Our impact, Their voices

Never worked, can’t hear but proving nothing is impossible with a little training

In 2014, the Canadian Government teamed with the Government of Bangladesh and the ILO to fund the Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity (B-SEP) Project and, through it, reach out to women of all ages – not just youth – and especially in remote and marginalized areas with skills training in non-traditional (male-dominated) occupations, followed by assistance with finding jobs that rely on those skills.

Feature | Dhaka | 30 May 2019
DHAKA, Bangladesh (ILO News)- After her husband died from illness in 2016, Jannatul needed to find a way to earn income to take care of her two children. She had never worked in her life. She moved in with her brother, who also was taking care of their mother, in Khilgaon, a densely populated area of Dhaka. But she needed to contribute to the household. Her options were limited due to her hearing impairment and having only a Grade 8 education – she had attended a school for special needs where she learned sign language (Jannatul was born unable to hear). She then taught her family how to sign.

At age 28 at that time, with no education, no work experience and no hearing, finding a way to earn income seemed daunting, if not impossible.

After a year of a struggling search to be productive and feeling more and more like a burden at home, Jannatul heard of a like-changing opportunity from one of her former school teachers. It was a vocational training programme available to people of all ages through the Parents Forum for Differently Abled.

She started the six-month food preparation course in 2017, learning to bake and provide restaurant service. Upon completion of the course, she was hired as a cashier in Swapno, a famous retail chain, which trained her to make bills and manage the payments. The store conveniently uses a digital monitor that lets the paying customers see what they owe.

That was the beginning – from then on, my life changed. I’m not dependent on anybody, and I can earn to support my family and the children’s education."

Jannatul Ferdous

Jannatul earns BDT7,000 per month, an amount she says has changed her life – it has given her a confidence in knowing that she can properly take care of her family. She can send her children to school and contribute to the household. She is planning to learn additional skills so that she can manage a superstore in the future. By developing skills and discovering her capacity to integrate within the hearing world, Jannatul feels, first of all, that she is no burden to her brother and is contributing equally in their shared home. And all of that, she signs, has created a happier home for her children.

The Bangladesh Skills for Employment and Productivity (B-SEP) Project is an ILO project funded by the Government of Canada and carried out in close collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh. The initiative aims to make skills in Bangladesh nationally recognized, accessible to all, higher quality and directly linked to jobs.