International Women’s Day was widely observed at The Sreepur Village on 8th March with considerable enthusiasm. It was an opportunity for our mothers to celebrate womanhood in all its form. It is important to address the unpleasant truth about our mothers and girls and what they have had to endure throughout their lives. The mothers in The Sreepur village are from different backgrounds, but all have suffered beyond comprehension. They have experienced violence, abuse, social prejudice, gender inequality and extreme poverty. Violence against women is extremely prevalent in Bangladesh, especially against women who come from impoverished sections of society. Sadly, dowry related violence; rape; domestic violence; sexual harassment and social discrimination against women are widespread occurrences.
In The Sreepur Village we celebrated International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Be Bold for Change’, which could not have been more apt for a group of rural mothers who were drafted from far-flung villages around Bangladesh. These mothers escaped their former lives and are now engineering an equal position in society. They can achieve independence as a result of earning their own livelihood and The Sreepur Village are trying to support these destitute mothers to provide a better life for their children and future generations. All mothers of The Sreepur Village attend a programme presented by other mothers in the community who have been through the same experiences. Two of our mothers presented motivational speeches for International Women’s Day and some of them performed dances and songs in celebration. The Sreepur Village Trade producers also created posters supporting the 10 principles of WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization).
The Sreepur Village really are empowering women in Bangladesh. When we work towards the rehabilitation of a mother, we develop her skills and provide her with the tools to enable her to earn a livelihood whilst also adjusting and developing her mind-set to achieve this. Without doing so, it would be impossible to work for her advancement and independence. You may have read about Momina in some of our other blogs, she was one of our oppressed mothers, who joined our family with her two girls nearly 15 months ago. Primarily at The Sreepur Village, Momina began to work on our tailoring training scheme; with a view to securing a job at a garment factory. It was her primary plan for her future when we talked with her three months earlier. But for Momina, the sights have been set higher with an even more empowering and ambitious vision. Momina is now a well-respected and accomplished ‘Leader Mother’ in the village and is in charge of our ‘Tailoring Training Section’. She now helps our new and less experienced mothers to develop their skills and expertise during training sessions, whilst also practicing her own skills regularly to continue her improvement.
‘For the past two months I’m a leader mother, I have been learning how to lead and how to give the decision. In my childhood, I have completed grade five, here I was admitted to ‘Open University’ (higher study for adult mother). Basically, by all the training what I get here helps me to develop my skill and thought’ Momina says. She also included ‘why should I have a job rather than running a small business as tailoring shop. Through it, I can manage my living and I can give time to my daughters that will help them to be educated. From The Sreepur Village, at least, I know how to survive’.
Over the past 30 years, The Sreepur Village has empowered destitute and abused women in Bangladesh helping them to rebuild a positive life for themselves and their children, and our mothers adopt the International Women’s Day theme as a Mantra for life – ‘Be Bold for Change’ and that is exactly what they are.