Written by: Centre for Mass Education in Science (CMES)
“When I started skills training on mobile phone servicing, my parents, relatives, and neighbours criticized me. [They said] how can a village girl have a mobile phone shop and work? But I overcame those obstacles and successfully finished my training,” says Shathi.
Shathi Akter, 19, from Rajshahi, Bangladesh is the youngest of three daughters. Her father is a farmer and her mother rears ducks and chickens in their house.
Shathi learnt about the Adolescent Girls’ Programme (AGP) run by the Centre for Mass Education in Science (CMES) which aims to empower girls and young women through gender sessions and support services. Shathi started to regularly attend the gender sessions and also decided to consult the gender teacher about skills training. She chose to train on mobile phone servicing and undertook a four-week course.
At first, Shathi repaired the mobile phones of her family and friends. Later on, her reputation regarding her ability became known in her own community which empowered her to start her own business on mobile phone servicing.
She took out a small loan of 5,000 Taka from the AGP programme and started her business in her own house. Shathi’s monthly income now comes to 8,000 – 10,000 Taka per month. She would now like to expand her business and secure a place in the local market. She is also interested in further training and she’s currently learning about hardware and software.
“For social empowerment, women and girls needs economic empowerment and through skills training, it becomes easier,” says Shathi. She is now an advocate for women and girls’ social rights. For the 2013-2015 term and again for the 2015-2017 term, she was elected as an Assistant Secretary of the Regional Federation that promotes women’s rights.
The Centre for Mass Education in Science (CMES) is a national non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Bangladesh working to take science and technology to the people through appropriate mass education and skills training. CMES has been working for the poor disadvantaged adolescents and youth since 1978 with a vision to empower them economically and socially through education and skills development.
Partnered with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), CMES works to raise awareness about the benefits of girls’ education and the negative consequences of child, early and forced marriage on development and provide life skills and market-relevant skills training through open and distance learning (ODL).