Starting married life by moving in with your in-laws may sound like a nightmare to Americans, but this is a fact of life for many brides in Bangladesh. As the newest additions to their families, these women, many of whom are teenagers and young adults, have very little sway in making decisions about their health, nutrition, and reproductive lives. It’s the fathers and mothers-in-law who influence household practices and have the majority of the decision-making power.
Sultana was a young wife and mother whom we met through our food security program in Bangladesh. Through the program, she received three goats, learned how to raise them, and learned about growing nutritious vegetables in her home garden. She later became more involved with PCI and her family’s/community’s health by joining our Care Group Trios, which became important when her son fell ill.
Traditional Care Groups are led by mother leaders who help improve health and nutrition in their communities by visiting and counseling local families. We developed the Care Group Trio model that added father and grandmother Care Groups to provide a more supportive and holistic approach to improving the health of their families. These groups encourage women and girls to have a voice in taking care of themselves and their children.
The concept is simple. Take a young mother who wants what’s best for her family but may not feel empowered to make that happen; a father trying to provide for his family and make smart financial decisions; and a grandmother who wants the newest generation to be happy and healthy, and make them a united team. Bringing these groups together helps them to understand different gender and age perspectives and to come to mutual decision-making that is in the best interest of all family members.
As a part of the Care Groups, Sultana enjoyed learning about health, nutrition, and hygiene. She then became a Mother Leader, and her family members were so supportive that her husband and mother-in-law became a Father Leader and Grandmother Leader as well. The three now work together to help their community and have grown stronger as a team. Sultana’s mother-in-law has since become very involved in the Care Group program and works closely with the other grandmother leaders and beneficiaries. She also helped Sultana during her pregnancy, and the two became very close.
Sultana’s new skills and leadership were tested when her son grew ill. Sultana, her husband, and her mother-in-law decided it was important to take the boy to the hospital. Fortunately, he got better thanks to his caregivers working together to make the best decisions for his health.
Investing in educating women touches the lives of their families and communities. Thanks to Sultana’s participation in our programs, she’s now better able to be a force for positive change in her community. Help us continue to empower women by making a donation today.