Though women’s contributions to the economy has increased significantly over the years with many becoming entrepreneurs these days due to a women-friendly policy, experts have underscored the need for ensuring more jobs for women to achieve the country’s desired goals.
They said women should be given more financial facilities so that more women can emerge as entrepreneurs as they are very eager to play an important role in the country’s economic development.
The experts said Bangladesh will not be able to achieve its development goals if the unemployment rate among both men and women is not cut quickly.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), around 46 percent of graduates remain unemployed in the country.
The country’s unemployment rate increased to 4.37 percent in December 2017 from 4.35 percent in 2016. The number of unemployed people in Bangladesh increased to 2.70 million in 2016 from 2.60 million in 2015, the BBS data showed.
Dr Mohammad Mahfuz Kabir, research director at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), told UNB that women account for one-third of the country’s total employment. “So, the existing women empowerment is not enough in this overpopulated country to achieve the double-digit economic growth.”
“More women employment is needed to achieve the double-digit economic growth. Only women education is not enough, they’ll have to be employed in various ways. Or else, our development goals won’t be achieved,” he said.
Dr Mahfuz said small and medium entrepreneurs are now getting highest Tk 25 lakh each as loan for doing business but many women are reluctant to be entrepreneurs availing of this opportunity.
He underlined the importance of ensuring more financial facilities for women than their male counterparts. “Special packages can be taken for them,” he said.
Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the participation of women should be increased in the labour market to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
“Bangladesh’s women are making progress in education. But they can’t join the labour market properly for various reasons, including social, family, communication and accommodation ones,” she added.
Fahmida said women have to be qualified so that they can use technology to sustain in the labour market, emphasising that the government should impart training on them.
Hasina Newaaz, vice-president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said although the government has taken some women-friendly initiatives, these are not implemented properly.
“The participation of women in all spheres of society is important for achieving the country’s development goals. But women can’t play their due role due to social barriers and disparities. So, those should be addressed immediately,” she said.
SME entrepreneurs said they are facing a big problem to diversify products for want of skilled women workers in addition to complexities while taking loans from banks.
Sharmeen Jahan Khan, owner of Naya Craft, said she been running handicraft business for several years. But she needs skilled manpower to diversify her products.
“Now, there’s a competitive market both at home and abroad. Buyers demand new designs and new products. But, we’ve to face a big challenge to diversify our products for lack of skilled labourers,” she added.
Sharmeen said there are many women in the country but they are not skilled. The government should train them up to improve their skills.
Mentioning that capital is important for running a business, she lamented that they have to face complexities while taking loans from banks.
Another women entrepreneur and trainer Hasina Mukta told UNB that she started her business with Tk 50,000 ten years ago which is now a Tk 50 lakh venture.
“I’ve been able to become an entrepreneur. First, my aim was to earn money for my family. But now I’m teaching women at different training centres alongside my business to create more women entrepreneurs in the country. I’ve trained up around 2,000 women entrepreneurs in the last several years,” Hasina said.
The owner of Natunatta Boutiques added that she has been taking part in the National SME Products Fair for the last seven years. “We want to keep significant contributions to achieving the SDGs and Vision 2041 when Bangladesh will become a developed nation.”
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun at a programme recently said the government took many initiatives, including a women-friendly policy, to increase the contributions of women to the country’s economy.
“Some 66 percent of the participants of the 8th National SME Products Fair 2020 are women where they’re promoting their products made in Bangladesh both at local and international markets,” he said.
The minister said two-thirds of the 296 SME entrepreneurs participating in the fair are women fashion designers. “We arranged a seminar titled ‘Participation of women SME entrepreneurs in export trade: Potential and Challenge’ at the fair as well.”
Source: United News of Bangladesh