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International Women’s Day- Women entrepreneurs, professionals opinion-

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International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8 to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. It is also a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equalityreproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women. In Bangladesh women are contributing a lot in the highest remittance earning sector- Textile Industry. Team Textile Focus and Denim Focus talked with women leaders, entrepreneurs, successful professionals from the industry on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Key feedback are covered for our reader –

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One of my goals is to empower women in mid and higher management-Neela Hosna Ara, Chairman of Crony Group and Director, BGMEA

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I have worked in the RMG industry for 28 years. As a female entrepreneur, I have faced a number of challenges however I believe being a woman is my biggest strength. I have joined the BGMEA with the aim to use my unique perspective to represent women’s issues and influence the growth of female entrepreneurs.

My idol is and has always been Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Her patience, diligence and grace in guiding our country to where it is today is inspirational. Our economic and social development under her time as Prime Minister is the reason, I was able to grow my business today.

As Director of BGMEA, I will use my experience and position to empower women inside and outside the industry by raising awareness of various important issues. One of my goals is to empower women in mid and higher management. It is essential that we create a healthy and safe work environment for them.

I wish to ensure and further enhance the working condition, state of being, and feeling of empowerment amongst them-Shehrin Salam Oishe, Director, BGMEA and Envoy Group  

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Over the years, the working culture in Bangladesh has evolved greatly. Now several big business houses, private and public offices have women holding major positions. I myself, feel empowered representing BGMEA as the youngest Director. I walk in the footsteps of none other than my idol, my father, a former successful president of BGMEA, Abdus Salam Murshedy, MP. To my immense pride, my father’s term, 2009-2011 was the first time a female director was elected in BGMEA. He not only believed that the sector, which has over 65% female working here, must have female representation in the Board, but he worked for its realization as well.

Representing a sector that played a major role in shaping the lives of the general women in this country, I wish to ensure and further enhance the working condition, state of being, and feeling of empowerment amongst them. Improved training, comprehensive knowledge, and collective cooperation are major goals, realizing which shall enable this sector to house more females, not just as ground-level workers, but in mid-level officers and higher officials as well. The women in this sector are our brightest hope for a greater future of this nation by means of this sector.

As a director of BAYLA, I aim to empower women from all walks of life to understand their value/position in society and to move forward with confidence-Zarin Rashid, Director, TRZ Group and BAYLA

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Being a Director of TRZ and a woman myself, addressing/analyzing facilities to make life easier for the women working with me is my biggest priority. Listing some of the common practices we currently have in our factory and aim to add more in the future.

– Sanitary napkins are offered at half the price to promote health and hygiene amongst female workers.

– Female workers that are recruited as helpers are trained continuously to be promoted to operators as this increases their strength and capability to earn more for their families.

– Female operators are trained to be multi-skilled and to run machinery that is usually expected to be handled by men.

– Female workers are always empowered to do well in order to be in lead roles (I.e. supervisor or managerial positions).

– All workers are able to avail groceries at a wholesale price from our in-house Fair price shop.

– Breast-feeding mothers have their designated area to feed their babies.

– Pregnant women are diagnosed by our in-house doctors for free till their EDD (expected date of delivery).

– Childcare facilities are given to working mothers till their children reach the age of 6.

– Disabled women workers are a part of our workforce and we continuously strive to empower them further. As a director of BAYLA, I aim to empower women from all walks of life to understand their value/position in society and to move forward with confidence. There’s truly no limit to growth and I hope our second-generation comes together through our platform and works as a team because as the saying goes “talent wins games but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

A Courageous, Competent and Composed woman can create miracles for society, country and community.-Kyaw Sein Thay Dolly, Managing Director, Cloths ‘R’ US Ltddolly

The absence of women in the industry senior position is the reflection of the society and tradition of our country. As the family is the core of society so the industry or country is the reflection of how families are composed.

There are three segments of this thought process, first is for women to be competent and eligible to be in the position she is opting for. Second, if her family supports her to climb up the stair as she is dreaming of and third if the industry or work environment is supporting or welcoming a woman to be in that position. Even though the challenge exists in the entire process but the solution always starts from within.

I always encourage women to look deep into a man’s life as well. Men are also fighting back throughout his life against so many obstacles and challenges but being Men, they don’t have any alternative so eventually, they have to succeed but many women give up the battle most of the time in the middle of the field, mostly due to family.

Being a woman, she really needs to be creative, think more for the solution than embrace the struggles and get into depression, frustration, and mantle anxiety. A Courageous, Competent and Composed woman can create miracles for society, country and community.

A thirst to become a successful woman in entrepreneurship led me to learn everywhere from dyeing to washing in the textile industry-Rehnuma Chowdhury, Managing Director of Fifth Alliance Global Trading Ltd.

