She is curious, vocal, articulate and a multitasker. 35-year-old Suporna Tripura lives in the village of Thakurchara in Khagrachari, Bangladesh. A woman of Bengali descent, Suporna married Sumon, who is from the Tripura community. It was a bold decision for the couple, as intercommunity marriages are unusual in the area.
Sumon is an auto driver by profession. Though he works hard, his income is not enough to keep the family afloat. To support the family, therefore, Suporna stitches clothes and makes locally worn jewellery such as earrings, necklaces and Kumor bicha (an ornament worn around the waist). “My eldest son is doing a Diploma in Electronics from Dhaka Polytechnic Institute and the younger son studies in school. It is not easy for us to afford their education,” she said.
Her determination to overcome difficulties led her to staff members of Anando, one of Welthungerhilfe’s partners in the EU supported Empowering Women for Peace and Development in South Asia project. She attended a training programme organised by Anando for women entrepreneurs. “The training helped me grasp the nuances of business and sharpen my ability to market my products better. Thanks to the skills I learned under the training, I am now able to earn nearly 10,000 BDT (117 Euro) a month, which is almost twice the amount I earned earlier.”
Through interactions with project staff, she learned about various other capacity building sessions under the programme. Without a second thought, she decided to join the trainings and learned about peace, reconciliation, gender equality, family law of Bangladesh, property rights and human rights. “The trainings gave me the courage to speak about women’s rights and empowerment,” she said.
Growing increasingly confident, Suporna began to work for the women of her area and became a peace counsellor and a strong advocate for Tripura women’s rights.
Suporna counselling women in her village
She developed a good rapport with the Chairman of the Union Parishad (local council) as well as leaders of local women networks and started taking up cases related to women’s rights. “In 2015 I came across a Tripura woman, who told me how her husband had been mistreating her and threatening to divorce her. I discussed the matter with the Chairman of the Union Parishad as well as local women leaders, who mediated and realised that the woman was innocent,” Suporna said.
Suporna’s persistent efforts paid off and the Chairman of the Union Parishad gave the verdict in favour of the woman. “The Chairman ordered the man to stop all atrocities against the woman and pay adequate maintenance.”
Because of her readiness to respond and her steady resolve, Suporna has become quite popular in her area and she is very happy about that. “I used to be known as Sumon’s wife, but now Sumon is known as my husband,” she says with a chuckle.
The EU supported ‘Empowering Women for Peace and Development in South Asia’ project contributes towards promoting civil society and strengthening women-led peace building initiative in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, the North East India, and Myanmar. Helping women through support centres in Bangladesh