After living overshadowed by shame and fear, our learning and savings groups are providing a safe and supportive environment for women to realise their value and potential. We invite the most vulnerable in the poorest villages and slums to form their own groups and save money together. These women then meet weekly to learn basic skills and practical, lifesaving knowledge to protect and provide for their children.
Working together, they are able to develop the means and confidence to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We currently have over 900 groups meeting across Bangladesh. With your support, we can offer more oppressed and overlooked women this life-changing opportunity.
Quick links: literacy and numeracy | vocational
skills | business development | group
savings fund | family health and nutrition | antenatal
care | raising self esteem |
supporting marriages | community leadership | legal awareness | preventing child marriages | disaster preparation
of the women we work with are illiterate and most families lead a hand to mouth
existence, barely surviving on their unstable daily income, so we encourage each
group member to save a small amount of money each week ( around 5p ) into their
own group savings fund. This fund provides essential security in times of need
and also enables members to invest in an income generating activity.
We teach group members to read, write and count and then provide training in vocational skills and business development. After around 15 months you will start to see small businesses springing up, as with confidence and dignity, women start to use their new found skills to provide for their family.
In Bangladesh infant, child and maternal mortality is high. Children are
malnourished and die from preventable causes and young mothers are at
great risk in child birth. We teach group members basic health, hygiene
and first aid practices, and enable them to recognise and prevent the
spread and symptoms of infection and common diseases.
Group members also learn about the importance of vaccinations, nutrition and the needs of expectant mothers and new born babies. These monthly health lessons provide simple, effective and life-saving knowledge to protect the most vulnerable.
In Bangladesh females are seen as so inferior that mothers often weep when they give birth to daughters. Bearing a son is one of the few ways that women can gain any status and security. Simply training oppressed and possibly abused women is not enough. This is why we help group members to restore their dignity and explore Biblical values, such as the belief that all relationships should be based on equality, love and respect - regardless of gender or social position. We walk alongside each woman’s family and wider community, challenging negative cultural perceptions of gender inequality and offering marriage support where needed.
Strong emphasis is given to developing group leaders, with the aim of helping groups to become self-sustaining. Each group elects leaders who receive special training in their area of responsibility. With mentoring and training these leaders teach and guide the rest of the group in key areas such as health, education and legal awareness. Group members can also be elected to serve in their local Community Organisation, representing up to 70 learning and savings groups. We are seeing many group participants leading transformation and serving the needs of their community.
Women are particularly vulnerable in the area of family law. Some men
take a second wife or divorce women simply for having daughters or being
infertile. Divorced women are often ostracised in their community and
even stopped from fetching water from their well. We teach women about
their legal rights and the rights of their children in areas of family
conflicts such as divorce, dowry and multiple marriages. With the
support of our staff, they are equipped to challenge injustice and
prevent themselves and their children from being exploited and
Our staff also educate communities about the illegality of child marriages. Girls are often married by the age of 12, yet the legal age is 18. We help group participants to understand the negative social and economic effects that child marriages can have. Young brides are at greater risk of health problems in childbirth and of receiving physical and emotional abuse from their spouse’s family. We encourage families to value their daughters and keep them in school.
Some of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history are
the tropical cyclones that hit the low-lying region now forming
Bangladesh. Among them, the 1970 cyclone, which claimed more than
500,000 lives, and the 1991 cyclone which claimed over 143,000 lives.
Natural disasters, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes and
tidal bores occur almost every year in Bangladesh. Severe cyclones now
occur about every 15 -20 years.
We are experienced in responding to emergency situations, and helping communities to recover from regular natural disasters. Our learning and savings groups help families to cope with natural disasters by giving them the capacity to prepare, and the opportunity to build up reserves. We help groups to establish emergency procedures and in some areas set up emergency savings funds. Group members are also able to develop skills that they can use to protect and provide for their family and community during and after a disaster.
E:firstname.lastname@example.org | T: 01494 674898 | Charity number 328273 | www.uk.fhi.net | 47 Burgess Wood Road South, Beaconsfield, Bucks, HP9 1EL