“My wife always wanted to do some income generating activities but I never allowed her. I believed that after getting married a woman’s prime responsibility is to take care of the family - not go outside to earn money,” said Rashidul, a day labourer from Bangladesh. Rashidul was standing with his baby in his lap while his wife, Rojina Begum, a member of Torulota milk producer group, Dimla, Nilphamari, was attending a meeting.
In 2014, a team from Pollisree (Oxfam’s local partner) started a discussion on the importance of women’s economic leadership and the various ways of women could get involved in economic activities. Rojina attended several meetings and enlisted herself as a member in the community based organisation.
Rashidul said “I supported Rojina initially as she was just attending few meetings, but gradually she learnt about rearing cows and business management and wanted to get involved in the milk producer group. I was not comfortable with that because she would not have any spare time after doing all the household chores.”
An eye-opener meeting
Rojina said, “One day in the meeting, Pollisree discussed how doing household chores is the responsibility of all family members and how sharing the housework would help everyone engage in other productive work. I found an opportunity to make my dream true and asked my husband to take part in a two day workshop on care analysis”.
“After returning from the meeting, he told me that, I was right - taking care of family members and doing household chores is every one’s duty “
Now Rashidul tries his best to help Rojina with the household chores so that she can concentrate on her business. Every day he cleans, mops the house, brings water for cooking, and sometimes chops the vegetable.
Getting adapted to the new situation
They have been married for 9 years. Their early years of marriage were not as happy because Rojina had a huge amount of work to do while Rashidul sat idle after returning home from the work.
Rojina added that, “At that time, his sweet words seemed bitter to me! Most of my time was spent cooking. Now he understands and helps me with the cooking. As a result, I can attend meetings or training to enhance technical knowledge and I have more time to take care of the cows to increase the milk production”.
“My wife heard that a rice cooker and magic burner can cook food easily and these do not create smoke. We are thinking of buying these if these are not too expensive. She needs more time to do relax.” said Rashidul.
“Our love has increased for each other,” said Rojina