How some women are sewing their way to empowerment in Bangladesh

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How some women are sewing their way to empowerment in Bangladesh
Women train to sew their way out of destitution. The picture was taken at a centre run by MRDI in the border village of Basatpur in Jessore.  Photo: MRDI

Women train to sew their way out of destitution. The picture was taken at a centre run by MRDI in the border village of Basatpur in Jessore.

It has always been a dream of Parveen Khatun to contribute financially to her family of six that includes three daughters and a son.
But the dream, seemed a distant one, because of her lack of education.
Her husband, a day labourer, was the sole bread earner for the family, meaning they had to live under constant hardship.
Parveen’s story, however, is not atypical for Jessore’s Basatpur village.
The village, lining the Bangladesh-India border, lacks opportunities, with destitution making many young women easy prey for human traffickers.
But thanks to attending a workshop at Basatpur Women and Children Development Agency, Parveen’s life took up a different narrative.
“I am now earning money — I make merchandise for many clothing stores in Dhaka with the sewing and embroidery skills I picked up at the workshop.”
The brainchild of Management and Resources Development Initiative (MRDI), the agency provides training to local women free of cost, and even pays them Tk 100 for each day of the training session.
Manusher Jonno Foundation, another development agency, is also giving assistance to the project.
“We will train 120 women during the three-year project, and so far, we have provided training to some 40 women,” said Selina Akter, the in-charge of the agency.
The sessions are conducted by a trainer, who has market access to Dhaka, five days a week in two shifts, at a one-storied building on five acres of land in Basatpur.
The women are taught how to make home accessories such as tissue box cover, table runner, showpiece, table mat and so on.
“Thanks to the training centre, many women who were the victims of trafficking now have the chance to lead a better life,” said Selina, adding that 10 such vulnerable women are getting training at the centre.
“I can earn Tk 1,600 for 20 days of training in a month. With this money, I can contribute to my family,” said Nazmun Nahar, another participant.
The project, at the moment, is funded by The City Bank under its corporate social responsibility programmes.
Hasibur Rahman, executive director of MRDI, said the project has been designed in such a way that it will continue even after the donors stop funding.
“This is the uniqueness of the project,” said Rahman.
The centre was inaugurated on September 1, 2012, in the presence of Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, the state minister for women and children affairs.