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Friday, 30 November 2018

Guest blog post by fair trade toy brand Best Years

Our wonderful Pebble toys are made by a fair trade organisation in Bangladesh that provides fairly paid employment to women in rural areas. Most of the women who work for Pebble are young or newly married with children. Pebble are happy to offer work to people of all ages and there is a wide range of women of different ages do take up the opportunity to work with Pebble.

All of us at Best Years have just turned 50 so we are the same age as Provati Rani Mondal in this picture. We all have children, but in many ways that is where the similarities end. We have all led privileged lives which means we both feel 25 years old much of the time! What we all have in common is the desire to make sure our children have the very best start in life we can give them – a desire that most parents around the world will have in common. We are also now linked by both being part of the Pebble family.

Three women over forty years of age.

It’s a controversial subject in the West. Never ask a woman her age – that’s the rule. In the West we are bombarded with advertisements for anti-ageing products and articles on the quest for everlasting youth. You would be forgiven for thinking that you have failed if you succumb to the inevitable process of ageing! No wonder people are sensitive about asking a woman her age. This seems to be a First World concept and it’s a much less sensitive issue in rural Bangladesh where the women are happy and indeed proud to tell you their age.

Pebble work with predominantly young women. Some of these women are trying to finish their education or delay their marriage into their twenties and some are young women who have young children and want to ensure that their children will be educated and given opportunities that perhaps they did not have. But they also provide a very useful opportunity for women who are slightly older as well. Women in their forties in rural Bangladesh can find it more difficult to find suitable work. Much of the employment available to women is heavy labouring work or work in the fields and women in their forties in rural Bangladesh are often no longer physically able to do this type of strenuous work. Knitting and crocheting Pebble toys is really ideal for them as it does not require physical fitness. More mature women will often have more time available to work as their children are no longer so young. These women do still need to earn money to provide for their families – perhaps to help improve the future prospects of their grandchildren too. We are delighted to introduce you to three of the Pebble artisans who are over forty years of age and to share their stories with you.

Provati Rani Mondal - in the centre with glasses 
Provati Rani Mondal is 49 years old and has two sons. Provati’s husband works in farming and their family income is very low. At certain times of the year their income drops as there is little farming work. When she was younger, Provati was a day labourer but the work was extremely strenuous and she found it increasingly difficult as she got older. Pebble came to her village to open a centre and teach crochet and Provati took up the opportunity to learn and earn an income with her new skills. She is working to contribute to her family expenses and ensure that her children go on to further education.

Rina Bala Mondol is in the centre of the picture 

Rina Bala Mondol is 42 years old and has one daughter. Her husband works as a day labourer but this work is intermittent and does not provide a consistent or guaranteed income. Before Pebble came to the village, Rina used to go to the forest to cut down trees and collect wood to sell and provide some additional income. Now that she is trained as an artisan and is working for Pebble toys, Rina provides a consistent income for her family which means that they can keep their daughter in school and save some money – something that was not possible in the past. An added environmental bonus is that she has stopped collecting wood from the forest which is very important in ensuring climate change resilience in Bangladesh.

Ayna Rani Mondol - sitting in the middle of the picture
Ayna Rani Mondol is 42 years old and has two daughters and one son and her husband is a farmer. Farm work is seasonal and affected by natural calamities such as flood, cyclones and drought so it is hard to plan and save. Having children is expensive, and Ayna and her husband are keen for their children to have a good education and to improve their prospects in the future. Before she started making Pebble toys, Ayna was a day labourer but she found the work physically exhausting and every day had pains in her body after work. Now that she makes Pebble toys she is very happy that her health has improved and that she can earn the money she needs for her children’s education without sacrificing her own health.

We are so delighted that these ladies shared their stories with us, so that we could share them with you and explain how buying Pebble toys helps this group of women over forty to realise their dreams – as well as numerous other women in rural Bangladesh of all ages.


>>This Guest Blog Post was brought to you by ethical fair trade toy brand Best Years

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