By AKM Kamal Uddin Chowdhury
DHAKA, Dec 19, 2017 (BSS/UNICEF) - Because of various big or small barriers in the social environment even a few decades back, it was very difficult on the part of Sanjeeda Ismail Chaudhuri to choose banking as a profession since an educated lady obviously wants to be a doctor or a teacher.
However, nursing has been an open profession for women who desire to join this humanitarian service as their career but banking is something otherwise as well as challenging as a profession in the hitherto male dominated Bangladesh.
Yet, there is a sizeable number of women doing their jobs in banks and other financial institutions side by side with their male colleagues with equal footing, many of them already holding most senior positions by proving their worth as professionals.
"I am fortunate enough to join a bank as per the will of my family members in 1998 when the number of women working in banks was far less than that now," said Sanjeeda Ismail Choudhuri, Senior Assistant Vice-President of the National Credit and Commerce (NCC) Bank Limited while talking to BSS.
The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her governance in 1996-2001opened all doors in the job market and the production fields for the women, empowering them to be equal partners in development side by side with their male counterparts.
Of all the areas, the banking sector has been able to recruit quite a good number of women as careerists who have by now made a great stride as successful management officials. "Like many of my male colleagues, I am also playing a vital role in the country's financial sector," Sanjeeda, also manager of the NCC Bank Basundhara Branch, said with a profound sense of pride.
When she joined the NCC Bank as a provisionary officer, only a few women took banking as their profession for many reasons but, as the years rolling out, this particular profession is growingly becoming a dream for the girls studying accounting, finance and management, among other subjects, in colleges and universities.
"I married during my student life in 1989 and being a housewife with a daughter I completed my education from Dhaka University in 1996. My engineer husband and other family members provided all sorts of supports to complete my education and take up banking as a profession," she said.
Sanjeeda, who is presiding over 13 male and five female employees in her branch, said the situation has been changing gradually with generating much more interest among the girls to join banking as a profession.
Like Sanjeeda Ismail, Mahmuda Begum, Senior Assistant Vice President of the South East Bank, feels herself as a successful banker by dint of her good efforts and dedication. ""In 1995, teaching or medical practice were deemed to be suitable for the educated women. But joining a bank was a challenging decision in my life," said Mahmuda Begum, also Branch Manager of the Dhanmondi Ladies Branch of the bank.
Her father, a former official of Bangladesh Bank, encouraged her to take up this profession, which ultimately made her proud as a banker," she said adding "I am giving full efforts for building my career like a male colleague in my bank," said Mahmuda with seven female employees working under her.
Mentioning the existing environment in banks for female bankers as a suitable, she said female bankers are showing same capability like their male colleagues and the management also is offering same facilities for both the male and female officials.
Anis A Khan, Chairman of Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB), said the role of women bankers in the sector is laudable as they have dedication in their work and they always maintain office time properly. "Even, on the hartal day, the women bankers remain present at the office," he added.
Also Managing Director of the Mutual Trust Bank Limited, Khan said about 21 percent of the total employees of his bank is women and their performance is as good as that of the male ones.
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has taken a number of initiatives to make the environment of the banking sector female-bankers' friendly, said Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Subhankar Saha.
BB has also directed all banks to maintain a dedicated desk by female banker to look after loan -related issues of women entrepreneurs of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), he added.