Bihar’s Khatoon shows lovely way to empower rural women
There was a time when it was considered bad for women to go out for business or work. Women working especially in rural areas had to face many challenges.
Muslim women had to face such problems on a larger scale, given many restrictions imposed on them.
Even today there are many restrictions on women in Muslim families and they are prevented from doing business while history is the witness that the first woman to accept Islam and the most beloved wife of Prophet Muhammad (Mustafa Sallallahu Tala Alaihi Wasallam) was Sayyida Khadija (Razi Allahu Taala Anha) was a prominent businessman of Mecca Sharif.
Similarly, many women at the time of the Prophet are reported to have actively taken part in business.
Hazrat Asma bint Makhzama (Razi Allahu Ta’ala Anha) used to make perfumes. Hazrat Khula bint Taqit (Razi Allahu Ta’ala Anha) used to sell perfume, and she became so famous that she came to be known as Attara. Hazrat Zainab bint Jahsh (Razi Allahu Ta'ala Anha) used to carve leather and used this leather to bandage the wounds of the mujahideen (fighters taking part in war).
She also used to spend her earnings to help widows, orphans and the destitute. Many Sahabi (women companions) were associated with the medical profession.
The Prophet permitted the women of the Ansar to treat fever and ear diseases.
The examples from the Prophet’s time show that it is not wrong for Muslim women to do business. Rather, they can do any legitimate business at the time of need.
We have to pay attention to the economic problems of women and have to articulate them in a productive way. In no other society women suffer so much from economic depravity and poverty as they do in Muslim society.
However, things are changing slowly now. Muslim women are making slow but steady strides in business too.
Even though they remain under the yoke of social bondage and are showing exemplary guts to move past such roadblocks.
Defying a restrictive environment, Lovely Khatoon, a woman from Dumdolia village of Chapakhur Panchayat in Katihar district of Bihar, has done a wonderful job for herself and shown light to other women. Khatoon is being lauded all over Bihar today. And his example is being given.
Khatoon has been educated up to Class 12, and she is a mother of two little girls. Khatoon has become a big name today; she has enabled dozens of women to run their business with her.
And these businesses are such that for them, they do not even need to go anywhere; rather they can work from their homes and run their families.
Khatoon said that she was sensitive since childhood.
When she was young, and her mother used to see better off aunts, grandmothers, women in the neighborhood, and other relatives, she used to feel very sad because their economic and social status was not improving.
She was always worried about money.
“Seeing all this, I used to think that what should be done to improve the condition of the women of our house and the women of the area so that they should become self-sufficient,” she says.
Khatoon says that this question kept her mind occupied most of the time when she was a student.
And when I passed my Intermediate, I decided to join social service. “After doing some social work, I happened to join Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society or JEEViKA, a state government initiative to help ameliorate rural poverty. Meanwhile, I was married. I along with Jeevika members started guiding the women of the areas and started working for their economic stability."
"My family also supported me in this and my husband and in-laws also supported this decision,” she says.
JEEViKA provides women hassle-free access to bank credit so that they can start their small businesses.
Khatoon says that women can promote household chores in a simple-to-understand and effective way; these include tailoring, embroidery, fancy work on clothing, carpet weaving, preparation of raw materials for food and beverages, packaging of various items on a small scale, production of sports equipment, etc.
They can do this work themselves and if they want to do it through workers, then there is no problem as well, she says while explaining how Jeevika works.
In this regard, Jiveka’s block coordinator Mazhar Kasim said that Khatoon is currently working as a master resource person.
“She has been on this post since last 2020. And so far he has done a fantastic job. Till now, she has empowered dozens of women. He has linked women with livelihood through the business of grocery shop, goat rearing, cow rearing, etc. The result of Khatoon’s efforts is that today dozens of women are running grocery shops in the area. Many women are doing goat rearing very well."
"The women who used to be financially troubled have now become independent. And their economic condition has improved a lot,” said Kasim.
Khatoon is not limited to just helping in providing livelihood to the women, but she goes to their shop everyday and checks their accounts and monitors how they are faring. If she finds any mistake, she helps them correct it.
Khatoon says that earning money is not the only goal but it should be put to good use, so she also makes sure that if women working with her have children must send them to school, and if possible they should themselves attend school to make up for their education loss.
Khatoon says that education is such a weapon that can win over many obstacles and opens several doors of success.
Of her mission to work among rural women, she says, “Allah wills, I will continue to help women empower themselves through this mission.”