‘A woman’s place is in the house, devoting her life to take care of her husband and her children’, this was the mindset that Shamshad bibi was raised in. Married at the age of 20 she is now a mother of one daughter and three sons, traditionally her life was supposed to be centered on her family but Shamshad bibi did not conform to the societal expectations and worked to make lives of women in her village better.
Shamshad bibi has worked with HANDS for four years to spread awareness about childbirth, family planning and maternal health. Working for this cause is not just a passion for her but rather it stems from personal experience. Her fourth pregnancy was filled with complications which became fatal during childbirth, and despite being able to go to the hospital people in her community suggested to not waste money on her as ‘she is going to die anyways’. The reason she survived her pregnancy was because her husband took her to the hospital when her condition became too serious. But instead of resenting her community she decided to help other women in need of help. Several women in her village have lost their lives due to complications during childbirth and not being able to get professional maternal healthcare in time.
With the help of HANDS Shamshad bibi carried out door to door intervention going to more than 300 houses to spread awareness on the importance of mother’s health during pregnancy and birth, and the importance of having a gap of three to four year between children. Despite facing backlash from the people in her community who accused her of ‘trying to end their bloodlines’, Shamshad bibi braved on and her efforts were paid off in the coming years. Women were now adamant about going to the hospital during childbirth which was possible through an ambulance service and under the pretext of buying household items women will buy contraceptives from her. The number of deaths in her village due to childbirth has decreased accredited to her efforts.
Her generous efforts were not only limited to helping women and expecting mothers but in the time of need, she joined the HANDS intervention for COVID prevention and advocated for better hygiene and washing habits among her community. Community like hers was affected severely due to COVID where around 20,000 people were unemployed and many had to sell their personal items or take loans to put food on the table. Even though Shamshad bibi was not able to help her community financially, she made sure to protect the health of the people in her community.
Now at the age of just 35 Shamshad bibi is a respected member of the community, especially for women, and her unfailing efforts have paid off for the betterment of women in her community.