When Shwe In Thu (SIT), a nongovernmental organization in Myanmar, introduced the Improving Market Opportunities for Women project to the village of That Yet Sin, the women responded to the opportunity by forming the Village Saving and Loan Association. Daw Thu was eager to join, but her husband did not support that idea. She was very determined and persuaded him by agreeing to finish all her household chores first, before attending the group meeting. Daw was also responsible for taking care of her in-laws, as well as her two children. But she managed. She enjoyed the group and signed up for their gender and leadership training. Daw Thu gained in skills and confidence, and eventually became well-known as an eloquent speaker during village meetings.
But Daw Thu didn’t stop there.
She went on to complete the savings mobilization and bookkeeping training and was invited to become the accountant for the village’s development programs. Because she was both active and progressive, she was also asked to participate in the village’s social affairs committee.
Daw Thu is also a Lead Farmer who managed a garlic demonstration plot, where she uses irrigation sprinkler technology—something she learned during training provided by SIT. Now women farmers from neighbouring villages come to see her farm and to learn from her. It makes her very happy to know that she can support her family with her growing business and that she has gained the respect of her community.
The goal of this project is to increase the contribution of women agricultural producers to economic growth in Myanmar. It brings together local non-governmental organizations, small and medium-sized enterprises, central and state governments, and financial institutions with the goal of increasing women’s access to credit, inputs, markets, and introducing new technology to the women. Some 25,000 women in Shan and Karen states will be able to increase their incomes and status in the Myanmar economy.
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