Sufia Khatun – Bangladesh

Linked with our presentation of Mohammad Yunus – Bangladesh.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Sufia Khatun – Bangladesh

Sufia Khatun says to Kafil Ahmed, an Oxfam project officer in Bangladesh: “My husband is a labourer, and travels around to find work. My children go to the MMS school. MMS gave me a loan, and I bought two cows. I sell the milk they produce to support my family.”

Sufia could see that, when she spoke alone about her concerns, she spoke to deaf ears. Collective action, however, provoked the local adminstration to examine and revise entrenched practices. She works with the Landless Organization of Atabarpur, and with the Regional Committee of the Landless.

As a silent victim of domestic violence until 1984, Sufia Khatun’s life changed dramatically after she met with activists from the NGO Nijera Kori (which means doing it ourselves) who told her about human rights and the need for collective action to assert those rights. Mobilizing women, she set up a women’s group first in her own, then in neighboring villages, where organizations of landless people formed a regional committee. Her mobilization has led to a reduction in domestic violence in the area, and the weakening of fundamentalist forces.

Sufia Khatun, mother of three grown children, said she had to pass tough days both in parent and husband’s house.

“I was illiterate even to give a signature. I learnt it to get loan from Grameen Bank. When I get loan from the bank many of the villagers resisted me saying none will attend my funeral. But I was rigorous to my decision, as I have to earn something to live,” she said.

She further said with the Tk 3500 from Grameen Bank she firstly operated a small shop of betel nut and later bought an ox with the profit and new loan. Later she borrowed money to built home, sanitary latrine, tube well with paying the weekly instalments regularly. She also bought 7 decimal of land also besides leased some of that.

“With the help of the money of Grameen Bank I am now leading a happy life with my family members. All of my children are now studying in different level of school and colleges,” she said expressing her gratitude to the Grameen Bank authority. (Read more on NewNation).

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