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Govt move for trans employment lauded

Published : 06 Jun 2021 10:20 PM | Updated : 07 Jun 2021 12:36 AM

People from all walks of life have welcomed the government offer of a 5 percent corporate tax waiver of organisations that will create jobs for third gender persons.

Entrepreneurs, sociologists and third gender community leaders have lauded the government's move to provide the tax cut on condition of hiring third gender people.

They expressed the hope such an initiative will be helpful to break the social stigma about the community as well as empower them.

In his budget speech the finance minister proposed to add necessary provision, “If an organisation employs 10 per cent of its total employees or more than 100 third gender persons then the employer would get 75 per cent tax rebate from the salary paid to them or 5 percent of payable tax, whichever is less.” 

The proposal was made by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal while presenting the National Budget for FY 2021-22 in Parliament on June 3.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has also made the proposal to mainstream transgender people by bringing about a change in people's mindset about third gender persons who face discrimination and are deprived in society.

Generally, transgender are neglected in society and face discrimination. There was no financial benefit on offer for businesses that employ third gender persons who are known as Hijra in the country earlier but in this current budget, the government took such an initiative to break the social stigma about the community as well as empower them, an official of NBR said.

While talking about the government's move to create jobs for Hijras, Dhaka University Professor Dr Selim Raihan of the Department of Economics said that offering the incentive for employers to create jobs for third gender people is absolutely a good initiative.

“Third sex people are socio-economically backward than other people and they are outside the mainstream of society. Social attachment will ensure able-bodied population to involve in productive activities of our country,” he added.

According to third gender community leaders and Bandhu Social Welfare Society officials, a number of transgender people are currently working in the apparel and fashion industry as operators, merchandisers and other officials, some are working in the leather goods manufacturing industry as operators, some are working as security personnel in private universities, some are involved with non-government organisations.

Besides, a good number of them have become entrepreneurs, while some work in the service sector – fast food courts and beauty parlours.

Two transgender women are working as media professionals. One of them is Tashnuva Anan Shishir, the first transgender news presenter in Bangladesh.

"If the government mentions us as the third gender then it creates the impressions that some are a superior citizens and we are third grade - it should be transgender," Boishakhi television news presenter Tashnuva Anan Shishir said adding that the government has taken a good initiative, but it will be better if an initiative is taken to create some government jobs for this community.

Shumi, a hijra working as an assistant safety officer at Denim Expert Limited, said, "I am very proud of myself as I have an identity and a decent job."

Shammi, a transgender entrepreneur, has employed five people from her community in two of her beauty parlours in Ashulia.

Shammi said, it is very tough to get social acceptance. Firstly, everyone was hesitant to get their service. Gradually, they have got acceptance through their services.

She also welcomed the government's initiative to create job opportunities for the transgender community.

Rose, another hijra, has been serving as an assistant merchandiser for the last two years at Ze Projects, a concern of Fashion-Theory Limited, a France-based buying house.

Mostafiz Uddin, managing director at the Denim Expert Limited, a Chattogram-Karnaphuli EPZ based denim maker, is a pioneer in employing third gender persons in a garment factory.

"We have to do it as a social responsibility and set up an example so that others could follow it," Mostafiz said.

In this regards, Shale Ahmed, executive director of Bandhu Social Welfare Society, an NGO working for the transgender community since 1996, said, "It will be a milestone to move forward for social inclusion of the transgender community,"

If the government gives a tax waiver for employing transgender people that may help to break the social stigma and create a positive mindset about them, he added.

He also mentioned the government had given them a hijra gender identity in 2003.

According to the Ministry of Social welfare, there are now about 11,000 Hijra in Bangladesh.