Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Strong Bangla Women

Prokritee ("nature" in Bangla) is the umbrella name for eight separate enterprises scattered across the rice paddies of Bangladesh. Their central office is in the capital of Dhaka and we'll have our "home base" there as we fan out to visit each of the projects.

Prokritee's Goals:

A. Income-Generating Projects
Creating, promoting and assisting income-generating projects that:

  • are operated and managed to benefit the producers
  • adhere to good safety and environmental standards
  • are or have the potential to become self reliant

B. Women's Employment
Hiring Women employees who:

  • are head-of-households (widows, divorcees, or separated)
  • have little, if any income
  • are landless with few or no assets
  • are primarily rural

C. Skills Development
Providing training to increase the skills of personnel within income-generating enterprises.

The artisans' stories are many, wide and varied. But all have the same theme--women overcoming immense cultural barriers. Just one of many is Hajera Hayadaly who works at Bonoful Paper in Mymensingh district. When she was eleven her widowed mother found a husband for her so there was one less child to feed. Her new husband was seventy years old and soon unable to work because of his increasing age. This left her responsible to provide for their family of four children. From her earnings at Bonoful, she has been able to support and educate her family. With her dividend earnings Hajera was able to purchase a piece of land and cultivate rice. She is pleased that she is able to provide for her family so well.

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