The spirit of women leadership in Bangladesh

Women in Bangladesh have the spirit to fight against the stereotype thinking, overcome the social stigma and utilized the limited access to resources to drive their leadership role. Recently, Bangladesh women cricket team has qualified for the ICC World Cup T20 with a glorious journey of qualifying round which just came after winning the Asia cup final by a dramatic three-wicket win against six-times champion India to clinch their maiden Asia Cup in last month. I am sure all they went through the social and cultural obstacles to stand at this current position. Indeed, nothing could stop their life force to prove competence. They can make history like the Kalsindur village super girls who played in AFC U-14 Girls’ Regional Championship in 2015 and made the victory for the first time.

It is an inspiring story of the small village girls, where female is not allowed to play games, but some of the amazing teachers’ assisted them in making it. Continually the women of Bangladesh surprise us with their accomplishments in sports, education, entrepreneurship, labor force, politics and all other areas despite insufficient access and friendly environment. In spite of inadequate access and poor ecosystem for women leadership, frequently they amaze us with their accomplishments in sports, education, entrepreneurship, labor force, politics and all other areas.

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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina receives the Global Women’s Leadership Award from Global Summit of Women President Irene Natividad in Sydney on Friday. * PHOTO: PID

This year the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina received the Global Women’s Leadership Award from Global Summit of Women 2018, Sydney for her outstanding leadership in advancing women education and entrepreneurship for economic empowerment. The country becomes a model to empower women through microcredit, gained unprecedented success in girl’s education and ranked first in gender equality by the World Economic Forum among the South-Asian nations for the third consecutive year.

Intensive programs and better policy for girls’ education made this outstanding result. Almost 100 percent enrolment rate at school and the gender parity is being achieved in primary education. The country is on the way to achieving gender parity in tertiary education and females are encouraged to take teaching as a profession especially in primary school. However, all these achievements in gender parity to participate women in the economy and girls’ education, there is a significant gap of women in organizational hierarchy and policy-making role.

When people discuss with me about women in Bangladesh, most of the time the conversation starts related with garments industry and microcredit. Then it turns to women participation in politics, policy making, and leadership role. Our prime minister is women, the speaker is women, and the opposite leader is also women; after listing this, eventually the next topic is what the ratio of women in the policymaking and the organizational hierarchy.

For the last ten years, I am attached with women economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in Bangladesh through my professional work and activism. From my experiences and statistic, I realized that financial literacy and access to formal financial services for the woman is still unsatisfactory in Bangladesh though they have an enormous contribution to economic growth. Women are not only running the garments industries’ economy also participating in green jobs as solar technicians and entrepreneurs to solve the energy problem in rural areas, empowered themselves economically and prevent environmental impact.

Half of the population of Bangladesh are female; it’s time to make a balance in the leadership role of women from village community organizations to the corporate, public and private sector, profit organizations to non-profit organizations and every platform of the association and society on the policy-making team. The government and all stakeholders should take the initiative for quality education in tertiary level, proper policy to create market opportunity and work environment, encourage girls in STEM education and innovation to take the challenge for future skill management and leadership role.

Right now, we need to focus on the fair policy to support women leadership in the organization, changing the social perception about girls’ potentiality and most importantly should care about the physical and mental health of female to lead their life without fear to serve the society as a leader.

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Naiyer Fatema

Naiyer Fatema is a financial inclusion specialist and women economic empowerment activist. She experienced working with the financial organizations in Bangladesh and designed some financial products for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SME). She is a business graduate and a Masters in Development Studies (MDS). Currently, she facilitates programs in Digital Spaces in Adelaide to support communities taking the advantage of emerging technologies and new opportunities. Naiyer is an International Exchange Alumni of the U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs and a member of the Development Network, New Zealand.
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