Activism & Global Learning. Together for more justice
Cross-continental solidarity: This encapsulates the ethos under which a multitude of volunteers at NETZ operate from Germany. Their efforts serve dual purposes: firstly, to fortify the well-being and dignity of individuals in Bangladesh and India, and secondly, to enrich pivotal societal discussions in Germany concerning women’s rights, climate justice, and overall sustainability.
In 2022, the commitment of many NETZ supporters was focused on climate justice and food security. With numerous solidarity actions, in educational events and lectures, the committed people drew attention to this. In the process, Russia‘s war of aggression on Ukraine and the associated consequences for the world were repeatedly addressed. The effects of the war on the global food supply and especially vulnerable people in the Global South have dismayed people in this country. At the same time, they show how important peace and cooperation are for a more just world. NETZ has shown solidarity with the people of Ukraine in the face of the war of aggression and called for an immediate end to the attacks and violence.
After Covid-related restrictions, NETZ 2022 was again able to implement more face-to-face events at action groups, schools and support circles. Among the actions were workshops, lectures and exchange meetings as well as fundraising activities. The Bangladesh conference in May in Frankfurt was entitled “Can We Still Feed? Nutrition in Crisis.” Lectures, roundtable discussions and group work highlighted the extent of the challenges posed by the climate crisis to the livelihoods of people living in extreme poverty – especially in Bangladesh, the country particularly hard hit by the consequences of the climate crisis. Shahidul Islam, director of NETZ‘s Dhaka office, reported on the 19 million children affected by climate change in the country and pointed out the particularly vulnerable situation of girls and young women. In view of this, the participants put action in the foreground. Together with Sabine Pabst (FIAN), they discussed how empowerment can succeed under these circumstances, how political leaders can be held accountable, and how the right to food can be enforced. The clear message of the Bangladesh conference was thus: Hunger is not an inevitable fate, but a consequence of unjust distribution, made even more acute by man-made climate change. Through joint responsible action here and in Bangladesh, this hunger can be defeated. Shahidul Islam took the message to several schools and other educational institutions in Germany, where he held informational events with teachers and students to discuss educational justice and the consequences of climate change for Bangladesh.
Many people work together to make NETZ‘s educational work possible. In 2022, NETZ‘s voluntary education working group focused on socio-political issues. During their meetings, members engaged in discussions and developed new insights and approaches concerning feminist perspectives, gender issues, critical whiteness, and climate justice.
During an educational trip to Bangladesh, NETZ volunteers initiated an exchange on important life issues from a female perspective: male-dominated structures, lack of educational opportunities, traditional gender roles, and the freedom or lack of freedom to emancipate oneself. The four young women from Germany talked about these challenges with women from Bangladesh and compiled their findings in the form of a video documentary. Through volunteers and staff, NETZ has acted as a multiplier in several events on climate justice: at the climate camp in Wetzlar with an interactive workshop and a lecture on „Commitment to Climate Protection and Human Rights“, at the Bangladesh Meeting in Freiburg and in Duisburg at a climate strike of the student initiative „Weitblick“. There, an appeal for more climate justice by NETZ climate expert Mohammad Moniruzzaman from Bangladesh was read out. In addition, over a thousand children, young people and adults were reached in numerous educational events and sensitized to global challenges using Bangladesh as an example. In addition to the major complex of „climate and food,“ human and children‘s rights, school education, and perspectives critical of power and gender were also addressed. Another focus was on exploitative conditions in the textile industry.
In 2022, supporters throughout Germany collected donations in numerous campaigns and organized local solidarity events. In addition to donations on birthdays and anniversaries, committed individuals at schools organized fundraising runs and sponsored cycling events, including the Michael Ende High School in Tönisvorst, the Hohenstaufen High School in Bad Wimpfen and the Deutschorden High School in Bad Mergentheim. In addition, worldshops, church congregations and voluntary groups such as the Rellingen women‘s clothing market collected donations and collections for projects in Bangladesh. The carol singers were again active throughout Germany for Bangladesh and enabled a total of 2,119 children to attend primary school.
The Vienna Development Aid Club was once again among the supporters in 2022. At its club party with a panel discussion, NETZ Executive Director Max Stille was a guest and spoke on the topic of „Overcoming Hunger.“ Service clubs in Germany and Austria, such as the Rotary Club of Villach, also supported the work in Bangladesh. The anniversaries of multiple groups demonstrated that the dedication to NETZ and Bangladesh has often stood the test of time: Both the Bangladesh Group Tübingen-Hirschau and the Sternsingergemeinde St. Benedikt in Bayreuth cele- brated their 20-year commitment to Bangladesh. Long-time member Eva Manke from Kempen implemented a special idea in 2022: She restored and decorated a Bangladeshi rickshaw that wedding couples in the region can borrow for the trip to the registry office. In this way, they combine their personal journey to marital bliss with a donation for the most disadvantaged people.
NETZ makes an impact – not just locally but also on the general public. Through its public relations work, the organization informs a nationwide audience on topics ranging from politics, society, and economy in Bangladesh to global development policy and the association’s activities. NETZ disseminates information through monthly newsletters, special releases, press statements, and comments on current political events. In 2022 alone, the organization’s work, along with that of its partners in Bangladesh, was covered 211 times by regional, national, and international media outlets. This coverage included reports on solidarity actions, development education initiatives, and the association’s various activities.
The NETZ homepage with the Bangladesh portal is a unique source of information with reports, interviews, background texts and analyses for all those interested in development policy, South Asia fans and users connected with NETZ
The NETZ magazine is the most important German-language magazine on Bangladesh. Reports, interviews and background texts on key topics provide insights into social developments. In the reporting year, the issue „Feminist Literature – How Bangladeshi Authors Fight for Women“ was published. In this issue, NETZ exclusively translated texts by Bengali women authors and presented them with accompanying texts to a German-speaking audience.
Development policy Volunteer Service
Since 1991, NETZ has regularly sent young people to Bangladesh to learn and work with our local partners. In 2019, Sompa Rani was the first volunteer from Bangladesh to start her voluntary service at the NETZ office in Wetzlar. In 2022, neither the South- North nor the North-South volunteer service could be prepared and take place due to corona. In the NETZ office in Wetzlar, Louisa Rixen has been doing her service as a federal volunteer since September 2022.