Expanding opportunities for women in South Asia: Sakina's story

Sakina Begum is a dairy producer and the President of the Taluk Shahabaj producer group, in Kaunia Rangpur, Bangladesh.
Sakina Begum is a dairy producer and the President of the Taluk Shahabaj producer group, in Kaunia Rangpur, Bangladesh.

Women across Asia are left to shoulder the burden of unpaid care work with little or no support. In Bangladesh, women spend on average 3.6 hours a day doing unpaid care and domestic work, compared to 1.4 hours for men. Oxfam is  helping to equalize the workload for men and women. We work to empower women to make meaningful decisions concerning themselves, their families, their community and their country, through the realization of their rights and the control of their own resources.

Read Sakina's story:

Sakina Begum is taking a well-earned rest and thinking about how her life has changed in the last six months. "It was like a war for me every morning. I had to prepare food, clean, collect fodder and water, bath, feed and dress the children for school, as well as taking care of my husband. I did all the work without taking a break from 5 am until 10 am. Only then could I take a few minutes rest."  

Sakina Begum is a dairy producer and the President of the Taluk Shahabaj producer group, in Kaunia Rangpur, Bangladesh. She likes to working in the dairy and seeing her cows grow but its hard work.  She is also the prime care-giver for her family. Six months ago she was doing household chores for 8.5 hours a day and then working in her dairy for a further 4.5 hours without any support from family members.

In November, 2015, Sakina and her husband attended training and learning sessions about unpaid care work. It was eye opening for them.  They realised that from an early age women are expected to do all the household chores as well as support male family members with agriculture and farming. They did not believe that women could participate in economic activities like men, or that men could help women with the cooking. Women might seek support from their daughter, mother-in-law or sister-in-law but they never asked their son or husband to help around the house.

Sakina said, "After the training I discussed sharing the household work with my husband. He started supporting me with the cooking, preparing tea or snacks for me, cleaning the children when I am milking the cow, or collecting fuel while I am busy with cooking.  Our children enjoy having their father dress them. I told them that, from now on their father will do most of the care work for them, and they clapped with joy."  

This changing scenario has gradually given Sakina the opportunity to take control over her own time. She is expanding her business knowledge and networks by attending meetings and training while her husband and in – laws taking care of their children and helping with the housework.