45,000 rural women become self-reliant

As many as 45,000 poor rural women have changed fortune to attain sustainable development in four districts of greater Rangpur region, reports BSS.

Earlier, these women of 1,454 backward communities in 25 unions of seven upazilas of Rangpur, Nilphamari, Gaibandha and Lalmonirhat districts led miserable life amid food insecurity during seasonal lean periods.

However, they have become self-reliant through collective actions and engagements in income generating activities (IGAs) with the assistance of the SETU project and massive social safety-net programmes of the government.

Talking to BSS, the women said that they were trapped within a vicious cycle of generational poverty during seasonal lean periods in ‘Aswin’ and ‘Kartik’ months, even 12 years back.

This transformation continued with the support of the seven-year term project of the Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra-Poor (SETU) project of CARE Bangladesh since 2009 to 2016 improving living standard of the rural women.

Like in the other backward communities, 62 women-led extremely poor households of Gangadas Baraipara village in Sadar upazila of Rangpur have won poverty and attained social, economic, political and women empowerment.

“We identified our problems and collectively took decision to address those,” said President of Baraipara ‘Para Unnayan Committee’ Naresh Chandra. The villagers brought all 62 households under total sanitation coverage within a month after identifying open defecation practice as a major reason for various water-borne diseases.

The community-led total development approaches of the project facilitated environment for the change through enhancing human, social, economic and political capitals. To cope with the lean season, the women formed ‘Baraipara Women Savings Group (BWSG)’ and women forum ‘EKATA’ with 25 volunteers.

Volunteer of ‘EKATA’ Pompa Rani said, “Our village is now neat and clean, free from water-borne diseases, child marriage, malnutrition, illiteracy and women repression. All able couples, pregnant women and adolescents have knowledge on health and hygiene.”

President of BWSG Moyna Rani said project beneficiaries Joytsna Rani, Jamuna Rani and Shanti Rani got Taka 8,000 each as interest free loans from BWSG and invested in different businesses and IGAs.

“Every family is now earning well even after the expiry of the SETU project as the government assistance under the social safety-net programmes continues,” said General Secretary of BWSG Bharoti Rani.

Similarly, Rahima Begum and Sufia Begum of village Sarkerpara in Ramnagar union of Sadar upazila of Nilphamari said they identified problems of their community first and collectively addressed those.

Local community leader Anufa Begum said the villagers used the SETU project grants and mobilised local resources and took collective actions to diversify livelihoods, built own organisations and relationship with local Ramnagar Union Parishad..

“Through forming the EKATA group and ‘Sarkerpara Women Savings Group (SWSG)’, the volunteers freed the village from all social curses and improved their socioeconomic, sanitation, nutritional and health conditions,” she added.