Swapna Rani, a woman from Kurigram district, was honoured with the “Ananya Shirsha Dosh” award in the category of self-sufficiency of rural women on Saturday.
Ten women, including Swapna, received the “Ananya Shirsha Dosh” award for their outstanding contribution to society at an event held at Bangla Academy. Ananya magazine has been honouring exceptional women with the award since 1993.
Burdened by poverty, married off at an early age and then abandoned by her husband- none of these hardships stopped the struggling Swapna from attaining financial independence. She is now inspiring numerous other women to follow her lead.
The event had Jahangirnagar University Vice-Chancellor Farzana Islam as chief guest while former foreign minister Dr Dipu Moni was present as president. Novelist Selina Hossain and Ananya magazines Editor-in-Chief Tasmima Hossain were present at the event among others.
Swapna is from Nageshwari upazila’s Bhitarband union. She was a victim of child marriage. Poverty was her constant companion throughout her life. Her husband Ratan Barman abandoned her and their two children, leaving them helpless.
Shortly after, she started working as a day-labourer, but the low-pay was not enough to cover the costs of her family.
She was hoping for an opportunity to better the lives of her children when Bhitarband UP Chairman Md Aminul Haque Khandakar gave her the chance to drive a battery-run auto-rickshaw through the Nageshwari upazila administration.
Without hesitation, Swapna jumped at the opportunity and starting driving an auto-rickshaw. She did not have to look back after that. She has been providing for her family and is also sending her 13-year-old daughter Radha Rani and 11-year-old son Hridoy Chandra Barman to school.
From living a hand-to-mouth life, Swapna is now sustaining her family while making savings for the future. Her story is being told on national and international platforms.
The extraordinary rural woman said her dream is to buy a pick-up truck and drive it herself. She wants to appoint another woman to assist her with her work.
Nageshwari upazila Executive Officer Shankar Kumar Biswas said: “Swapna Rani is a great example of the government’s success in empowering rural women. With the help of the government, Nageshwari upazila administration bought her the auto-rickshaw that changed her life. The government wants to help more women like her.”
Deputy Commissioner Sultana Parvin said: “We are very pleased that Swapna is getting recognition for her bravery and hard work. The government is working to employ the rural women in our society. More women like her will overcome poverty and hardships with the help of our government.”