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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. 

Limited horizons 

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. 

Where next? 

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 explainsWork 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