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Third gender entrepreneurs showcase their products at trade fair

  • Published at 10:35 pm February 5th, 2019
Transgender entrepreneur
Md Abdul Hai, secretary of Siri Somaj Kollan Songstha, a third gender welfare committee, displays a dress made by third gender entrepreneurs at the Dhaka International Trade Fair 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Customers are also warming up to third gender entrepreneurs, visiting stalls and purchasing products from them

For the second year, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation is providing a platform for third gender entrepreneurs to showcase their products at the ongoing Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF) 2019.

At the foundation’s pavilion, the Dhaka Tribune spoke to an entrepreneur, Joyeeta

Arifa Yasmin Murari, whose gender identity on her national identification (NID) card states her as “hijra”.

Joyeeta has set up a stall on behalf of her organization, “Siri Samaj Kallyan Sangstha”.

There, a wide array of block-printed items, hand stitched dresses, handicrafts, and other products such as nakshi kantha (embroidered quilts), bed covers and cushion covers are on sale. The items are priced between Tk200 and Tk4,000, depending on their quality. 

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Joyeeta said customers are appreciating the work they are putting in.

“More than 80 hijras work in my organization,” she said. “I established it in Jamalpur Sadar upazila’s Gobindabari area in 2007.”

After years of trying to gain credibility, the organization, also known as “Siri Handicrafts”, came to the attention of SME Foundation in 2016 and it has been patronizing them since, Joyeeta remarked.

The foundation has provided them with training and other logistical support, as well as a national platform to showcase their products, like the stall at the trade fair.

Md Abdul Hai, secretary of Siri Handicrafts, said: “We want to develop further, but people's lack of interest still remains a problem. That is decreasing slowly, as many have encouraged and inspired us to continue with our work.”

Customers are also warming up to third gender entrepreneurs, visiting stalls and purchasing products from them as per their requirement.

Nusrat Khondokar, a homemaker, said: “We are happy to see their participation at the fair. Obviously, we should encourage them by buying from them. By doing so, we will acknowledge that they are part of our society.”