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Women's representation only 5% in FBCCI

  • Published at 05:06 pm May 12th, 2017
  • Last updated at 06:44 pm May 12th, 2017
Women's representation only 5% in FBCCI
There are only three female members in the current 60-member board of directors of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), making women's representation in the apex trade body a mere 5%. The three directors – Monowara Hakim Ali, Naaz Farhana Ahmed and Hasina Newaaz – represent different chapters of women's chamber of commerce and industry in Bangladesh. Having such a small presence of female leaders in the top trade body in the country is disappointing, especially when the government, the opposition and the parliament of Bangladesh are all led by women, said several female entrepreneurs. There are several reasons as to why the number of women in the FBCCI board of directors is still so meagre, said female business leaders. “Becoming a part of the FBCCI is difficult for women, especially when they take part in the direct election for the board membership,” said Monowara, who represents Chittagong Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the FBCCI board. Besides, male entrepreneurs do not regard their female peers as equals, which is another major reason behind the absence of female leaders in the FBCCI, said Selima Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a former FBCCI director. “Men do not consider women as their equal, or believe that women are equally capable when it comes to business,” she told the Dhaka Tribune. Most leading chambers and associations do not have women's representation in their boards, except for Metropolitan Chamber of Commence (MCCI). The MCCI has set an example by electing female president several times. On the other hand, the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry has never had a female president or vice-president since its inception. Other trade bodies have similar problems too. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), two leading trade bodies in the RMG sector of the country, do not have women in their current boards of directors. The BGMEA, however, has had two female directors in the past. “I contested for directorship in the BGMEA and won. But the BGMEA, as an association, did not select a woman to represent them in the FBCCI,” said Vidiya Amrit Khan, former director of the BGMEA. “Being a representative of a sector where 80% of the workers are women, what progress can we achieve if the BGMEA does not nominate women?” she asked. The election for new board of directors of the FBCCI for the term 2017-19 is scheduled on Sunday. Only two women are taking part in the election. “Despite being capable, it is always a challenge for women to compete on such a platform because of our society's mindset,” said Shomi Kaiser, candidate in Sunday's election and a member of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh. “But there has been a lot of changes; we are getting more positive response. We need more of this,” she added. “I think the time has come to rethink the idea of leadership in business as our sons and daughters are entering the world of business equally,” said former BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy. “Opportunities should be equal for both the parts of the new generation.” “The more women engage in business, the more businesses will develop. To encourage women, the government and other stakeholders should train women to build their capacity,” said Selima Ahmad.
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