Women Leadership Summit 2017 | Taking Leadership on Board

Women Leadership Summit 2017 | Taking Leadership on Board

February 13, 2018

To celebrate womanhood and to remark all the effort that women give to the society, Bangladesh Brand Forum had organized ‘Women Leadership Summit 2017’ powered by IPDC bank at Le Méridien Dhaka. We had the pleasure of having with us a few wonderful women from different genres, reminding us of how privileged we are to be in the company of these women who make a difference in the world in their own individualistic ways. Whether she is a professional, or a home maker, her presence enlightens the world with power, positivity and strength. We have summarized the highlights of the speeches from the key speakers, inspiring us to be who we are today and to embrace this magical identity of being a woman to carry ourselves forward for the future.

Dr. Dipu Moni

Former Foreign Minister, Bangladesh

Dr. Dipu Moni elaborated in her speech the need for women to “break the barriers”, the barriers that we created in our minds of the disparity between men and women’s work. What a woman does to take care of her family and in society which is often unthinkable for a man to do, but when a man is paid to do the very same work this becomes dignified for a man to do whether it be a cook or a professional cleaner. She inspired women through her speech by giving them the strength to believe in themselves, if women can endure the pain of going through child birth, they can do any task they are required to do. They have been trusted with giving life to another human being so there should not be any question of women’s capability and endurance. Dipu Moni was optimistic that there has been changes made to empower women, the political scenario has changed in our country where women have been given space in politics in top positions and this is a start to prosperity. She wished everyone concluding, “We will grow our society and family nicely with broad minded people for a better future.”

Rumana Rahman

Head of HR, British American Tobacco Bangladesh

Rumana Rahman’s enthusiasm for encouraging women was demonstrated through her interactive speech with the audience. She emphasized that women were needed in the corporate world and it was an economic requirement for women to have a place in corporations. 70% of the household purchase is done by women shoppers; hence they dominate purchasing decisions in the consumer world which in turn would have a domino effect of having women in decision making roles in corporations. She urged the women to be aware of their body language as this translates confidence and clearly an area where men were more expressive. By sharing some milestones from her childhood, she showed how confidence was a major part of achieving one’s goal and family support, trust and confidence in us is clearly essential in our upbringing to overcome any inhibitions. Rumana also encouraged women to use their support network as this was an advantage and a privilege in our country. Using the support system helps manage the double burden we feel as a family member and a professional. The support network extends to building teams in our workplace and through consciously building an effective team, we can make our work more manageable and sustainable.

Rubana Huq

Managing Director, Mohammadi Group, Bangladesh

Rubana Huq touched upon the inequality in the garment sector. Although 75% workers in garment factories are women, but in the unions there are hardly any woman representatives or any woman issues addressed. Her heartfelt story about a woman being bold and standing up to lead a union in an election was left with zero votes emphasizes the inequality in the industry. Furthermore, her disappointment was shared by everyone, that there was not a single female Director in the BGMEA despite the industry being dominated by women workers. Through her own experience, she acknowledged that women go through social awkwardness because of what their profession demands, but we need to continue working hard and being brave to overcome the social differences. Rubana urged the women to have faith in themselves and not have fear. She mentioned a number of women from different sectors who she believes to be incredible women who would develop the country as they were not scared to change perceptions.

Shobhaa De

Columnist and Novelist, India

Shobhaa De had a number of unconventional stories to tell which highlighted the struggles that women face in their everyday life. Her stories demonstrated how a woman is enslaved by what society expects and how she feels the need to conform to other people’s expectation of what she should be. A woman silently obeys these expectations in order to sustain in society. She said that although we have been speaking of women empowerment for many years, women are still suppressed as they are made to obey or made to feel guilty otherwise. She also encourages women to look out for role models that are women near to them culturally as this gives a better connection and context. Everyone has their own struggles and they fight their own battles. When we look around and see other women and their struggles, it gives us courage to move on. She had a very powerful message which relays that a woman does not need someone else to complete her. A courageous woman is complete with the strength that comes from within her and she does not need to wait for anyone else. De ended her speech by recognizing the youth of Bangladesh that they needed to be acknowledged for their courage.

Nirupama Subramanian

Consultant, Facilitator and Coach, Leadership Development and Personal Transformation

Nirupama Subramanian talks about unconscious bias. The society takes for granted what women can and cannot do even before they are given a chance. This in turn also makes people prejudiced in their thoughts but this is something we accept in society very easily, whereas in reality the biasness is a great offence. The biasness as she rightly points out is in all of us and this is our defense to survival. She also enlightens the audience about where this instinct comes from, it is in our upbringing, in our society and in the way we have been conditioned to make quick decisions for ourselves. Nirupama also discusses leadership at length and how a woman leader tries to adopt the male qualities of a leader to conform to the expectations of the male colleagues. In this process she loses her true potential to be a popular leader because she loses her authenticity. The solution to this, she advised the audience to consciously not make a judgement when we meet someone; not to judge them through their appearance or when we know their status; but to consciously ask and clarify their stand before making a judgement that springs from our bias. She encouraged the women to take charge on their own as the power will come from within us and only then we can let go of the biases and shine and let others shine in our presence.

Sonu Grover

Country Manager, Sri Lanka, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia

Sonu Grover related to the audience by sharing her personal experiences of her journey to the top and highlighted the reality of how only few women were represented in the senior leadership roles in corporations. She addressed risk taking, prioritizing, building trust and making a difference in what we do as key for women to accelerate in their positions. She described the struggles she faced in the initial years of her career as the only female in a team but her determination led her to survival. She stated that networking is fundamental to moving on and it was healthy for women to be engaging in socializing despite their busy daily schedules. She strongly stressed on taking calculated risks in making decisions, rising from failures and advised to have an intentional imbalance, which is to prioritize and let the rest go. She believed that trust is of vital importance in leadership and that is when the leader would have followers. The speech ended with a quote from Grover where she said, “at least get started, you will find a lot of trees which will offer you shelter.”

 

Tania Amir

Barrister-at-Law, Amir & Amir Law Associates

Tania Amir addressed the stakeholders that were important to women. She acknowledged, encouraged and welcomed men to be metrosexual and yet feminists. We carry values that spring from the patriarch environment we were raised in and she urges the men and the women to lift themselves and to embrace equality. She also very righteously states that when equality is unveiled by one male celebrity to the general male public, that message is a very powerful and influential one. She questions what women like in their men, is it the aggressiveness and macho traits or has that now evolved into embracing men who are sensitive, generous and a feminist. Tania refers to women as citizens, despite any gender affiliation and emphasizes that development in the country will be sustainable only when the contribution comes from all citizens. She refers to women and their sexuality and how this topic is still a taboo and urges the audience to have dialogues about this. How comfortable are we as women?

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