You are currently viewing From Vision to Action: Nazia Andaleeb Preema’s Strategies for Women’s Economic Independence

From Vision to Action: Nazia Andaleeb Preema’s Strategies for Women’s Economic Independence

BBF: How did the different sessions of the Women Leadership Summit connect and promote the theme of this year’s WILFest, which is “Pursuit of Women’s Economic Independence?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: First, when we talk about women, it is already a very complex discourse of society because of society’s notion of women. We surround it with so many complications. Women are supposed to be just another existence. But again, we make women an object. That is the priority, the first point. We need to intervene in different sections to bring it in the simplest form. Every time we dissect women, we have to go through many avenues to understand women and the stake of women in society. So, suppose we can bring women to a simplified place. In that case, women should have equal rights, salaries, leadership, and societal equality. So, if the theme of women was economic independence, it is crucial that if we want to earn it in the next ten years, we must be assured that in other places of equity and imbalance, we must balance women first. So, this time, the topic was the new personal branding of women created because of the technological revolution. So, we bring in the women who are doing good in these spaces. Another panel discussion was about how women leaders can help achieve Smart Bangladesh. So, in our demography, we have half women and half men. So, in these circumstances, if we need to cultivate a smart Bangladesh, we need to cultivate women.

To cultivate women, we need to ensure that women’s rights prevail. Law and order enforcement for women is rightly applicable. Even at another panel, Barrister Rasna also mentioned that the land that women get from their parents, the law of divorce, the law of education, and the law of religion, if all these are not changed, women will not be able to reach equality. So, even if economic independence is far away, if these are not appropriately addressed and cannot be solved, then financial independence is just a dream.

BBF: Inspiring Women Award has always been appreciated for its selective jury Panel. What influence do you have during the selection of the jury panels?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: The jury panel is essential because we all need more transparency at the grassroots level of Bangladesh. WIL has come from a philosophy that approaches integrity; it has to have honesty and target authenticity. So, in the corporate and professional fields, government bodies, institutions, academicians, and everywhere in society, such individuals create a voice. They always make a difference. So, our jurors, the way they are qualified, are from HR, various top-level corporate management, and diverse fields. The jury has so much diversity because another core element of WIL is diversity. Because of this diversity, everyone will see them as sustainable jurors. We also repeat jurors. But why do we do that?  Because they have observed the previous candidates. So, they also have an additional role to groom the new jurors. The newly appointed jurors, at the same time, bring new perspectives to the table. It is essential for both cohorts to identify the right candidate for the award.

BBF: This year’s WILFest took place during a global economic crisis. What, according to you, are the pivotal challenges women, particularly, face during any global turmoil?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: Well, it has been proven worldwide that women suffer more whenever a crisis arises. Looking at the developed countries, we can see the gender gap has been mitigated well in their workspaces. The outcome is reflected in their education, social status, corporate governance, and government body reliance. However, the scenario is quite different in developing countries due to some ground-level circumstances women deal with here. So, the question of equity has come up again. We have to put words and design a language where it’s needed.

BBF: What would be your expert advice on mitigating the persistent gender disparity across sectors in Bangladesh?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: The whole system perpetuates this gender disparity. It’s profoundly gender-biased and patriarchal to this day. The patriarchal mindset isn’t just about what individual boys do; it encompasses the entire patriarchal structure. I am an artist. I work with both the abstract and the figurative. So, for me, discerning between visibility and invisibility comes naturally. I can perceive both the tangible and the intangible aspects of an entity. Thus, I grasp the intricate political dimensions of patriarchy. Our actions matter; they determine whether we utilise the resources available. By leveraging our positions, we can reach our desired destinations. This is the essence of empowerment. Women must be astute in using the resources at their disposal, pinpointing issues, and finding solutions. We shouldn’t confine ourselves to predefined roles or secure seats.

BBF: Every year, the Inspiring Women Award receives a lot of nominations for different categories. Considering the last decade, how would you evaluate the growth and development of the nominations?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: Yes, in the last ten years, the growth of women has been significant in Bangladesh. But we should enhance it further. This responsibility doesn’t solely lie with the WIL but extends to all individuals involved, including the jury, the nominated women, the awardees, organisational leaders, panelists, and audience members.

