This 2 page brief highlights learning from the USAID-funded GRAD program that works to graduate families out of poverty.
Joytara Is a Rarity
Joytara Is a Rarity
Joytara is a rarity in Bangladesh: she is a female landowner having purchased the land in her own name.
But things didn’t always look up for Joytara. The 35-year-old mother of two faced desperation when her husband became paralyzed and her work as a maid was not enough to sustain her family and keep her children in school.
A CARE Bangladesh community facilitator discovered Joytara’s situation in 2007 and invited her to become an “aparajita” for CARE’s Rural Sales Program, now called JITA*. Aparajita means “women who will not accept defeat.”
Akin to “Avon ladies,” the program’s aparajitas travel from home to home selling products from private sector partners, such as Unilever, Danone, Bata and Grameen that range from shampoos, soaps and sanitary towels to mobile phones and shoes.
Joytara shares her story:
I used to work as a maid servant, earning 500 taka a month [approximately $6.50]. When my husband became paralyzed I had no other option but to take up this work and earn better money.
The main problem at first was social acceptance. People didn’t think a woman should do this sort of work and they thought I was selling fake products – but now I have become accepted in the community.
People used to shun us, they might give us food but they wouldn’t lend us any money if we needed it. Now I lend money to others who are needier, and I even advise people in the community.
Women who stay in the house with no options should work like me and make themselves independent!
Now I earn 2,000-plus taka a month [almost $26.00]. I can decide how to spend money. I have two daughters, Shuma, aged 8 and Shumi, aged 12. I can keep both my daughters in school.
And my husband has more respect for me. I have become the main decision maker in our household.
Normally, it is just men who own land, but recently, as a family, we bought land and it will be registered in my name. Our house used to be very small, on a small corner of land, it is now much bigger and I am very proud.
Sanitary towels are one of my most popular products. My female customers wouldn’t ever go to the market to buy these, but I have increased access to these sorts of products as the women can talk freely with me.
In the future I would like to start my own shop. It will take a few years to do this, but I will receive support from CARE as an incentive for continuing to work as an aparajita.
Our other goal is to get a good husband for our daughters, and they need to be educated for that. I was married at 14. I don’t want my daughter to get married at that age. It is her decision if she wants to work or not.
- Read about the “Avon Ladies” of Bangladesh
- See how women are taking a shopping network to the villages
- Find out more about CARE’s social enterprise work