This story is adapted from reports by World Vision Bangladesh.

In the Khulna and Shatkhira districts in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh, only 20 percent of women report having paid employment with an average daily wage of TK 100 (about $1.25 USD). While men’s wages are also low, they are still twice as high as women’s.

In response to this challenge — and as part of an effort to create more and better livelihoods and propel local communities into higher productivity and economic growth — USAID and World Vision Bangladesh are working together to train 18,000 individuals, at least 65 percent of which will be women, in skills required for sustainable employment.

This training is part of a World Vision program called Nobo Jatra, or new beginning. Over the last few months, 7,699 women have gotten training in skills like paper box making, mat making/marketing, pickle making, and hand embroidery. The Nobo Jatra program engages expert trainers from the Department of Youth with the government of Bangladesh to conduct the trainings to make sure that they’re tailored to the women receiving them.

Recently, Shahida, 32, was concerned when her husband, a fish retailer, fell seriously ill. She has two small children to feed, and needed an immediate way to do so. Fortunately, she was able to enroll in one of the trainings on hand embroidery with Nobo Jatra.

Along with 25 other women in her community, Shahida successfully completed the four-day training and was given materials to start making bags. Nobo Jatra also invited local entrepreneurs to observe the training so they could begin placing orders for the bags, thus ensuring a steady stream of income for the women who completed the training. What’s more, Shahida was so talented at the embroidery that she was selected to be a new trainer and receives additional income for each training session she conducts with others in her community!

“I now sell products worth TK 1,500 per month,” says Shahida. “This is in addition to my role as a trainer. Even six months ago, I didn’t have this opportunity. Today, I have the confidence to stand in front of a group of women and teach them a skill that will help change their lives and the lives of their children.”

What’s next for Shahida? She plans to open a shop of her own where other women can showcase the products that they make.

“I will become the entrepreneur,” she says. “That is my next ambition — to create a safe space for women in my community to showcase and sell their products.”

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You can use your voice to empower female entrepreneurs around the world. Use the form below to ask your elected official to support the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act, a bill that would make it U.S. policy to reduce gender disparities related to economic participation and opportunity, work towards eliminating gender-based violence, support women’s property rights, and improve the ability of women and girls to shape their futures!

Photo: Women at a Nobo Jatra training in Bangladesh. (Photo credit: World Vision Bangladesh)

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