To reinforce this democratic process that will offer approximately 90 million eligible Bangladeshis a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives, a month long campaign to raise awareness about voting and civic responsibilities was organized by the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka. And with preparations for the December 2008 elections now revving up, the timing could not have been better.

High Commissioner of Canada Barbara Richardson was recently on hand in Dhaka to inaugurate the civic awareness campaign in a street launching ceremony.  To highlight the importance of registering on the voter’s list and voting in the upcoming election, the High Commissioner handed out sports caps and reflective stickers with the slogan Your Vote is Your Fundamental Right/Obligation – ‘Apnar Vote, Apnar Odhikar’ in Bangla – to rickshaw pullers and the general public.

Local Dhaka NGO and students
Local Dhaka NGO and students

The month long campaign also made its way to Chittagong, Jessore and Khulna with the help of three NGO project partners: the Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO) in Dhaka; Young Power in social Action (YPSA) in Chittagong, and Uttaran in Jessore and Khulna.

By involving local volunteers and having partner NGOs talk to the general public about the importance of registering and voting in the upcoming election, the campaign was a true display of grass-roots outreach and advocacy.

School students distributing the stickers and caps to rickshaw pullers and other vendors
School students distributing the stickers and caps to rickshaw pullers and other vendors

Over the course of the one month campaign, a total of 28,100 caps and reflective stickers were distributed, with a focus on rickshaw pullers.  As rickshaws offer an affordable form of transportation to millions of people in the country, they were the perfect vehicle – literally – to raise awareness among the masses.

In Khulna and Jessore rallies were organized with opening remarks in both English and Bangla from Election Commission representatives, representatives from the High Commission of Canada and NGO co-ordinators.  The rallies were in turn followed by a procession of approximately 200 volunteers and rickshaw pullers around the city core.

School students distributing the stickers and caps to rickshaw pullers and other vendors
School students distributing the stickers and caps to rickshaw pullers and other vendors

The civic awareness campaign to promote one’s democratic right to vote was warmly received by the public, with many remarks made about the fun and unique approach to raising civic consciousness, and the relationship with the local community was strengthened as a result.  There was also a considerable amount of positive media coverage, which only added to the success of the campaign by increasing awareness about the importance of voting.

Supporting the democratic process in Bangladesh and working towards ensuring a free, fair and peaceful election process is a priority for the Canadian Government.  The civic awareness campaign is one step in the right direction.


Source: Canadian High Commission, Dhaka, Bangladesh,  2008-01-31

Ahmed Hussen
Director of Communications
Canadian International Peace Project

1027 Finch Avenue West
P.O. Box 30088
Toronto, Ontario
M3J 3L6


The Canadian International Peace Project ( CIPP) is a novel and unique non-partisan organisation that has brought together diverse groups and individuals to work on issues and projects relating to local, national and international peace, security and development . Through partnership on events and projects, the CIPP fosters mutual respect and sustainable relationships among diverse groups including those in conflict with each other. 
This article is for informational purposes only.