The power of relationships: love and solidarity in a landless women’s organisation in rural Bangladesh

This article examines the significance of social relationships in women’s lives and their
relevance to processes of women’s empowerment. In Bangladesh, traditional structures limit women’s social interaction to their immediate family and maintain male responsibility over them. However, here we look at the example of Saptagram – a social mobilisation organisation particularly focused against gender injustice towards rural landless Bangladeshi women – and how by providing relationships beyond the private sphere it engendered bonds of friendship and loyalty amongst its beneficiaries. Difficulties with systems and its inability to recruit a new line of leadership led to its apparent failure at one point. Yet, despite this, by providing knowledge of rights, respect, courage to stand up for one’s beliefs and a sense of wellbeing through working alongside people in the villages, it inspired an enduring solidarity amongst the women it served which led to its eventual resurrection.

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