SWAPNO makes women’s dream true to come out of poverty

DHAKA, Aug 7, 2018 (BSS) – The life of Srimoti Malati Rani, 48, was horrified since her husband lost his eyesight due to typhoid after the birth of her first child.

“My husband’s family had little paternal property. Moreover, a lot of money had been spent for his treatment, unfortunately yielding no result,” Malati, who got married at an early age, said, while sharing bitter experience of her life with BSS.

Malati used to work as a day- labour, wherever she could find work, be it in nurseries, at houses, farms or in any other odd jobs. With the irregular nominal wages, it was difficult for her to provide food, clothes and education to her children.

“Working in multiple jobs left me tired and stressed, I was depressed,” Malati, mother of one daughter, said.

Since Malati joined the Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) in August 2015, her prospects have begun to change.

“After receiving my first wage of Taka 3,600 and a savings of Taka 1200 in the bank as a SWAPNO beneficiary, I was incredibly happy and overwhelmed,” she said.

“I thanked all for returning `hope’ in my life, and I aspired to raise up my children in a well manner and education,” she said.

Like Malati, Shaheda Parvin, 24, changed her life through joining the SWAPNO. She also faced financial crisis due to divorce with her husband at her early age.

Now, she dreams for an empowered future of her daughter where she will be educated and independent. She wants to take lease a piece of land and start an agricultural farming with her savings from SWAPNO Project.

Talking to BSS, training specialist of SWAPNO Kajal Chatterjee said SWAPNO is a social security project of the government that is helping as many as 8,928 poor women in the rural areas of Satkhira and Kurigram districts to fulfill their dreams and potentials.

The Local Government Division is implementing the five-year project from April 2015 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF) and BSRM.

Chatterjee said, a total of 4,464 widows, divorcees, and wives of disabled persons have found better life than before after completing the first phase of the project.

After successfully completion of the first phase of the project, Chaterjee said, the project has already selected another 4,464 extreme poor women of the districts for the second phase and they are working in maintenance of the union level government property.

He informed that SWAPNO has also launched e-payment system in the 112 unions of the districts.

According to a survey of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), women were employed from August 2015 to February 2017 for 18 months in the first phase. Each beneficiary received a total of Taka 66,450 in cash along with the amount of Taka 22,150 as a ‘graduation bonus’, which was built up from the mandatory savings scheme of the project.

The project helped each woman to earn Taka 40,000 which has led to a drastic fall of their poverty from moderate and extreme level. They are now more secured in taking daily food and incur non-food expenditure, particularly for education of children.

Livestock is now the main assets of the beneficiaries. Apart from increasing their income the composition of their assets has also changed as livestock constitutes about 43 percent of their total assets which was only 13 percent before their joining with SWAPNO.

The ‘graduation bonus’ has helped the beneficiaries’ to get lease of agricultural land. Their shift of occupation from a wage labor to a mix farmer has put an great impact on their self-esteem and social status.

All the indicators of the project shows that the beneficiaries now aspire to live in a better life and they will be able to continue to do so in the absence of the project, according to the survey.