In July 2013, Counterpart International conducted an impact assessment of the Bangladesh Leadership Development Program (LDP) to serve as a baseline for assessing the program’s effectiveness and measuring knowledge and capacity of recruited participants, inform the design of the training curriculum and lay the groundwork for future assessments of program impacts.

Implemented by Counterpart International and its local civil society organization partners, LDP a five-year initiative funded by USAID, aims at enhancing citizen’s engagement in democratic processes and community development. The program provides training to individuals as potential adult and youth leaders, seeking to enhance their knowledge, ability and participation in identifying needs and leading development activities within their communities.

This study highlights topics critical to citizen’s democratic orientation and participation in community development. The study is broken down into three sections:

1)      Introduction to the program and country context, including a demographic profile of LDP recruits, their perceptions of the main development needs in their community and their assessment of local economic and education opportunities

2)      LDP participants’ democratic orientation including their interest in politics and government, knowledge of how government works, endorsement of democratic values, views of the role of religion in government and views of the roles and rights of women and minorities

3)      LDP participants’ current community and political participation, with information on their self-assessed leadership skills and personal attributes, community organizing experience and information levels

Key findings of this review included the importance of cultural context in leadership training, including sensitivity toward traditional norms of behavior for women, and the impact of these norms on women’s perceptions of their ability to effect change. Counterpart will utilize this research to help shape its Leadership Development Strategy not only in Bangladesh, but also implement universal concepts in its Leadership Framework Globally.