Aarong, one of BRAC’s social enterprises employs 65,000 artisans, 85 per cent of whom are women. These artisans find an extensive support system through the Ayesha Abed Foundation, Aarong’s network of production hubs which are spread all over Bangladesh.
As customers enter Aarong retail stores, they are met by fine textiles and handicrafts that the brand strives to preserve. But what goes on behind the retail front and how do these iconic products come into being?
When you meet Fatema, ‘transvestite’ is not the word that immediately comes to mind. But that is how she is referred to by colleagues and strangers alike. She prefers to wear shirts instead of covering herself with a dupatta (scarf) and wears her hair short.In Bangladesh her behaviour goes beyond most peoples’ social expectations regarding gender.