I’ve assigned responsibility to various segments because WIL’s mission becomes more achievable if everyone acknowledges their role. My philosophy is that everyone should feel accountable. While WIL sets an example, the sustainability of women’s growth relies on multiplying efforts. An awardee must, in turn, empower and uplift others. Tthe impact multiplies when she encourages ten more women or men to support and advocate for women. Thus, the entire process becomes transformative and sustainable. The growth of those nominated is evident. However, if their growth remains limited, it defeats the purpose of WIL. I don’t mean to imply that they don’t comprehend this, but they must understand why they received the award. It’s not about garnering 300 Social Media reactions; it’s about the journey and how they inspire others.

BBF: WILArt 2024 added a unique dimension to WILFest, showcasing the artistic expressions of women. How do you believe art and creativity contribute to the dialogue on women’s empowerment and economic independence?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: Art and creativity are integral to the discourse on women’s empowerment and economic independence. They offer a unique avenue for expression and exploration, providing insights that traditional methods may overlook.

Philosophy emanates from art, and art contains science, branding, and sustainability elements. We uncover deeper meanings and perspectives by viewing issues through the lens of diversity. Women themselves embody a creative process, and leadership, in essence, is a form of soft power. Leadership isn’t about exerting dominance but about inspiring realisation and implementing change. Art and creativity are soft powers that complement the hard powers of strategy and implementation. They enable us to navigate complexities and envision possibilities. When we integrate both soft and hard powers, magic happens. Art immortalises ideas, while science provides a logical framework. Together, they form the basis for sustainable growth and progress.

BBF: People usually perceive art as a distinct discipline. But you have always considered art as a mainstream leadership skill. Why?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: Art transcends traditional boundaries and emerges as a vital component of effective leadership. It serves as a profound teacher, imparting invaluable lessons in creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. Through my journey with art, I’ve learned the art of marketing. I’ve become a versatile agent, capable of selling my ideas and creations. Art has enabled me to wear multiple hats – that of a creator, a theorist, and a strategist. It empowers me to navigate complexities and find solutions where others see only questions. Art is a holistic discourse that fosters a comprehensive understanding of various fields. It instills curiosity, prompting us to delve deeper into the “whys” of existence. This curiosity drives us towards solutions, making us experts in our respective domains. Consider, for instance, the process of designing a new car model. Art guides the initial stages, focusing on the aesthetics and design elements. Subsequently, it informs decisions regarding the target market, pricing, and promotion strategies. In this way, art seamlessly integrates with business and leadership practices.

BBF: Looking ahead, what will the WILs approach be in the coming years to address the challenges and opportunities for future women?

Nazia Andaleeb Preema: WIL’s approach in the coming years will transcend the conventional narratives surrounding women. Instead of viewing women solely through emotional and sentimental lenses, WIL will adopt a holistic perspective, recognising women as integral components of a dynamic and evolving universe.

Women embody a solar system of energy, propelling the entire cosmos forward with their feminine energy. Through the WIL Art Association, we will delve deeper into this energy, exploring its manifestations in the spiritual and professional spheres. Our mission for the next decade is clear: inclusive diversification to foster a sustainable ecosystem for all. Women serve as the energy that sustains reality itself, and without their contributions, our world cannot thrive. Thus, WIL’s vision is rooted in deeply understanding and acknowledging this fundamental truth.

Empowering corporate women, advocating for their representation in leadership roles, and ensuring provisions like maternity leave are essential steps. However, actual progress requires the involvement of development organisations to address the systemic challenges women still face. Women must recognise their potential and prioritise their well-being. This shift in mindset will catalyse a ripple effect, empowering women to uplift themselves and others around them. Beyond traditional roles of mother, wife, friend, or sister, women must embrace their humanity and demand their rights. Awareness and vigilance are paramount, ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender, enjoys equal rights and opportunities.

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