I have a memory from our travels through Bangladesh that haunts and shames me.
The shower in the house where we were staying was a camping bucket on a rope and I had been complaining about it all morning, wanting to wash my hair. I could not wash my hair in so little water.
A woman came to the door, she looked like a child of the dust. Lost and wearing a torn sari. The doctor came, and after talking to her he told me that she thought she was around 40 years old but didn't really know. She had been pregnant or breastfeeding all her married life and reported only having had only two periods. She only had two live children. She had a tubercular abscess in her knee. I looked around to see who had brought her to the house but there was no one. She had walked by herself on that painful swollen knee to get help. My angry sense of entitlement vanished and I realised that I had everything that was needed and this woman had absolutely nothing.
There is a saying in Bangladesh; "Girl's are made for marriage" This five-word saying has vast implications for young girls in rural Bangladesh, because why waste precious income to educate your daughter if she is only going to marry, clean, fetch water and produce children?
Troy Anderson, CEO of 'Speak Up' reports going to a rural Bengali village to talk to girls about the educational opportunities his organisation could offer, and asking the girls "What is your dream?" The girls looked blankly at him. Girls in Bangladesh are not allowed to dream, their life is decided for them.
The World Bank states keeping girls in the classroom for as long as possible is crucial in the fight to eradicate global poverty
Gender should not determine access to education, but it does.
In so many nations where there is poverty, conflict and poor governance, girls are not given opportunities to go to school. In our world, over 130 million girls are not in school. Giving girls quality high school education has been shown to double their life income. Girls with high school and university education have been proven to marry later, avoiding the awful health risks and maternal mortality that comes with early childbearing for women. Girls who have opportunities to go to school, high school and university have children later and have fewer children. This alone impacts our problematic increase in world population more than any other factor.
Again I am taught the real meaning of the word "difficult" :
“Girls are central to the global poverty story,” said Dana Rice, managing director of philanthropy for Opportunity International. But change will be held back until there is a shift in cultural ideas of what a girl is. “It’s about how girls value themselves, the voice that they have to articulate what they think, and communities really valuing them as contributors to their own development.”
Fair Trade works with women in communities that experience social and economic challenges in order to give women back their hope and their self-confidence.
We have a new range of jewellery from The Starfish Project in store. Starfish works with women who have had the awful experience of being bought and sold. When I speak to the women of Starfish I feel their confidence and sense of self. They are not people to be pitied, but women who have a new sense of hope and independence. Starfish works with women and has a strong emphasis on counselling and education.
The women of Starfish have come from a place of being an item, a possession, to being someone who can study and achieve.
The jewellery is beautiful Sterling Silver or 18K plated Gold or Rose Gold. When you purchase Starfish Jewellery you are giving a woman, just like you, hope and a new experience of self-respect.
What an amazing gift.
1. "Educating girls: the key to tackling global poverty", The Guardian, Australia. 2017.
2. Missed Opportunities: The High Cost of not Educating Girls." The World Bank, 2018.
4. Why does Troy Anderson live in Bangladesh? - Podcast