Diverse jute products change distressed women’s fate in Kurigram

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KURIGRAM, Sept 26, 2019 (BSS) – Hundreds of distressed women, mainly
divorced and widowed, of the district have proved that skills training, small
fund and most importantly access to market are sufficient to become self-
reliant.

More than 700 distressed women of different villages under Ulipur upazila
became economically empowered by making different kinds of diverse jute
products like felts, bags, mat, hand fan, pillow cover, show pieces and
ornaments.

A non-government women development organization of the district named
‘Associate for Reviver Initiatives’ popularly known as ‘Naree’ (women) had
played the facilitator’s role behind their success as it took the initiative
of creating employments for jobless distressed women in 2014.

“The most important thing is to ensure market access of the products. In
most cases, our rural women fail to earn money due to lack of training and
inability to select a place to market their products,” said Farida Yesmin a
member of Naree, who played a key role for the success of the women.

“We make sure that women get appropriate market access of their products.
And we succeeded in doing so …. Right now, some of their products are being
exported abroad,” said Farida.

Firstly, she said Naree had identified a group of distressed women mainly
widows and divorcees at Ramnadash Dhonipara beside Ulipur-Chilmari highway
and conducted skills training for them.

After getting trained, the women received small fund from Naree for
producing diverse jute products, she said.

“We installed 300 tants for the trained women for making various products
from jute and we formed a market chain to sell the products,” she said.

Recounting her journey as a member of Naree, Farida said, “At first we
opened a showroom for displaying the products in the district. After that we
started to participate in different fairs across the country.”

The diverse jute products, made by these poor women drew buyers’ attention
at different fairs mainly for their attractive design and good quality. “Now
products of some women are being exported abroad,” Farida said.

However, she said they had faced tough time to get financial support from
the banks as the lending bodies still hesitate to disburse loan to women.

“I am a single mother. My bad days started when my husband left me and my
son, after four years of our marriage. At that time I didn’t know any other
work apart from household chore. I had no idea how I would survive in this
harsh world,” said Shefaly Akhtera recalling her past experiences.

She described in a dismal voice how she was neglected by her family
members and the society, after being abandoned by her husband. “My husband
was gone, my son’s father was gone, my only source of income was gone, the
only person left to fix all of these was me,” she said.

As days passed by, the gloomy fog dissipated and slowly gave way to sunny
days as ‘Naree’ stood beside her, provided her training and fund for becoming
self-reliant.

“I am fine right now as I am earning Taka 250 to 300 per day by making
various jute products … I have recently enrolled my six-year-old son to
school …. I hope that he will become established and lead a dignified life
one day,” said Shefaly, one of those 700 self-reliant women said, with tears
of satisfaction in her eyes.

President of Bangladesh Mohila parishad of Kurigram Rawshan Ara Chowdhury
thanked the present government for taken various initiatives to ensure women
empowerment.

“When rural women become economically empowered, they start participating
in the families decision making process… it helps them to bring up their
children in a better environment,” she said.

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