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Solidarity from the Soroptimists; Celebrating International Women's Day

Rethinking Homes in Lockdown

We were all challenged in 2020;

For women in rural Bangladesh, flooding magnified the COVID crisis. The communities in southern Bangladesh are on a delta and so each year they expect inundation. However, the 2020 floods in Bangladesh had some remarkable characteristics. The flooding started in late June, earlier than usual, with a never-before seen “triple peak”, resulting in the second-highest level of flooding since 1989. Five and a half million people were affected, and 1 million houses were waterlogged. About 1.1 million people were displaced.

Women of these communities are used to challenges, navigating inequalities and injustice in a country where women’s rights are not taken as read. However, rebuilding homes became an insurmountable problem, and how do you earn a living when you have no home?


The shout out came from our partner Women's Empowerment Programme, late in 2020. They do an inspiring job of supporting some of the most marginalised women in our society; supporting them to work using traditional skills and natural materials to make bags and baskets for Turtle Bags and other Fair Trade organisations. There is a breadth to the programme which brings support through savings schemes and skills training.

Kohinoor who has headed up the programme called me to ask if there’s any support we could give to the group.

Recognising the crisis, our local Soroptomists offered to raise funds for a pilot project developing new models of housing to cope with the changing climate. The houses would be offered to the most vulnerable women in the community.


Over the next 12 months, the Soroptomists worked in earnest. Resourcefully fundraising in lockdown, gathering together when they could and on zoom when they couldn’t. In 2021 funds were dispatched to Bangladesh.

In the Spring of 2023, two houses were completed as a pilot project and offered to the most vulnerable women in the community.

There was sufficient funds for a boat which allows independent travel by the women throughout the year.

An enormous thank you to the Kidderminster and District Soroptomists, for their timely intervention. We know the affects of Climate Change are not going away anytime soon, but It’s the act of support which is most welcome and in the words of Kohinoor “Thank you for standing beside the artisans.”

Today being International Women’s Day we celebrate the connection between us all.


The Soroptomists are an international Women’s movement advocating human rights and gender equality.

Turtle Bags has worked in partnership with an inspiring Women’s Empowerment Programme for over 15 years. Women in the programme are supported with the tools to make their own living in their own homes. They work with plant based fibres such as jute and seagrass making bags and baskets for Turtle Bags and other Fairtrade organisations across the word.

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