Senate calls for political reform in Bangladesh and continued independence of Grameen Bank

January 8, 2014

Ongoing U.S. government leadership can help ensure progress against poverty continues

Washington, DC, January 8, 2014—Last night the U.S. Senate passed a resolution expressing the need for political reform in Bangladesh and the continued independence of Grameen Bank. The resolution, S. Res. 318, comes on the heels of widely boycotted national elections in Bangladesh earlier this week, noting that political reform is critical to the country’s stability. It also urges the government of Bangladesh to restore the autonomy of Grameen Bank, which provides access to credit and other vital services to more than 8 million of the poorest women in the country.

Bangladesh is a major and long-time recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. The resolution was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with bipartisan support on December 18, following its introduction by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Christopher Murphy (D-CT) earlier that month. The measure was co-sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Joanne Carter, executive director of RESULTS & RESULTS Educational Fund, released the following statement applauding the resolution:

This Senate resolution sends a powerful signal reinforcing the U.S. commitment to political openness, the Grameen Bank, and the Bangladeshi people.

The resolution rightly underscores the important relationship between political reform and Bangladesh’s hard-won gains against poverty. By standing up for the poor in Bangladesh at this critical moment, the Senate is helping ensure progress continues.

The Grameen Bank has helped bring tens of millions of very poor women and their families out of poverty. Unfortunately the government of Bangladesh’s recent attempt to wrest control of the Bank away from the borrowers who own it undermines the Bank’s very foundation. This threatens not only Grameen, but all of the independent organizations in Bangladesh that have been key to reducing poverty.

I’m grateful to Senator Durbin, in particular, for his leadership on this resolution, which continues his longstanding commitment to fighting poverty and to supporting the poorest women in Bangladesh and around the world. Following on this resolution—and a history of strong support for the people of Bangladesh—the U.S. government should continue vigorously encouraging political reform in Bangladesh in the months ahead.

RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund are sister organizations that, together, are a leading force in ending poverty in the United States and around the world. We create long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes — lack of access to medical care, education, or opportunity to move up the economic ladder. We do this by empowering ordinary people to become extraordinary voices for the end of poverty in their communities, the media, and the halls of government. The collective voices of these passionate grassroots activists, coordinated with grass-tops efforts driven by our staff, leverage millions of dollars for programs and improved policies that give low-income people the tools they need to move out of poverty.

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