The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC, educates women about their rights and empowers them to take control of their destinies. See what happens when a group of women come together to seek equality.
We Are Powerful: Stories of Social & Legal Empowerment
In my heart, there is a lot of courage. I think courage in the heart is the most important kind of courage for every person.
This is the story of how women in the villages of Bangladesh are realizing their potential as change agents and are transforming their lives, communities, families, and society.
MUSSAMAT RUPA BEGUM
My name is Mussamat Rupa Begum. When I was 13, I got married. One year and nine months later, my husband died. My son was only one month old when his father died.
After getting married, my husband took me from my home and tortured me in his home. I wish that no one else will be as helpless as I am. I wish that no one else will have acid thrown on them. I wish that no one else will be tortured as I have been.
I was tortured by my husband because of dowry. My husband sent me back to my parents' house and told me that he would not accept me unless my father gave him the dowry.
MUSSAMAT RUPA BEGUM
Because of the dowry system, lots of women are victimized by their families. There are many suicides. Some of them hang themselves. Women have lagged behind, but in the eye of the law, both men and women are equal.
If I had not gotten support from BRAC, I would have killed myself. BRAC said to me, "Please do not kill yourself. We will support you. You will work with us. We will help you to support yourself and your daughter. We will help you." BRAC has now filed a case against my husband.
BRAC works in the areas of Gender Justice and Diversity; Human Rights and Legal Services; Agriculture and Food Security; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Microfinance; Public Health; and Social Enterprises. BRAC works to enhance the social and human capital of poor and marginalized people, so they are aware of their rights, empowered to claim entitlements, and able to resist exploitation.
MUSSAMAT RUPA BEGUM
BRAC staff trained me to be a Human Rights and Legal Aid Services Shebika (barefoot lawyer). I feel so happy that I am teaching the Human Rights and Legal Education class. Before, I was not aware of the laws. Now I teach these laws to a lot of people. In every class I teach, there are 25 members present. If I teach four classes per year, many people will learn about the law. Previously, most of the people in my community did not respect me. But now, when anyone sees me, they greet me with Salaam and they ask me how I am doing.
Previously, the people in my village would make fun of my husband for listening to me. But after taking the BRAC Gender Justice Training, everyone has become more informed, and now they see it as a good thing. Everyone is changing their ideas.
God gives us hands, legs, eyes, mouths and also food. Why should we (women) be financially disadvantaged compared to men? Through BRAC's Gender Quality Action Learning program people have become aware of their rights. In the future, people will become even more aware of their rights. I have become aware of my rights, and my daughter, hers. Her daughter will be aware of her rights. And so will the next generation.
BRAC has created 9,324 Polli Shomaj groups across Bangladesh. These are spaces for women to gain strength from collective processes and address the problems of their communities.
Through the polli shomaj meeting, we have learned which practices are legal and illegal. So now we can protest, defend and promote legal practices. Before, we had no confidence, but now we have courage.
I have the mentality that I want to do many things for my community.
If anyone tries to achieve something on their own, people will not value what they are doing. Our power increases if a group of members work together.
My name is Lovely and I am a member of Polli Shomaj.
My name is Hasina Begum, and I am a member of Polli Shomaj.
My name is Sahera and I am a member of Polli Shomaj.
We are happy to be a part of the Polli Shomaj because it is the Poor People's Freedom Club. If all poor people combine their efforts together, we can stop all unjust practices in our society.