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bangles2A woman contracting in the glass bangles sector in Pakistan reports that previously her husband did not want her to even look out the window. After participating in MEDA's Pathways and Pursestrings project, Reshma's success has changed her husband's attitude. Now that he sees the benefit of her work, he is comfortable with her attending the monthly group meetings. Reshma, the glass bangles contractor, observes, "Almost everyone here is of the opinion that women should be locked up at home like show pieces. But one needs to overcome that to move forward. I have left that behind without fear."

Reshma's husband's change in opinion indicates a key element in the success of women who move into more active business roles – the support of male relatives. He says, "A husband and wife are like the wheels of a car; they carry the entire weight of the household. If women work, then the burden of the household can be shared." This support from the men in their households has been critical to the success of many women participating in the project. Reshma was one of 13 women who moved into the role of contractor in the glass bangles market system, a role previously held only by men. As a contractor she works directly with factory suppliers and with the retailers to whom she sells her finished products. "I discovered myself," says Reshma who moved from processing glass bangles to a position of group leader and eventually becoming one of the first contractors in the glass bangles industry, working directly with factory owners and retail shopkeepers. "I used to work for others," she says. "Now I have 70 people working for me."