Women play a central role in agriculture. Rural women throughout Bangladesh make critical contributions to household production and consequently to household and national food security. The specific nature of their contribution vary, for instance women’s participation in economic activities differ considerably according to the type of activity and the place of residence. Traditionally women have played an important role in a wide range of income-generating activities. These rural production activities include post-harvesting, cow fattening and milking, goat farming, backyard poultry rearing, pisciculture, horticulture, food processing, cane and bamboo works, and handicrafts. Yet the reality has been that ‘markets’ are not women sensitive nor friendly. Women struggled to be in market spaces as a producer trying to sell their product, or as a buyer to make choices in person.
ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB) took up initiatives in different parts of the country with the intent of changing the market system and practices so as make the market system women-friendly. This called for long-term projects and investment. One such project entitled: Making Market Work for Women (MMWW), in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh, aimed to support women Agri -entrepreneurs to evolve into a competitive and successful entrepreneur by participating in the market. MMWW project facilitated the creation of a women-friendly market environment; developing linkages with market actors and relevant stakeholders towards promoting and increasing access for women entrepreneurs in existing rural markets. The project also established linkages with online market platform for women entrepreneurs, so as to promote their engagement in e-commerce. In the present reality of the COVID-19 pandemic online marketing played a great role to sustain the enterprise of women entrepreneurs. They were able to trade their produce and flourish their business in 2020.
AAB took an initiative to publish a Photobook to showcase the success stories of women entrepreneurs through the photobook ‘Market Transformation for Women’. It is a testimony of women’s contribution in transformation of society, and the significant contribution to their community, as well as national economy. I believe that Agri-entrepreneurship particularly by rural women is an important growing sector in the economy of Bangladesh. Therefore, it calls for recognition and investment to stimulate growth and further development.