Empowerment of Sherpur Garo women beaconing hope for others

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DHAKA, May 31, 2019 (BSS) – Trishna Mrong, a proud Garo woman from
Jhinaigati, Sherpur, is working as a teacher at a local school. Trishna’s
husband Kumar Chichan also works with a local NGO. They manage their family
with the help of each other.

“He also provides help for the family, but he never imposes his influence
on me or family. He gives priority to my opinions because of our women-
centric family system,” Trishna said.

It is not just Trishna’s husband, Anjan Areng, headmaster of Moriyam Nagar
High School in Vayadanga under Jhinaigati upazila, has also been lived with
his in-laws in Haluaghat area since his marriage.

“You can’t term us as typical Ghor Jamai, men who live with their in-laws.
Our family system is matriarch. Every man starts living at their in-laws’
houses just after they get married. My wife Aruna Mrong is also a teacher and
my entire life circles are depend around her,” Anjan said.

Anjan’s sister-in-law Augusta Mrong is also highly-educated and works as a
deputy assistant agricultural officer. Her banker husband Mukul Chiyan also
lives with his in-laws like Anjan.

The empowerment of women in Garo community is beaconing hope for rest of
the women folks in the country, not because of their matriarch-led family
system but also the expansion of education. Garo women in Sherpur are doing
great compared to the women from other small ethnic communities, mainly
because of their educational qualification.

Garo community leader Jogen Koch said there are mainly four small ethnic
communities-Garo, Koch, Hajong and Burman- are living in Nakshi area in
Sherpur.

“Of the four, Garo people live in matriarch-led family. They are much ahead
in educational qualification than others. The Garo women work outside and get
handsome salaries. It is natural to have a stronger opinion in family when
you earn a good amount of money. Apart from this, only women inherit
ancestral properties in Garo community,” Jogen said.

Koch, about the reason of better status of women in their community, said,
“When you know many things from your educational background, when you earn
good, when you inherit properties, it is pretty much obvious that you have
louder voice in the family as well as in the society.”

Sumanta Burman, an official of a local NGO IED, said the Garo people have
progressed a lot, especially in the last one decade.

“Garo people live in different parts of Netrokona, Sherpur, Sylhet,
Jamalpur, Moulvibazar, Tangail, Gazipur and Dhaka.

Of these, Garo community in Sherpur have made much progress compared to
others. The women of Sherpur Garo community have been empowered a lot because
of their educational qualification as well as their unique family system,”
Sumanta said.

Sumanta’s views were echoed by another NGO official Pranjal Sangma from
Sribardi upazilla. He said the Garo women made much progress in terms of
empowerment because of their educational qualification and matriarch-led
family system.

“You will not find any illiterate Garo woman in the area,” he said.

Sherpur upazilla woman vice-charman Shamim Ara said Garo women in the area
have achieved remarkable success in the last one decade.

“They have joined different offices after completing their studies…They
are living a comparatively modern and prosperous life.

According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics survey, of the 5.41 crore
working people in the country, 1.62 crore are women. Almost eighty percent of
the total workforce in country’s main foreign currency earning sector garment
industry are women.

Country’s women folks are moving forward and leaving their marks in every
sector, but the progress of Garo women can be a shining example for others as
what education, social and family support system can do to empower women.

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