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We are usually inspired by the people around us, and this is no exception for me. Two of my uncles have factories, I grew up watching things in factories since my childhood. Since then, many questions have arisen in my mind how many great things are being made with these fabrics most of the people in my family are entrepreneurs, a thirst to become a successful woman in entrepreneurship led me to learn everywhere from dyeing to washing in the textile industry.

According to BGMEA, we have 4000 garment factories of which around 20% of owners or decision-makers are female. When they represent their company on an international platform like seminars or global forums, a positive concept is formed in the whole world about Bangladesh that there is no gender discrimination.

Apart from this, Lack of necessary training, lack of experience & exposure affects the competence of the rural affluent women entrepreneurs who want to contribute to the textile industry.

Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change-Rumana Ahmed, Director, Asmoor Ltd.  Asro Fashion Ltd, Logic Software Ltd.

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In recent years, the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh has experienced rapid growth. Overall, most of these new jobs have gone to women, yet few women have been hired as managers.

In the Bangladeshi garment manufacturing sector, women account for approximately four in five workers, but only one in ten managers. This inequity arises even though almost all managers are promoted from among the workers. In addition to being unethical, discrimination against women may be contributing to a shortage of qualified managers, holding back industrial growth in Bangladesh.

Researchers worked with 24 large locally owned and managed garment factories in and around Dhaka, In the study factories, baselines surveys show that factory employees inaccurately rate women as worse supervisors relative to men. For example, participants rate women as having less knowledge of machines than men, for which there is no evidence. These views persist throughout the hierarchy but are more pronounced among men who are potential subordinate workers.

the Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR) initiative will be scaled up to train 700 female operators and their managers in 70 factories. GEAR trained 144 female workers in the pilot phase; 58 of whom are now in supervisory roles with a 39 percent increase in salary in March 2019.

In general, mental setup is Men are more qualified or efficient workers than women. It’s our traditional mental setup. Our GDP is going faster, social setup going faster but our mental setup is still an infant. When we discuss or think about any higher position like Managing director, CEO or Head of the department unconsciously we think it’s a man who can only hold this position. It’s a judgmental thought. Actually, the position depends on too many factors like quality, experience, ability & efficiency, etc. position does not depend on Gender.

The industry needs to act in a responsible way to make sure that women will not face the bully in the workplace-Sabrinna Sharmeen, Founder, Textile Tech Association, Team Leader, Varner AS Fa Bangladesh Liaison office.

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There are many women preparing themselves to build their careers in the RMG sector. Some want to build their career in the field of fashion designing, merchandising, production, testing lab, etc. And now the dream went even bigger in the textile sector. Women want to share their contribution in dying and printing. If industry gives the opportunity to these newcomers with safe security and a proper environment then we will be able to see more women in decision-making positions.

Women have dual life with family and profession where they need to give time to raise their kids. They teach the next generation for the country. So, the industry needs to act in a responsible way to make sure that women will not face the bully in the workplace and they will have a proper working environment with safety and security. Because they have the lights which will enlighten the next generation and the society.

Along with a man, a woman can also spend money on their children’s education & I think it’s the biggest freedom and dignity of an earning woman-Misha Chowdhury, MD, Stylish Garments Limited.; Director, BD-Philippines Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

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RMG is a vast sector in our country as I believe crisis always leads to opportunities and this sector is undoubtedly complicated & we have to tackle so many things and it’s a big opportunity to know people from every sector as we have to tackle workers, banks, buyers and so on.

And there was a thrive of my husband Mr. Salauddin Chowdhury to contribute to society he just one day told me “Why don’t you use your brain for the well-being of the people? Work for them if young generations like us also don’t take challenges than how will go further as a nation”. So, his encouragement and my parents taught me sincerity most importantly not only bookish lessons but also about life and also my Father in-laws dream to do something big, and most importantly Almighty Allah leads to my entrepreneurship.

By giving source tax, RMG sector contributing a lot to our budgets which are used for countries’ developments, peoples well beings. It feels good when we see that by working in a factory even if with minimum education one can start the journey and end with more than a lacs salary. We feel proud to see USA president also wearing Bangladeshi products. Most importantly 50% of our nation is women & I firmly believe only RMG sector gives them that sovereignty to say NO to abuse of their home which was our earlier scenario.

Along with a man, a woman can also spend money on their children’s education & I think it’s the biggest freedom and dignity of an earning woman. Widely RMG sector gave our nation’s women reliability. So as a woman though many obstacles, uncertainty crisis but altogether this sector leads to opportunities which we have already seen. That’s why involvement in RMG really worth it. Like so many developments have happened but undoubtedly to gather with the moving era so many more developments also need. Happy woman day to all the women out there.

