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Some 45,000 extremely poor rural women of 1,454 backward communities in four districts of greater Rangpur have made a transformational change in their lives by winning poverty in last 10 years, reports BSS.
They have become self-reliant through community solidarity, collective actions and engagements in income generating activities (IGAs), mainly off-farm, and governments’ social safety-net programmes with supports of local Union Parishads.
Talking to BSS, the successful women living in 25 unions of seven upazilas in Rangpur, Nilphamari, Gaibandha and Lalmonirhat narrated their journey with community action plan based on participatory analysis of extreme poverty.
They remained trapped in vicious cycle of generational poverty amid foodinsecurity especially during seasonal lean periods in ‘Aswin’ and ‘Kartik’months even 10-year back.
Their transformational change prompted since 2009 with multidimensional interventions of the six-year term (2009-2015) Social and Economic Transformation of the Ultra-Poor (SETU) project of CARE Bangladesh, they said.
Besides bringing change in economic lives of the rural women, the project that ended in 2015 greatly assisted them in reducing conventional wage discrimination between male and female farm-labourers.
Aklima Khatun, Mohsena and Sufia Begum of village Sarkerpara under Ramnagar union in Sadar upazila of Nilphamari, said they identified problems of the community first and collectively took decision to address those.
Housewife Rahima Begum of the village said, “We identified open defecation practice as a major reason for water-borne diseases and decided to resolve the problem through Community Led Total Sanitation approach.”
Local Union Parishad Member and inhabitant of the village Anufa Begum said, “We brought all 116 households under cent percent sanitation coverage within a month side by side with ensuring pure drinking water for all.”
The villagers used the project’s grants and mobilised local resources, potentials and took collective actions to diversify livelihoods, built own organisations and relationship with local Union Parishad authority.
Through forming 25-member women’s group, its volunteers freed the village from child marriage, malnutrition, illiteracy and repression and provided the able couples, pregnant women and adolescent with knowledge on family planning, health and hygiene. To cope with lean season when the villagers had to sale labour in advance and household goods, the villagers formed local community based ‘Sarkerpara Women Savings Group’ with Anufa Begum as its General Secretary.
In the beginning, members of saving group deposited fistful rice every week as savings when they could take rice as loan at vulnerable times and repaid again.
Following improvement of their socioeconomic, sanitation, nutritional and health conditions, members of the savings group raised its capital and started providing loans up to Taka 8,000 among its members for income generating activities.
Beneficiaries Dilara Begum, Mariyam Nesa and Tahuza Begum said they took Taka 8,000 each as interest free loans from the savings group and invested in businesses and IGAs with assistance of their husbands.

Chairman of Ramnagar union Mizanur Rahman said, “These rural women earlier remained trapped in vicious cycle of poverty. But, they have become self-reliant through various IGAs making a transformational change in theirlives.”
Similarly, Iqbal Hossain, Chairman of Haridebpur union under Rangpur Sadar upazila, said all extremely poor women-led households of Gangadas Baraipara community attained self-reliance, improved life standard along with women empowerment.
“These successful rural women are doing well to achieve sustainable development after winning extreme poverty, playing vital role in their family and community affairs and their children are going to schools,” Iqbal added.