Today marks International Women’s Day, which highlights women’s issues and inspiring women across the globe. Here at Islamic Relief, we’re celebrating Sheuly, who lives in Bangladesh’s most poverty-stricken district.

Struggling to make ends meet

Sheuly was married at a very early age. After 7 years of marriage, her husband left her and remarried, leaving her to raise her 2 children alone in Kurigram, Bangladesh.

Sheuly was forced to live with her mother who already struggled to afford the costs of everyday life.

“I was completely shattered when my husband left me.  I was clueless about how to earn a living to support my family”, says Sheuly.

Determined to support her children

Without any income Sheuly struggled to feed her children, but was determined to create a better life for herself and her family.

She began by filing a court case to receive financial support from her ex-husband, which, despite resistance from his family, was successful.

She also began tutoring children in her neighbourhood and eventually secured a job working for a local charity. However, her position was temporary as the charity did not have the funding to keep her on.

Sheuly once again fell into poverty. Looking for help, she came across Islamic Relief’s project which is supporting women local to earn sustainable livelihoods.

Building a livelihood and self-reliance

Islamic Relief staff trained Sheuly in goat rearing and gave her a cash grant to help her buy 3 goats.  She now earns a living from selling the produce from her animals.

The project also brings women together in groups, where they can support each other and help save money. The group offers members a small, interest-free loan, which Sheuly used to purchase chickens and ducks. She sells their eggs, increasing her income still further.

Sheuly with her women’s group.

“Sheuly is a real example of woman’s empowerment. She is a great help to her group as she calculates our accounts”, says Nazmin, president of the women’s group, describing Sheuly’s contribution as treasurer.

Inspiring and supporting other women

Sheuly was then appointed as treasurer of a larger committee consisting of representatives of women’s groups in the area. Eventually, she worked up to becoming the Secretary of the National Cooperative Network, which facilitates leadership development for women’s cooperatives groups.

Sheuly now has a platform to advocate for social and human rights issues, particularly gender-based violence.

“With the support of Islamic Relief’s project, I have changed my fortune”, says Sheuly. “I started with 3 goats and now I have 6 goats. I plan to sell half of them to buy a cow.”

“If I had not received the awareness training from Islamic Relief, I would have not known about my rights and that I can be independent. My fellow group members have deep confidence in me and they always seek my guidance.

“The support has also elevated my place in the community as a respected and capable person. It has helped me to change my financial position and work for a better future.”

Empowering women througout the year

Females make up an astonishing 70% of the world’s poor people, but Sheuly is one of many escaping the poverty trap through our women’s empowerment projects. With Islamic Relief’s support women around the world are forging lasting livelihoods and financial self-reliance.

Islamic Relief is committed to making sure our work is increasingly gender sensitive. We’re doing this through initiatives such as ensuring women participate in designing our programmes and in community decision-making.

Support our vital women’s empowerment work, which enables vulnerable women to gain agency over their lives: please donate now.