sexual abuse and harassment at the workplace. I also train police officers at UNFPA’s Women Help Desks in 16 Police Stations across Dhaka and help them provide support to survivors in a sensitive and effective manner.

During my assignment, I have contributed to developing a Unified Register for all Women Help Desks, which helps document and store information on cases of gender-based violence around the country. I have also contributed to strengthening referral mechanisms at the Women Help Desk to ensure that survivors receive medical, legal and mental health counselling as quickly as possible. Furthermore, I also participated in developing a docudrama on “Gender Based Violence at the Workplace”, which DIFE is currently using in advocacy meetings with factory owners and workers, as well as in training sessions for labour inspectors."