By UN WomenPapiya Parvin from Debhata Upazilla, Bangladesh, has just bought a cow to start her own farm. She is also the first woman from her village who travelled to Tokyo to share her experience as part of a UN Women and BRAC programme that is empowering women to curb the rising tide of extremism in rural communities.

“Our society is mostly dominated by men, and most of us think that only men have the right to earn money and support their families. It’s difficult for women to get access to the market. I wanted to break this stereotype, and that’s why I started my own business.

For me, it all started with receiving a loan from BRAC and UN Women. Along with the funds, I received training on how to budget and plan my business, and learned skills about cattle farming.

I bought a cow with the loan from BRAC to start my own business [of breeding cows]. I am planning to build a big farm eventually.

I also learned about how I can contribute to my society as a woman. For example, there is a rising trend of extremism and we should all try our best to protect our community. I believe that if women are empowered, we can create more peaceful societies. When a woman is able to realize her worth and utilize economic opportunities, she has more say at home and in the community.

Among all the women receiving loans in our community, I was chosen to attend the UN Women Regional Conference held in Tokyo. I had never stepped outside of my village before, let alone out of the country! I met so many new people and heard stories of how women are being empowered in other countries as well. When I came back to my community, they were very proud of me and welcomed me with flowers and a reception!

There are still many girls in my community who are unemployed. The way I took steps to change my life has made them realize that they too can become entrepreneurs like me. They are now motivated to look for similar opportunities to improve their skills and start their own businesses.”

Photo: UN Women/Snigdha Zaman

This story previously appeared on UN Women and is republished with express permission in partnership with Women You Should Know. UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. For more information, visit Follow on Facebook and Twitter.