A lifetime of opportunity: Empowering women in Hatibandha with skills for success

Saharbanu wanted the chance to financially support both herself and her family. But living in the remote community of Hatibandha, Bangladesh, where nearly half of the 8,900 residents live on less than $1 a day, this would not be easy. In addition to living in poverty and having limited resources, women in the developing world often cannot gain economic independence, simply because they are women.

Recently, Saharbanu was among a group of women in her community who were able to gain access to skills training, with help from Plan’s Community Sponsorship project in Hatibandha. This training empowered her with valuable life skills to help generate income and improve her life and the life of her family.

This is her story.

Woman sews with daughters.

“I got the opportunity to get training in dress making and I know it will help me earn additional money and make clothes for my family members,” says Saharbanu, one of the program participants (pictured here, at centre, with her daughters).

A group of 10 women, including Saharbanu, had the chance to complete a 3-month tailoring and dressmaking program through a partnership with a nearby technical school. Literacy training was included as part of the core curriculum, helping ensure students are equipped with tools that are essential for running a small business.

For some women, it was the first time they had ever written their name. Their excitement was palpable.

Women hold their written names.

What’s in a name? Ask these women, and they’ll tell you there’s a whole lot. They’re some of the 40 women who learned how to write their names for the very first time, thanks to this program.

After completing the course, each woman received a sewing machine to help them kick-start their small enterprise endeavours – and they aren’t wasting any time in putting their skills into action. They’re ready to break down gender barriers, busting new doors of possibility wide open.

“My confidence level has increased,” says a smiling Saharbanu.

Because the majority of the new graduates are mothers, their children will also benefit from the opportunity: their mothers will now be able to afford school fees, medical bills, nutritious food and other basic necessities.

“After my admission to the program, I realized that I have a chance to make a positive change for me and my family,” says Saharbanu with pride.

A smiling woman sews.

Women take part in vocational skills training.

Unfortunately, gender discrimination and poverty often go hand in hand: a reality that is startlingly evident in rural parts of Bangladesh like Hatibandha. Here, child marriage and lack of education have led to extremely low literacy rates among women and some of the poorest household incomes in the world.

Only 7% of the children attending secondary school in Hatibandha are girls, and a staggering 90% of girls are married before their 18th birthday. But women like Saharbanu prove that if you invest in them, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Thanks to the success of the Community Sponsorship program, Saharbanu and many more women in Hatibandha are able to take that chance and reach heights they never thought were possible.

Women receive certificates.

Women receiving their certificates and sewing machines.

When you sponsor a community, you help improve the lives children and their families in practical, sustainable and truly impactful ways.

Imagine what more could be possible if we continue to invest in communities…

Sponsor the community of Kita Mali today, and start finding out.

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