As a young girl Shabnam Parveen dreamt of becoming a teacher one day. Today she may not be standing in front of a class with children, but as a trainer at Women on Wings’ business partner Jute Artisans, she is sharing her knowledge and skills with other women artisans which makes her extremely happy and proud. Shabnam was eager to share her story with the Women on Wings team which visited Jute Artisans to evaluate its future strategy.
At the age of 26 Shabnam got married. It was an arranged marriage and she had never spoken to her husband before the marriage. Being raised in a large family with irregular income, Shabnam went to school till she was fourteen and then dropped out. Said Shabnam to the Women on Wings team: “I started working to contribute to the family income, which made me really proud. Initially I worked at an organization which did not pay me very well, but ten years ago I came to know about Jute Artisans and started working for them.” Shabnam’s father, knowing how much she enjoyed working at Jute Artisans, made sure that her husband and her in-laws agreed to letting her continue to work after marriage.
Running the house
Married life was very different from living with her parents and siblings. There were more responsibilities, not only doing household chores, but also the fact that her income was the main source of income. Shabnam’s husband does not earn a regular income, and there is also a mother-in-law to look after to. Shabnam continued: “My income enables me to run my household and provide for my mother-in-law and husband’s requirements. I have full control on my earnings. Not only that, whatever little bit my husband earns, he gives it to me.” Her family absolutely values Shabnam’s efforts and talent. “They feel proud, and they support me as they can clearly see who runs the house. I feel like the man of the family,” adds Shabnam smiling proudly.
Shabnam now is 32 years of age. She has not yet been able to conceive children but that does not make her unhappy. She is extremely happy in her current job which even helps her to contribute to the village’s advancement. As trainer, she goes to nearby villages to train more women on behalf of Jute Artisans. This certainly added to become more independent, empowered, and secure. Shabnam: “Now I feel that even if the worst happens to me, and I am made to start my life from scratch, I can easily do it. I love making other people happy, and when I train other women I am convinced they too will have a happier life ones they start earning an income.” The Women om Wings team leaves Jute Artisans but not before Shabnam shares a dream that she has for her and her husband’s future: “I want to own a shop and become entrepreneur. This way my husband would have a permanent source of earning with ownership and control. That will make him happy too.”