December 9, 2022, 10:56 am

Staff Correspondent

2022-09-08 07:24:57 BdST

Digital skills for women entrepreneurs critical to boost the post-pandemic recovery

More women entrepreneurs need to be equipped with digital tools and digitalization skills to boost their businesses through e-commerce for the country’s post-pandemic economic growth, speakers said at an event on Wednesday (Sept 7) in the capital.

Many potentials of e-commerce were exposed during the pandemic, which is subject to the availability of digital tools and skills for the women entrepreneurs that allows them to avail all the opportunities presented by the government’s digitization activities, they added.

The workshop, on two UNDP studies, titled “Empowering Women Through E-Commerce: Digital Devices to Bridge Digital Divide” was organised by the Women’s Empowerment for Inclusive Growth (WING) programme, a joint initiative of UNDP, UN Women and UNCDF, supported by the Netherlands embassy.

NM Ziaul Alam PAA, Senior Secretary, ICT Division, joined the event virtually and said, “Women's empowerment is one of the keys to economic development, political stability, and social change and our Hon'ble Prime Minister has adopted and implemented various programs aimed at building financial self-sufficiency and capacity building for women empowerment.”

He thanked UNDP for taking the initiative to reduce the digital divide by providing necessary skills and training to the marginalised women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

Earlier UNDP’s National Project Manager for WING & SWAPNO Project Kajal Chatterjee, and UNDP’s Country Economist Nazneen Ahmed gave the opening remarks. They provided the country context, while BIDS senior research fellow Dr Muhammad Yunus who headed the studies, presented the findings.

BIDS Research Associate Rizwana Islam and Dhaka University of Engineering & Technology Associate Professor Dr Abdur Rahman Forhad supported the studies. A monitoring system is needed until the entrepreneurs become independent in their respective exercises and periodic follow-up training with continuous skill development support is also required, which are the major recommendations of the studies.

The needs assessment study explores women MSMEs entrepreneurs' challenges, needs, and priorities with particular attention to their participation in online business operations. The impact assessment study tried to understand the impacts of access to e-commerce through smartphones on business practices and the empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

Embassy of the Netherlands Senior Policy Advisor Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar, Project Director of ICT Division’s iDEA Project, Md. Altaf Hossain, Ministry of Commerce Additional Secretary, Md. Hafizur Rahman and BIDS Director General Dr Binayak Sen spoke as special guests.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Van Nguyen gave the closing remarks; she said, “There is a proven result of how digital devices increase the capacity of women to contribute to their livelihoods; however, without proper digital infrastructure and digital skills, we can’t reap the benefits. UNDP is working with the government and partners to reduce the digital divide.”

The workshop aimed to get feedback and programmatic recommendations from stakeholders, government officials, public/private financing institutions, UN agencies and other participants based on the findings of the studies and get suggestions on possible collaborative opportunities.

WING is a 3-year programme that aims to contribute to women’s inclusion in the local development process by supporting women’s economic empowerment. WING programme’s Anondomela Initiative was taken during the height of the pandemic to enable marginal women micro-entrepreneurs access to greater markets. 

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