Bangladesh is a densely populated country and half of her total population is women. Development in all spheres of this vast population is highly needed to ensure the long term economic stability and prosperity as a priority. Women empowerment is, therefore, a development challenge as most of the women are not involved in economic activities as a consequence of rural backwardness, child marriage of girls, gender imbalance, and forced family bondage.Under the Governments‘ Digital Bangladesh policy and the thrust sector initiatives, an atmosphere exists for accelerated growth and meaningful engagement through active interaction and transforming the country into medium income economy and achieve ‘Vision 2021’ by ensuring the full participation of women in economic activities. Women participation in economic activities will alleviate poverty addressing unemployment and introduce new ways for income generation.
Towards a solution
To strengthen the ICT sector of Bangladesh, a2i, SME Foundation and Bangladesh Women in Technology (BWIT) with support from the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs jointly introduced ‘Women ICT Freelancer and Entrepreneur Development Program’ to create and develop women ICT entrepreneurs/freelancers/manpower all over Bangladesh with an emphasis to the remotest and underprivileged areas with a view to develop a pool of skilled manpower in the ICT sector. The main objective of this program was to create opportunities for women to be part of the supply chain.
Women ICT Freelancer and Entrepreneur Development Programme objective is to-
- Enhance the ICT skills among the women
- Create opportunities for women to be part of the supply chain
- Ensure the empowerment of women at the grass root level
- Empower women financially
- Introduce modern ways of income generation
- Alleviate poverty
This initiative introduced-
- Practical training on ICT like Graphics Design, Web Development, Data Entry, etc. primarily to Secondary School passed out girls with basic computer knowledge
- Three (Digital Center entrepreneur + Freelancer + Local change agent) in one
- CT freelancer and entrepreneur with the market place as well as with local clients
- Regular Mentoring
- Linkage with jobs
Women ICT Freelancer and Entrepreneur Development Programme yielded-
- Women’s financial empowerment
- Employment for ICT freelancer
- Digital Centre entrepreneur
- Linkage with the international market place
Training and job linkage, Use of opportunity (Digital Bangladesh initiative), Public-private partnership, Inter-ministerial collaboration make this initiative disparate from others.
This programme trained 3000 women from 64 districts. These female graduates are earning between USD 3,600 and USD 4,300 annually and contributing to their families with assignments and commissions in web design and graphics design.
The programme was conducted to ensure that, after its closure, the beneficiaries have the capacity to sustain the project on their own. Emphasis was put on beneficiary ownership as it remains a key element to sustainability. Interventions on developing systems, strategies, structural change of relevant institutions, engagement of concerned private sector employers, strengthening digital community clubs and other local institutions, community ownership through innovative approaches will ensure sustainability of the project. Several mechanisms to facilitate knowledge transfer are built into the project, the effectiveness of which will lead to sustainability within Bangladesh.
Countries/ territories involved: Bangladesh
Supported by: Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Industries, Local Government.
Implementing entities: ‘Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF)’, ‘Bangladesh Women in Technology (BWIT)’, ‘Access to Information (a2i)’
Project status: Completed
Project period: 2016-2018
URL to the project: N/A
Md. Masudur Rahman
Manager, SME Foundation