Nasrin takes medical support to the people
By breaking through cultural barriers, Nasrin is bringing health advice to where it’s needed, and opening doors for other women to follow suit.
Nasrin Akter lives in a village in northern Bangladesh, where there were no expectations that she would do anything other than get married and raise a family. But Nasrin knew she could do more, and through contact with the Empower Youth for Work (EYW) program she could see a way forward.
Nasrin (23) is clearly a bright young woman with lots of potential. She completed her Higher Secondary Certificate but then had to drop out of education because of economic problems. Nasrin always wanted to do something for herself and her family, but couldn’t decide what. Her family wouldn’t allow her to work outside the home, her parents didn’t have any money to get her started, and they also thought that doing something for a daughter is a waste of money; Nasrin’s options were limited. But things changed when the EYW program organized soft skill training for local youths and Nasrin took part.
A door opens
Through the EYW training, Nasrin realised what she wanted to do with her life; she would start a business selling nutrition and health advice and products in the community – a Nutrition Sell Service. So Nasrin took part in EYW’s five-day entrepreneurship training and began to learn the skills she’d need for her chosen trade. She spent time with a local doctor and learned to check glucose levels and blood pressure, to provide first aid, and to use basic medicines.
Bringing health to all
Now Nasrin confidently does her work. She has a bicycle to get around all the homes in her community and sells products such as oral saline, sanitary napkins, condoms, birth control pills, and medicine for fever, cold and gastric problems. She also provides health-related information to youths and other community members during family discussions, and promotes soft skill training. Nasrin now earns enough to be financially independent.
Strength from peers
This turn around in her circumstances hasn’t been easy. Nasrin faced significant challenges when she started this service, because people were not ready to accept that a girl could run a business independently, let alone ride a bicycle or sell these types of products. Some people castigated her parents for allowing their daughter to break with tradition even though she was helping the community. Nasrin drew on the support of other youth group members and Union Apex Body to have courage and overcome such difficulties. She knew that her parents must be convinced about the worth of her activities so she kept them informed throughout, and they have become important advocates of her work.
Nasrin wants to develop her business – a trade licence will enable her to open a chemist shop, and with a professional healthcare diploma she can provide even better care to her clients. Nasrin takes her responsibility very seriously and feels proud that people come to her for medicine. She is especially happy that women feel confident to buy sanitary napkins and birth control pills from her because they are too shy to go to the local market; most have to use unhygienic products when menstruating, instead.
Trailblazing for women
Nasrin’s hard work has inspired some other girls to do something beside their main domestic responsibilities. She has become popular in her community for her services, for breaking social norms, and for fighting against traditional thinking. “I am owed to EYW program for changing my life,” she explains. “Work is never defined for men and women, it is us who creates this differentiation. There are lots of people in rural areas who are not getting enough medical support, I want to do something more for their advancement by engaging the youth of our community.”
Nasrin‘s story is part of the multiyear campaign, kicked off on International Youth Day 2019 by the Empower Youth for Work program and the Work in Progress! alliance. The campaign aims to support the national influencing work of the respective programs by joining forces with local role models. The ripples of #Iwasthere are spreading out around the world and these stories are proof that change can happen anywhere – we hope they will inspire you, too, to become an active citizen.
Why these stories?
There are more young people today than ever before in the history of the world; 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 worldwide, and 90% of them live in low-income countries. . Harnessing the energy and strength of young women and men to become active citizens is core to Oxfam's goal of transformational change.
With their energy, skills and creativity, young people have the potential to be the driving force for social change, strong economies and vibrant democracies.
Oxfam is working jointly with youth to challenge barriers that prevent them from
Enjoying their rights
Participating fully in society
Being an effective voice in decision-making processes
How youthful dreams become reality.
These stories are proof that change can happen anywhere -
to inspire you to become an active citizen.
- The Netherlands
“Development is more than just economy or infrastructure, it’s all about humans.”
“As activists, we have to be patient. Without patience we can’t do anything, we just struggle.”
Jesse van Schaik
“I hope other people think ‘if she can do it, then I can do it, and then it won’t be that hard.’”
“Youths must work every day to be the change they want to see.”
“The only thing that I cannot do, is child bearing and breast feeding. This is not naturally gifted to men!”
“My goal was to capture the essence of the vital advocacy work that goes on within powerful institutions. But in a light and approachable way.”
“We are young, we are prepared. We have many things to do.”
“The biggest challenge wasn’t informing them about modern farming techniques but persuading them to abandon outdated methods”
“Work is never defined for men and women, it is us who creates this differentiation. There are lots of people in rural areas who are not getting enough medical support, I want to do something more for their advancement by engaging the youth of our community.”
“Fear is not part of my life. I conquer the fear itself.”
“I did not have any computer knowledge prior to this time; I only used computers for watching movies!”
“We should create an environment where people can support one another and raise local funds together to buy clothes and food for poor children and mothers.”
“Work ethics and character are equally important as you cannot earn a living out of talent alone.”
“I believe young women have the capacity to change their lives if they are provided with a safe environment and support from their family, community, and government.”
“Once we overcame our initial hurdles, we felt confident about managing more events, and soon established a good reputation in the city.”
“Even if a person supports you and teaches you how to do a thing, without passion on your part, it’s a ‘NO’!”
“Without a book on my lap every day, I don’t know where I would have reached today. One day I will realize my dream of bringing all Sahil people into the library.”
Habiba believes that other women and girls will be inspired by seeing her at work.
“Seeing my success, many people are now convinced it’s OK to assist women.”
“We aim, one day, to scale up our start-up to a national level”
He started working from home to save money, providing computer support to the community, especially women.
“The beauty parlour industry is exploitative, and because women workers lack awareness about their rights, they pose little to no resistance to unfair work policies.”
“Poetry is art and expression, and has been in my blood since my childhood. If you want people to develop their country, young people are the starting point – they have the drive and stamina to pioneer changes”
To ensure the continued success of her business, she keeps up with the latest fashion trends online, adjusting them for the cultural and religious tastes of her clients.