She added: “The project organized workshops for us which enabled us to learn and enhance our handicraft skills. At first it was just me, but after a while when other women started to see my success, they also joined me and started working with me.”
Fatemeh feels confident and empowered. “I now have an income and can support myself and my family. I make decisions and the men in our village have more respect for us. In a sense I can say that this project has brought unity among the villagers. I encourage all women to see their potential. It is never too late to change and make a difference” she says.
400 kilometers south of Hojjatabad lies Naz Dasht village.
Esmat runs a kindergarten and she also weaves carpets in Naz Dasht. “I went to school until grade six. I did not want to continue my education. I thought it’s pointless, because at the end I had to sit at home and not work. But the project motivated me to finish my studies and now I have my diploma.”
“My own personal experience allowed me to see the value of education and that is why I decided to open a kindergarten. I tell girls that is important to stay in school and become educated. I want them to feel equal to their brothers and fathers and other men in their family. If we start from young age then we will surely succeed” Esmat says.
According to her, men and women work alongside one another now and the men in the village give credit to women and respect them: “This project has made me feel stronger. When other men in my village see that I am so active and contribute to the wellbeing of my family then they start to open up to the idea and possibility of allowing their own daughters, sisters or wives to do the same and be agents of development in their community.”
“I have one last message” Esmat said “and that is that I hope one day all men around the world realize that gender empowerment and eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development and with this in mind work alongside women and not exclude them in their societies.”
(Source: UNDP in Iran)