Save the Children's "Girls' Voices" project started in Southern Bangladesh in 2006 with the aim of encouraging young women to take control of their lives and their futures. It has touched 42,000 lives since then—including those of Shilpi and her family.
In Bangladesh, families prefer sons over daughters. Sons work to take care of the family. They are an asset. Girls are discouraged from working outside the home. They are a burden. What happens when you give a girl a voice?
This is Shilpi's story. Tiler Char, Barishal, Bangladesh.
Shilpi's father died when she was very young. Her mother worked as a maid to support Shilpi and two younger sons. She earned only enough to feed them one meal a day. When Save the Children started the Girls' Voices project nearby, Shilpi joined. She met with other teenage girls to build self-confidence and learn new skills, like making a budget and saving money.
Shilpi realized she could help support her family, even without working outside the home. She started her first business weaving mats.
Later, I thought about how I could use the money I earn from weaving mats to do more. So I bought a small cow. After a year it gave birth. At that time we got 2 to 2.5 liters of milk from the cow every day. I sold that milk and used the money for my family. Later, when I had earned more money from weaving mats, I saved it. Our house was very small. It was awful to live there during the rainy season. So I decided we should build a new house. I sold the calf and used the money from my savings to build this house. If I had not joined "Girls' Voices" I would have been married by now, like all the other girls. Then I would not have been able to build such a big house or buy a cow. Now my plan is to buy a piece of land since we do not have any. The other plan I have is for my brother. Because he is handicapped, I am supporting his studies. That way he can get a job and earn his own living. My mother used to think if I had been a son instead of a daughter our life would have been much easier. But now she thinks "my daughter has done more for our family than a son would ever do."
From 2006-2010 the Kishoree Kontha [Girls' Voices] project touched the lives of more than 42,000 girls in Southern Bangladesh, and changed them forever.
"The girls who participated in Girls' Voices have a confidence that you don't see in other girls. They have learned how to set personal and financial goals for the future and they have the skills to achieve them. They are an example to the rest of the girls in the community." -- Sazia Afrin Rina, Field Trainer.
Add your voice. Save the Children. www.savethechildren.org