Bangladesh’s graduation to a developed nation largely depends on women’s engagement in economic activities, policymakers and bankers said.
They, however, said negative social norms were hindering women’s economic engagement in the country.
They made the observations at the launching of a three-day ‘Bankers-SME Woman Entrepreneurs Gathering and Product Showcasing Fair-2019’ at Bangladesh Shishu Academy premises in Dhaka on Friday.
The SME and special programmes department of the central bank is organising the fair marking the International Women’s Day.
Education minister Dipu Moni said the society will lag behind if women remain behind men.
‘Even though women are showing their capabilities in different level including attaining excellent results in academic ground, traditional mindset of the society creates huge walls surrounding them by imposing wide range of embargos,’ the education minister said.
Such embargos make it difficult for women to become a person with independent capacities, she said.
Moni said that despite the obstacles, women had proved their capacities in every areas including in the fields of politics, aviation and many more.
Bangladesh Bank governor Fazle Kabir said that the country would become a higher middle-income country by 2021 and developed one by 2041.
‘To attain the goals, the country’s import-dependent economy must be changed into export-dependent one,’ the BB governor said.
He also said that the women’s role would be very much vital to shifting the economic nature and becoming a developed nation within the government-set timeframe as it would not be possible without their adequate participation in the economic activities.
The central bank has been giving importance to empowering women under the policy framework for small and medium entrepreneurs, said Kabir, adding that issuance of 15 per cent of the SME loans to women was made mandatory for banks.
Besides, nursing three woman entrepreneurs and issuing credit facility to at least one of them have been made mandatory for each branch of banks, he said.
Getting a job is not the only parameter of success, becoming entrepreneurs and creating jobs for others are also achievements, the BB governor said.
BB deputy governor SM Moniruzzaman said inclusion of women in the country’s economic activities was very much vital as they constituted half of the country’s population and that was why the central bank had facilitated loans at 9 per cent interest rate for women.
Women are supposed to get up to Tk 25 lakh in loan from banks without any collateral, said Moniruzzaman, adding that the provision was yet to be implemented fully.
Association of Bankers, Bangladesh chairman Syed Mahbubur Rahman said, ‘Even though we are getting women in different level of jobs but their presence in leadership role is not that visible because of socio-economic reasons.’
Speaking about the positive incentives in banking with women, the ABB chairman said, ‘Non-performing loan in the overall SME sector is around 15 per cent while rate is only 5-7 per cent when it comes to the loans issued to women entrepreneurs.’
At the inaugural session of the fair, Dipu Moni and Fazle Kabir handed over demo cheques for loans worth Tk 10 crore of different banks and non-bank financial institutions to woman entrepreneurs.
Fifty-eight stalls of different banks and NBFIs have been installed in the fair where products produced by woman entrepreneurs are being showcased.
Visitors are also getting information on credit offers of the banks and NBFIs at the stalls.
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