Monisha Akhtar got married when she was only 15 years old. Though she knew that child marriage is a violation of girl’s rights but she was compelled to do so as her father was unable to continue her education cost from his little earning.
Monisha however did not give up her hope to learn some skills with which she could earn her living. With that in mind, she got a light of hope and empowerment in the form of ‘Mobile Servicing’ training.
By receiving mobile servicing training Monisha challenged the collective gender norms and customs. She wanted to set up a small business in the local market and continue her rest of study. Now Monisha is confident enough to achieve her goal in a little while.
Like Monisha, many married and unmarried adolescents are now becoming IT entrepreneurs and mobile repair and telecom retailers. Robi, the leading digital services provider of the country, has taken this woman empowerment program in association with CARE Bangladesh, a renowned International NGO.
With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CARE Bangladesh’s project named ‘IMAGINE: Inspiring Married Adolescent Girls to Imagine New Empowered Futures’ has taken a holistic approach to build married girls’ capacity and agency to make decisions about their life courses, to address social and structural barriers that prevent delaying, and to present alternative economic opportunities for girls so that early motherhood is not their only option.
Although IMAGINE more focused to married adolescents but also supports to unmarried girls for their future empowerment. Anarkoli Akter, a 17 years girl of Utter Nowabos village, Belgacha union of Kurigram now a potential participant of ‘IT-skill development’ training prior facing a lots of challenges at home. She is a member of Girls Collective Club of the project. She said that the training full-fledged her confidence attain a reputable job after completing her education while computer skill will complement additional values as well. Initially her elder brother and parents were entirely against her participation in training even they were insisting her marriage. But today they are inspiring her to be a government officer as an example of family. A three-months IT-skill training not only ensure her pathway it has changed traditional fallacy of family. Anarkoli believes in her self-reliant that might be encourage other adolescent girls of her community. She will achieve her dream of empowerment.
Meghna Akhtar (16) who got married and dropped out from school when she was in only class nine. Despite a housewife Meghna is a dynamic member of the project’s Char Noabash Girls’ Collective Club of Punchgachi union of Kurigram. In aspiration workshop she exposed interest to be a Mobile Retailer while once her husband had a mobile servicing shop. She wants to start it again as mobile repairing and retailing trade is promising in her locality seeing profit is high. Meghna selected for month long residential training on ‘mobile servicing’ but it becomes a terrible challenge for her to attend as the married girls face bunch of restrictions to stay outside of home. Yet Meghna’s in-laws permitted her to attend in Girls’ Collective sessions, opposed to attend in the training seriously. But her husband came with great hands and commits to meghna, after training, they will be together for starting mobile repairing business that will lead her to regain dignity and protect rights. She believes nothing is impossible, everything that is great in the world. Meghna now wants to represent as change maker of women empowerment in her community.
Apart from Monisha, Anarkoli, Meghna there are, Kona, Mousumi, Habiba, Khadiza, Mozida, Hosneara, Ayesha, Sumi, Parul, Santona, Asmani and so on who are also participating in ‘Mobile Servicing’ and ‘IT-skill development’ training are providing by GoB Technical Training Center (TTC) of Kurigram and Women in Digital (WiD) respectively. In this way, women are getting empowered with soft skills which bring happiness in their family and society.