Women are struggling to get proper rights from last two centuries. We see International Women’s Day has been observed to celebrate the progress made towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide on March 8 every year since February 28, 1909. Women in Bangladesh and worldwide are being empowered significantly, though women oppression is also increasing drastically.
Bangladesh Textile and apparel industry, mainly driven by women, is playing an important role to make women economically empowered. One of the country’s apex trade bodies BGMEA, a platform of 4.0 million workers and staffs, of which almost 80 % are women, has women representatives on its current board.
However, the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) also do not Sumaiya Rozalin Islam, Director, Jamuna Group have any women members on the board. Women representative should be present in each area.
Recently in a conversation with Bangladesh Textile Today Sumaiya Rozalin Islam, Director of Jamuna Group talked about women entrepreneurship, women employment, their problems and ways to overcome.
Textile Today: Why have you made your career in RMG sector? What was your inspiration behind this?
Sumaiya Rozalin Islam: I want to mention that my education background is information technology. I did my B.Sc. & M.Sc. from Australia and came back to Bangladesh in 2007. My father was engaged in managing several businesses in RMG sector. Our Jamuna Group is a reknown company since 1992. His activities inspired me and he also encouraged me to look after the business. So, I would like say my father was my inspiration in choosing this career.
Textile Today: What are the barriers do you think that women have to face in RMG sector? And how can they overcome these?
Sumaiya Rozalin Islam: With the pace of time, the mindsets of the people of our country have changed a lot. Women are now treated equally with men according to their capability. That’s why we can see the participation of women growing in all sectors, not only RMG. Now families understand that an women can be an asset to their family. But there are still some families which don’t support the participation of women in job sector because of their conventional thinking. In those case, women need to make proper communication with their family and never step back in case of flourishing in their career.
Textile Today: What extra facilities do you have for women in your factory?
Sumaiya Rozalin Islam: In our factory, we treat men and women as equal based on their capability. In fact, the number of female workers are more in our factory. Because women are comparatively calm, focused and productive. They simply focus on production and usually don’t take part in unrests.
Textile Today: According to a research by Japanese External Trade Organisation, women workers get comparatively lower salary in Bangladesh. How do you see this?
Sumaiya Rozalin Islam: You know that currently many of our low quality factories are being closed. Buyers are now focusing largely on sustainable, compliance, wage structure, worker-friendly environment issues. I can’t say anything about the lower quality factories, but in first class factories, it is not possible to give lower salary to women because of these buyers’ policies. Women are given proper respect to their service and a lot of extra facilities.
Textile Today: What are the challenges you are currently facing in business? How can you overcome them?
Sumaiya Rozalin Islam: There are a lot of problem-I must say. The major problem is price. Buyers are always coming up with new and updated requirements with every order. But on the contrary they are refusing to increase their price. In this situation, what we can mainly do is to increase our efficiency. We should make sure that our workers are capable of handling multiple machines like Chinese workers. We are also lagging behind because of the lack of quality raw materials i.e. cotton etc. Another big obstacle is our port congestion. Government should come forward to solve these port related problems, which will be huge beneficial for us.
Textile Today: Any special advice for the upcoming women entrepreneurs?
Sumaiya Rozalin Islam: Women need to change their mindset first. Almost all of our women are now educated. They must know about the scopes of RMG sector and prepare themselves accordingly. There are also many idols, whom they can follow for example Rubana Huq mam, our ambassador for RMG sector of Bangladesh. All women should be inspired from persons like her and make their significant contribution in RMG sector. So that we can move forward as a whole.