Molina ignores social taboo
By Md. Sohrab Hossain from Patuakhali
She represents a woman from any walk of life, making a difference in her life and the lives of others through her work, ideas and strong will. The reason is, we think that women are still in many ways handicapped and have to go through many hurdles to find a sustainable place for themselves in the society. We want to make their voices heard.
"It was a challenge for me when I started my tailoring shop”, said Molina Rani Pal.
“I needed to do something to supplement my family income to ensure education for my son. Many in the area opposed this.”
The neighbours thought it was an absurd idea for a woman to set up and run her own business, and more so when she had a husband. Many of the relations were displeased feeling that Molina was being too ambitious, that she was giving priority to money and her own independence over her duties as a wife and a mother.
But nothing could stop her. Molina, a village woman, now owns a well-decorated tailoring shop with bundles of fabrics stacked inside it at Boga Bazar in Baufal upazila.
She got the shop free. It stands in a cluster of shops constructed under DANIDA assisted 'Rural Development Project-16 (RDP-16) only for women.
Molina, who passed the Secondary School Certificate examination, earns Tk.4,000 to Tk.5,000 a month from her shop and adds it to the income by her school teacher husband, Shusil Kumar Pal, who has always supported her in her venture. They are a happy couple with one teenaged son, Sujan.
“I was inspired by an elderly man, Mr. Shahjahan, a supervisor of the DANIDA project. When I first met him at Boga Bazar, he advised me to set up a tailoring shop.”
“I could see a ray of hope in what he suggested. I knew that this would help me fulfill my dream of higher education for my son,” she told the writer during the latter's visit to her shop. 'I'm happy that I didn't give in to any obstacles to my venture, though at times I felt very disheartened.”
Like Molina Rani, Rani Begum, Aleya Begum, Purnima Rani, Shandha Rani, Rexona and Jinnatunnesa of the same village have become self-reliant by setting up shops at the Boga Bazar market.
Kabir Uddin Matbar, an assistant structure and market engineer of RDP 16, says that 33 rural markets with 17 trading sheds for women have been built in Patuakhali district. Facilities such as, electricity, attached bathrooms and tube wells for pure drinking water have been allotted to women entrepreneurs.
A committee headed by the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) has made the allotments where distressed and unemployed women have been given preference. The women have opened tailoring shops, tea-stalls, stationary shops, stores with photocopy and cell phone facilities etc. in the market.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006