Ator Banu

Ator Banu is one of the amazing women leaders of Symbiosis Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in Bangladesh.

She first came to attention several years ago when we heard that the Golap Women’s Development CBO in the Gazipur District, of which she is President, had started up two Self Help Groups in their community under their own initiative,. This was done with only minimal help from Symbiosis staff. They were so happy with what they had achieved as members of Symbiosis SHGs that they wanted to share with other people in their community.

Hard beginnings

Ator Banu is herself a battler and a hard worker, having previously been a labourer, carrying gravel in a basket on her head for road works before she came across Symbiosis.

Ator Banu has faced opposition. Initially, many in her community opposed the idea of women associating in such groups, thinking that they should be confined to traditional domestic roles. Ator Banu is now a significant leader in her community.

Ator’s Observations

In an interview with the Symbiosis CEO, Lisa, earlier this year, Ator Banu noted, saving small amounts of money in SHGs not only boosts financial security for the individuals, but encourages a culture of saving within the community. 

She spoke of the work of the CBO as being focused on helping the marginalised people in society, including lobbying to get government allowances for destitute widows, getting maternity benefits for women who are entitled to them, as well as emphasizing mutual support and empowerment for those in the community.

Hopes for Golap Community Based Organisation

The Golap CBO aspires to buy land to build their own CBO office, so that they can expand and enhance their activities. Ator Banu is also working with younger women to prepare future leaders to ensure the sustainability of the CBO and to continue the work of the CBO in impacting the communit

Ator Banu with her family at a CBO Graduation Ceremony.

This story was prepared by Volunteer, David Vance.

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