Women show their talents in the country’s IT sector

Rafiza Akhtar came out successful in the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations in 2018. She achieved “Golden A Plus” both in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and HSC exams.

Rafiza’s dream was to study at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), and civil engineering was her subject of choice. Accordingly, she was taking preparation to materialise her dream.

Before the admission test, she met one favourite teacher of her school suddenly. After exchanging greetings, the teacher wanted to know about her interest in the subject she wants to study.

When Rafiza informed her wish, the teacher praised it. Simultaneously, he advised Rafiza to keep the subject of computer science in her mind. Because in the current digital era, the value of studying in computer science is higher. And in the field, the females are lagging behind than the males.

Rafiza liked her teacher’s advice, and her interest increased after hearing the word that the women are lagging behind. She took a decision that she will have to get admitted at the BUET Computer Science Department.

To achieve the target, Rafiza continued her study and finally she was admitted at her dream Computer Science Department.

The story of Champa Biswash who lives in Dhaka’s Mirpur area is some different. The 39-year-old Champa joined a job in a non-government organisation after completing her BBA and MBA from a private university. She got married two years after the job and she continued it (job) after the marriage.

Champa faced a little problem when she was blessed with her first child. Two years later, she gave birth to another child. After that she quit the job to manage her two children. Her elder child reads in class nine, while the younger in class seven.

When the two children go to school, Champa doesn’t have any work and her time is not spent. After discussing the issue with her husband Biplab, she decided to complete a short-term course on computer to do outsourcing work.

After finishing the four-month course, Champa started doing outsourcing work sitting at her house. Though she faced a little bit problem to get work at the beginning, she didn’t not get any rest after six or seven months. Even, she has to work till midnight.

Later she took a decision to recruit four women who know such work. In this way, 11 females are now doing outsourcing work under Champa. She now earns Taka 50,000 to Tk 55,000 on an average every month after excluding all the expenditures.

According to Bangladesh Open Source Network (BOSN), 25 percent women are now studying computer science or other subjects relating to information technology (IT) at 90 educational institutions including universities in the country. The BOSN got this information by conducting a survey since the 2005-2006 academic year.

As per the BOSN survey, 13 percent female students out of 25 are engaged in the ICT industries after completing their study. However, only one percent women take part in any competition on ICT. The BOSN said there were only five teams out of 979 in the preliminary qualification part of ICPC (International Collegiate Programming Contest) Dhaka round held in 2015 where women led the teams.

After the survey, the BOSN conducted various campaigns to inspire the women in engaging in the ICT sector. It yielded fruitful results as women participated in 129 teams in the same meet held in 2016.

BOSN General Secretary Munir Hasan said their aim was to engage more women in the ICT sector.

“We had taken two projects titled — ‘The Girls in ICT’ and ‘The Missing Daughters’ — to raise the participation of the girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics so that they can build up their career in these fields because their participation in these fields is not satisfactory,” he said.

Munir continued that the BOSN has been organising many inspirational programmes in different universities of the country. “We had to spearhead this campaign to only encourage the female students (in the ICT sector),” he added.

According to the World Bank, nearly 1.2 million jobs are generated in Bangladesh annually, and the males occupy most of the employment.

“Bangladesh Development Update” recently advised to enhance the participation of women in employment further than the current amount to make Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021.

It said Bangladesh’s GDP growth will increase by 1.6 percent if the women participation in the ICT sector could be raised to 82 percent from existing 33.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the present government has taken up various initiatives to enhance the women’s participation in the ICT sector to build Digital Bangladesh

The government with the financial support of the World Bank has been continuing various inspirational campaigns under the Leveraging ICT for Growth, Employment and Governance (LICT) Project to create more than 10,000 skilled women manpower in the IT sector.

Under the LICT project run by Bangladesh Computer Council under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division, nearly 34,000 males and females were provided with ICT training. Later, a scope for employment will be created for 10,000 female trainees.

Vice-President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Farhana A Rahman said the ICT sector is more suitable for women in comparison to other fields.

She noted those women who dream of becoming entrepreneurs can come to this sector as there are many areas in the field.