Nijera Kori’s overarching goal, as noted above, is a society free from oppression and deprivation through the establishment of the fundamental rights of people. It believes that the struggle to transform the underlying structures of inequality, injustice and exclusion must be conducted on a number of different levels, starting with the individual and extending to the village, regional and national levels. In addition, it must encompass the various spheres, economic, social and political, in which the poor are denied their rights.
In realising this goal, Nijera Kori follows a number of principles that Nijera Kori adheres to, and they are:
Nijera Kori believes that there is poverty, unemployment, concentration of wealth and power and various other injustices in the society. The majority of the poor are exploited by a handful, as the means of production as well as political power are owned and controlled by the latter. In this back- drop, Nijera Kori defined its role to act as a facilitator of a dialogical process, through which people would be equipped with the ability to analyse and assess their situation and to take action to redress the prevailing system. In this effort, Nijera Kori provides technical services to promote self-confidence and enhance people’s organisational capacity so that they are able to claim and/or establish their rights through building their own organisations rather than depending on the agency such as Nijera Kori to act on their behalf.
Though Bangladesh has become famous for its innovation in the arena of micro-credit, Nijera Kori continues with its principle of ‘non delivery of credit’. Nijera Kori believes that micro-credit cannot and does not reach all sections of society – especially the neglected communities and people, who needs it the most. At the same time, Nijera Kori also believes that micro-credit programmes of NGOs, as an alternative financial institution, instead of making people self reliant self-reliant, succeeded in creating dependencies and vulnerabilities among the communities those have enlisted under the micro-credit program.
For Nijera Kori, gender equality is one of the pillars of the organisation and remains central to Nijera Kori’s understanding of poverty and social injustice. Nijera Kori recognises that patriarchy perpetuates the disadvantages of inequality, injustice and exclusion, which are intensified in relation to women and girls. In addition, they also suffer from gender-specific forms of discrimination and domestic violence within their household as well as face restrictions on their physical movements and discrimination within the labour market in the larger society. Nijera Kori also believes that male-female relations need not be inherently antagonistic and that men can become women’s allies in the struggle against patriarchal oppression. Indeed, without active support and participation of the men from their families and from their class, poor women will find their own struggle for respect and recognition far more difficult.
Nijera Kori’s capacity-building strategy emanates from a fundamental belief that “power” should and must remain with the people. Hence, Nijera Kori’s programs and activities are structured to ensure that financial and organisational autonomy remains with the people. Nijera Kori emphasises on promoting autonomous nature and structure of the working people’s organisations so that the resource–poor members gradually decrease their dependency on Nijera Kori and finally rely on their own strength.
Nijera Kori believes in the enormous power of collective action, and consciously deploys its resources to strengthen bonds among the members of the poor people’s organisation. This process is supported by high frequency of meetings, for both staff and landless groups. This frequency of face-to-face meetings is important for promoting closer relationships, establishing trust and ensuring participatory decision-making and accountability.
Participatory democracy is the core value that shapes Nijera Kori’s management structure and decision-making process. Nijera Kori also aims to infuse the democratic principles in the management of the people’s organisation that they facilitate to develop. Nijera Kori strongly believes that democratic management is the key to successfully establish the rights of the poor
Nijera Kori team based on a thorough analysis of the causes of poverty, inequality and social injustice, concluded to work with a broad spectrum of poor people who primarily depend on selling of labour as their main source of livelihood. They include wage labourers, sharecroppers, small and marginal farmers and people involved in various traditional trades and occupations. Furthermore, Nijera Kori makes it a priority to involve the ethnic communities of Bangladesh within its program. In sum, Nijera Kori aims to work with the poor who lives under extreme poverty and whose basic human rights and needs are largely ignored by the society.
The defined target population, according to Nijera Kori’s analyses, is faced with multiple constraints such as economic, social and political. In terms of economic constraint, the poor i.e., the landless and asset-less rely on direct or indirect sale of their labour power to meet their basic needs. However, due to existing structure and organisation of the labour market the poor as a labour-seller have very little or no bargaining power. They must therefore accept wages for their labour, which are often arbitrarily determined by the buyers and may not be sufficient to meet even their daily subsistence needs. In political terms the poor rarely have any voice in local or national structures of decision-making. At the informal village level and/or local government institutions the powerful landed sections of village society dominate the shalish (informal village court) which addresses disputes within village society and in the delivery of the government’s programs. In social terms, the poor are kept in their place by powerful norms and beliefs which legitimatise their oppression and disenfranchisement, and also prevent them from questioning the status quo. Due to their lack of exposure to any alternative set of values, and often reinforced by their lack of basic education, has left the poor unaware of their legally recognised rights, while absence of their own organisation prevents them from claiming and establishing these rights. An additional set of cultural norms and practice further undermines the position of women.