There are over 962 million older people worldwide, according to the United Nations. Many face greater risks and difficulties in accessing health, social protection, care and justice.
Geeta lives in Bangladesh, where one in four women are widowed or divorced by the age of 50 – leaving them vulnerable to poverty, poor health and abuse.
Her family thought marriage would be a way out of the poverty she was growing up in, so she was only 12 when she got married. In those days it was common practice for girls to be married early in her village in Shyamnagar in the Satkhira District. Sadly, marriage only increased Geeta’s hardship.
In the first ten years of married life Geeta had four children, three girls and a boy, but it was only her son that went to school. It pained Geeta that her daughters were deprived of an education, but she could do nothing about it. Her husband Pravash was a fisherman who would catch fish in the adjoining canals and rivers around the mangrove Sundarban. His income was not enough to support the family, let alone send their daughters to school.
Life took a turn for the worse
One day, just after their eldest daughter’s wedding, Pravash went out fishing amid heavy rain. He fished for three days despite arduous weather conditions and returned with lot of fish. Unfortunately, he also came home with a high fever, and passed away three days later.
Losing her husband so unexpectedly was a terrible blow for Geeta. He was the family breadwinner, and she was left to bear the expense of running her household and educating her son. Geeta was completely devastated but was determined to do whatever it took to support her family.