Published in The Financial Express on Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Thrust on women’s role in their more economic empowerment
Experts call for ensuring access to finance
Experts at a programme on Tuesday stressed that women should raise their voice in a unified way to build consensus about the acceleration of economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs in the country.
Apart from ensuring women entrepreneurs’ access to finance, they said, policymakers need to focus on shaping a pathway for marketing and distributing their products and introducing technological innovations in women-led business.
The observations were made at a dialogue on ‘Re-imagining Sustainable Pathways for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh’ jointly organised by iDE Bangladesh and Asia Foundation Bangladesh at a city hotel.
The programme was arranged before launching of a five-year project ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment through Strengthening Market System (WEESMS)’ funded by the Embassy of Sweden.
Moderated by Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs president Rokia Afzal Rahman, the dialogue was addressed by former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) distinguished fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Swedish ambassador in Bangladesh Charlotta Schlyter, Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) under BRAC University coordinator Simeen Mahmud, and SME Foundation deputy general manager Farzana Khan.
Speaking at the programme, Dr Atiur said Bangladesh has come a long way, particularly in women empowerment but still needs to do more collectively.
Mentioning that the women in rural Bangladesh have been getting empowered due to financial inclusions, the former central bank governor said 80 per cent of the rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka use mobile financial service (MFS) to send money to their rural households especially to their wives.
He also informed that there are more than 15 million people in the country who make about 5.0 million transactions daily by sending over Tk 10 billion from the cities to the rural areas.
CPD distinguished fellow Mr Bhattacharya said a couple of decades ago, in terms of gender issue, it was very prominent that ‘leave no women behind’, but now it should be ensured that no women should left behind within the women group.
Citing a study, he said women have been discriminated in getting wages comparing to men in agricultural and construction sector despite their number is increasing in the sectors.
CGST coordinator Ms Mahmud said a consensus on changed mindset is important to improve the situation of women entrepreneurs while women should also consider viable employment alternatives.
The programme was also attended by Asia Foundation Bangladesh country representative Sara L Taylor, iDE Bangladesh country director Deepak Khadka and entrepreneur and co-owner of Dhaka Dough Shamima Akhter.