Profession: Dianjpur, Bangladesh
My name is Sahera Khatun. I live and work in the Khansama sub-district of Dianjpur, Bangladesh. The people here call me amin apa (land measurer sister). It took me a long time to earn this title. I was born in a very poor family, like so many others in Bangladesh, but I received a lot of support from my husband, and later on from my children. I began as a barefoot lawyer, and then pursued certified land measurement training through BRAC’s property rights initiative project.
I am well aware that measuring land is uncommon as a woman in rural Bangladesh. I was severely criticised when I first began. Working in the fields among dozens of unknown men is something that is just not done by women. One day, I was ambushed by seven men who were also land measurers. They demanded to test my knowledge of what was a ‘man’s job.’ I stayed calm and measured the land I was assigned to that day in front of everyone. Not only did I do just fine, but the news spread to many others, because so many had gathered. More people began to accept my job as I resolved land disputes in the area, and the demand for my services began to spread to districts beyond my home. Today my opinions are so highly valued that I am regularly invited to take part in local village meetings. As a barefoot lawyer, I also continue to refer survivors of human rights violations to BRAC’s legal aid clinic and offer free land measurement services, particularly to women and people living in poverty.
From May 2015 to April 2016, Sahera rendered land measurement services to 277 individuals and earned a total of BDT 95,930 (approximately USD 1,230), with a monthly average income of BDT 8,000 (over USD 103). With her income, Sahera bore both her son (who now works as a field worker for Grameen Shakti, an NFP) and daughter’s educational expenses. Sahera also bore the costs of her daughter’s marriage. As of April 2016, a total of 79 female LEs have received land measurement training via this flagship project.