Speakers at a workshop titled "Women's Economic Empowerment and Gender Responsive Policies in Bangladesh" pointed out that revisiting the current gender-responsive policies and practices is a must to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs in the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) and ensure sustainable progress in Bangladesh's economic development.
Women's Empowerment for Inclusive Growth (WING), a joint project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, and UNCDF, organised the workshop on 22 August in a hotel in Dhaka.
Connecting virtually as the chief guest, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said, "Cultural and social barriers often restrict women entrepreneurs from accessing financial institutions. We are striving to ratify women-friendly policies that could strengthen their capacities to avail all forms of opportunities and resources."
Netherland's Ambassador His Excellency Anne Van Leeuwen, the event's special guest, said, "Women's economic empowerment is imperative to strengthen women's voice and improve their position socially, economically and within the family. Supporting women's economic empowerment not only helps the national economy but also helps advance their personal needs, interests and objectives".
UNDP's Acting Resident Representative, Van Nguyen said, "The government has been working hard over the past several years to support women entrepreneurs in obtaining the appropriate training, access to mainstream financial institutions, and market to support SMEs in addition to concentrating on women's development through gender-responsive budgeting and planning".
"We are committed to continuing our support in reforming the existing gender-responsive policies and strengthening the monitoring mechanism so that women entrepreneurs from every sphere of the economy can attain the facilities given by the government," she said.
UN Women's Country Representative Gitanjali Singh added, "Effective gender-responsive budgeting is crucial at both national and local level and should be complemented by participatory budgetary processes and strengthened monitoring mechanisms."
"Moreover, we need to create an enabling space for women leaders and civil society to participate and influence budgetary discussions and outcomes," she added.
Earlier, Kajal Chatterjee, National Project Manager of WING project, presented the keynote paper on WING and Iftekharul Amin, Associate Professor, IBA, University of, shared the study findings on Reviewing National Financial Policies.
UNDP's Gender Team Leader, Sharmin Islam moderated a session on revisiting the policies on women-led CMSMEs, where Kazi Shakhawat Hossain, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Md. Hafizur Rahman, Additional. Sec., Ministry of Commerce, Md. Jaker Hossain, General Manager, SME & Special Programme Department, Bangladesh Bank, Rumana Khorshed, Deputy Secretary, NSDA, Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, Joint Secretary, PD, A2i, ICT Division, Dr Sayed Saikh Imtiaz, Professor, Department of Women & Gender Studies, University of Dhaka took part.
UNDP, UN Women, and UNCDF, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh and supported by the Government of the Netherlands, have been implementing the Women's Empowerment for Inclusive Growth (WING) project since November 2020 to develop skills for creating dignified and formal participation of women as employees and entrepreneurs in local economies