Pathways to Politics: Analyzing Motivations and Enabling Factors for Women in Politics in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Client: United Nations Development Programme, Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility
Faculty: Paul Smoke, John Gershman
Team: Kathryn Hale, Kate Likely, Emily Richard
Year: 2012
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is an area characterized by a complex social and political environment and located in the south-eastern corner of Bangladesh. CHT has remained largely outside the mainstream of development assistance for more than 25 years due to an insurgency which ended with the signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997. Since 2003, UNDP-CHTDF has been the lead agency among the development partners carrying out programs and projects that range from health services to community empowerment. In July 2011, Union Parishad elections (lowest tier of local governance) saw a significant number of new women elected, including several who underwent UNDP-CHTDF gender and leadership training. The Capstone team conducted interviews with women in CHT to research women’s motivations to run for office, enabling factors that influenced their success in the election process, and key effects of election outcomes. The team then identified areas where UNDP-CHTDF can strengthen programming to increase the political participation and influence of women in the region.