Bangladesh | ActionAid UK


We began working in Bangladesh in 1983. Since then we have helped over half a million people fight poverty and claim their rights.

We support vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change and protect themselves against future disasters. And we help women and girls protect themselves from violence.

Why we work in Bangladesh

Poverty is deep and widespread in Bangladesh and it is made worse by the exploitation of women and girls, and the impacts of extreme weather like cyclones and hurricanes.

Cases of violence against women are very high, especially rape, acid attacks, and child trafficking. Around 400 women and children fall victim to trafficking each month in Bangladesh. Most of them are between 12 and 16 and are forced to work in the commercial sex industry.1

Approximately 990 girls aged under 18 reported being raped between 2003 and 2008, while stigma and an unreliable justice system prevents many girls from reporting their experiences to the police and getting the support they need. 2


  • 40
    More than 40% of women had their first experience of forced sex aged 14 or below.1
  • 100
    In 2014, 2.8 million people were affected by flash flooding. 150,000 people’s homes were destroyed.2
  • 40
    Over 40% of girls in Bangladesh are married by their 15th birthday.3

Bangladesh is very badly affected by climate change. In 2014, 150,000 people’s homes were completely destroyed by flash floods. Cylones and storms are getting bigger and coming faster and women and children are most at risk.

A growing number of women and girls in Dhaka’s slums have arrived because they have lost their homes in rural Bangladesh to rising sea levels. Climate disasters can also increase pressure on girls to marry young and drop out of school, as already poor families struggle to feed their children.

A lack of respect for workers’ rights results in disasters like the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013. The legal system does not do enough to protect workers and prevent violence, meaning all too often the suffering of women is ignored.

A busy slum beside a railway in Dhaka, Bangladesh

A busy slum beside a railway in Dhaka — one of many dangerous slums in Bangladesh where girls are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

Photo: Sharron Lovell/ActionAid

What we do in Bangladesh

Keeping girls safe from harm

Girls in Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation, including sexual abuse and harassment, forced marriage, forced labour and trafficking. We work with 62 partner organisations to help the most vulnerable women and girls.

Our local staff search the streets of Dhaka to find girls in possible danger and bring them to a safe space at one of our five ‘Happy Homes’. Here ActionAid girls can receive healthy food, emotional support, access to education and life skills. More than 17,000 girls have already been helped.

Through funding from child sponsorship, we also fund child spaces in Dhaka slums where girls and their mothers can come to learn about their legal rights and to gain the confidence to challenge attitudes that allow violence to flourish.

Adapting to climate change

We support women living on the margins of survival to prepare and adapt to climate change. We build flood-proof villages, provide salt-resistant seeds, teach children how to survive in a disaster and build child-friendly spaces where they can continue their studies when the route to school is flooded. We also help local women’s groups develop innovative farming techniques and campaign for stronger embankments.

Improving workers rights

Through training and support, we make people aware of their rights to health care, clean water, education and safe working conditions. We support nearly 200,000 female workers in garment factories around the country, by teaching them about labour laws and giving them the confidence and skills to stand up to their managers and demand their rights.

How we’re changing lives for good in Bangladesh

ActionAid works in both rural and urban parts of Bangladesh, supporting the most vulnerable women and children to protect themeselves from violence, access their right to education, and increase their resilience to the effects of climate change.