In my organization, women and men are treated equally and there are lots of lead roles which are operated by women here-Nadia Haider Toma, Managing Director, Cosmo Groupnadia

The business attracts me. I grew up in an environment by watching Top business leaders. They make decisions that are more complex than ever before and they understand the full scope of an enterprise and its potential in an economy.  My role model is my father, a person who has a positive influence in lots of people’s lives and who took lots of initiative and responsibility that could change the lives of many more.

In my organization, women and men are treated equally and there are lots of lead roles which are operated by women here, I believe that women don’t need extra facilities, they need equal opportunities and a work safe environment to work, which I strongly ensure in my company.

I feel that women should utilize their full potential and realize that they’re capable of so much more-Nipa Jannat, Director, BGEA and VP(RMG) IICCI

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Thankfully, more women are working now and earning their own money for themselves. it’s very good to see this and very inspiring to even more women around the world. Also, they’re still in the lower levels of the apparel industry etc. I feel that women should utilize their full potential and realize that they’re capable of so much more. I feel that people’s opinions and expectations tend to bring down the motivations of lost women which really is an unfair thing. I demand to stop child marriage and take more serious action against it. It ruins people’s lives and contributes so much to how much women aren’t able to do a tribute to their dreams.

As business leaders, we can also make a conscious decision to hire more females in top management positions and keep doors of support open for female employees to ensure they can sustain their career paths-Saira Mansur, Vice Chairman, German Bangla Chemicals

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For today’s age, 80% of women working for the Bangladesh textile and apparel industry, is a huge success! Still, this 80% holds only a small percentage of top-level female professionals. Unfortunately, many business owners still hold the mentality that the future and legacy of their companies should be run solely by their sons or males, in general, should have top-level positions. This mindsight stems from the belief that women belong at home as maternal figures and once married belong under her husband’s provision. Undoubtedly this does not mean women are incapable of taking on such a demanding role and it is our job as the next generation leaders of this industry to cause a shift in the paradigm of these old-world thinking and gender norms.

In Bangladesh, more and more women are making the choice to put their careers before their family planning and this is absolutely the right way as it guarantees not only security for their future but also a heightened sense of self-worth. As business leaders, we can also make a conscious decision to hire more females in top management positions and keep doors of support open for female employees to ensure they can sustain their career paths.  What I mean by doors of support, is paid maternal leave, and child care costs for top-level female professionals. In my husband’s company “Robintex group of Industries” and “Complex Ltd.” They provide an on-site daycare facility for line workers, and those who have been in the company at top-level positions for over 10 years get their children’s education cost covered. Although his factory is predominantly male in the top-level section, these benefits are not exclusive to males only. For my company “German Bangla Chemicals” it is our goal to make a conscious effort to consider female applications and hire qualified females when we come across them.

The fashion industry is a massive industry with a multitude of jobs available, the textile and apparel industry in Bangladesh occupies a prominent position within the country’s industrial structure.-Afsana Ferdousi, Department Head, sustainable design and development at Team group, Fashion technology Expert and Activistafsana-ferdousi

There are a lot of opportunities available once you’ve acquired your fashion designing degree apart from the usual designing jobs. The fashion design course offers the scope of working in the different sectors but one will need to find their niche to make a career out of it.

The fashion industry is a massive industry with a multitude of jobs available, the textile and apparel industry in Bangladesh occupies a prominent position within the country’s industrial structure. Fresh graduates can begin their fashion technology careers by associating with renowned fashion houses, designers, and brands to obtain experience. As people are becoming more and more fashion-conscious, the industry is gaining enormous exposure. The incredible quality of craftsmanship that fashion designers are one of the reasons for their high demand.

If you possess great talent in fashion designing, then there are endless opportunities waiting for you. By being proactive and a focused and constant learner, you can make a brilliant career. ­The fashion world is chasing technology, innovation, and sustainability. Artificial intelligence will continue to be used as a part of the design process. E-commerce will become the dominant force and it will enable a lot newer brands to come out of nowhere. This is already happening and is a new thing for our generation. And I believe that in near future almost all clothing will be at least partially sustainable. Clothes will have labels that tell the customer more about the product and its sustainability quotient: Where does it come from? What materials is it made of? Who made it? So, I believe the future of fashion is going to be more astounding with a balanced integration of Technology, Innovation, and Sustainability.

I think Women professionals also need to be developed their leadership skills-Aleya Aktar, General Manager- HR, Ha-Meem Group.

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Yes, this is a very sad situation in the Bangladesh RMG industry that more than 80% of operative women are administered or supervised by >95% Men. And at the top level, % of women is >1/2%. Though I have reached the top position of the Organization’s Business Administration and HR, I am not happy with this algorithm at all.

I think Women professionals also need to be developed their leadership skills. They must pause the tendency of being in as usual “Safe Zone” rather than enjoying more challenges. They need to be more proactive, strong & courageous. Our Owners need to feel the necessity & importance of female leadership and encourage them to take the challenge.

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