Govt project creates employment opportunity for poor women

A government social security project styled Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) is generating employment for ultra-poor and vulnerable women in the poor community in Satkhira, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Jamalpur districts.

 The project is fixed wage contract for 18-months under public works component and need-based life skills and livelihoods trainings and formal financial inclusion are the major interventions of the project. 

 A total of 8,928 poor women in Satkhira and Kurigram districts have already been benefited under the two phases of SWAPNO project. And after getting huge responses in Satkhira and Kurigram districts, SWAPNO has expanded its activities in Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Jamalpur districts recently. 

The objective of the project is to ensure sustainable livelihood and food security for the extreme poor and vulnerable rural women. The Local Government Division is implementing the project from April 2015 to December 2020, with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Marico International and BSRM. 

 Third phase of the project in the three districts is going on. A total of 3,600 poor women of 100 unions under 11 upazilas will be benefited under this social safety net project. The project is also encouraging responsible saving and spending behavior by facilitating formal savings and participation in informal saving groups known as ROSCAs.

 Airon Begum, a dweller in a remote village of Kurigram, became devastated ten years ago after losing her husband. She had two children but had no means of income, savings or family supports while she had lost her husband.

 For a living, she had to work at a local confectionery to make “muri” (puffed rice). Every day, she used to prepare 10 kgs of muri and for that she used to receive 2 kgs of rice as payment. Airon, who got married at her early age, had to face bitter experience in her life. She used to sell those 2 kgs of rice to buy her daily necessaries. 

 Airon’s life was passing through in miseries until she heard a man announcing that the project of Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) would hire women to work. 

Her life changed drastically after she became a SWAPNO beneficiary. She began to earn and by participating in informal savings group, Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs), she also became able to sare move than Taka 12,000.  

The beneficiary women can start new busines sewing or making fans after having the training.  Airon thus invested her savings into starting her own hand fan making business which are creatively designed, sustainable, beautiful and environment-friendly as well.  The report is contributed by AKM Kamal Uddin Chowdhury.