From teaching the economics and conducting research on economic issues to formulating and promoting trade policies, women have come up with a leadership position in some leading institutes and national bodies in the country.
Take the example of Professor Dr Nazma Begum who is the first ever woman chairperson of the Department of Economics in the 96 years' history of the University of Dhaka. She joined the department in 1986 as a lecturer and assumed the post of chairperson in 2015. For last 30 years, she has been teaching mainly macroeconomics and development. Dr Nazma also encourages students and young faculties on research and analytical works. Her research works include privatisation, ready-made garment industry and women's employment. Being a caring and dedicated teacher she has donated Tk 0.6 million to set up the Dr Nazma Begum Trust Fund to support meritorious students of economics.
When it comes to leading research in economics, one of the most pronounced names in our country is Dr Rushidan Islam Rahman. She was one of the research directors of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) who very recently retired. A Ph.D. from the Australian National University, she taught economics at the University of Jahangirnagar before joining the BIDS. She is now leading a new think-tank named Centre for Development and Employment Research (CDER) as its executive chairperson. Main focus of her research work includes macroeconomics, labour market dynamics and employment, microfinance, agriculture and rural development, empowerment of women and skill development. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Bangladesh Bank and has served as a member of many national policy making bodies and advisory committees.
When it comes to leading research institutionally, the latest addition to the list is Dr Fahmida Khatun who was appointed Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) last month. A PhD in Economics from the University College London in the UK with her Post-Doctoral degree from the Earth Institute of Columbia University in the USA, Dr Fahmida joined CPD in 2002 as a research fellow and her research experience is vast. She has been working extensively on macroeconomic policy and management, international development finance, aid effectiveness, international trade, social inclusion and poverty eradication, climate change, green economy and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr Fahmida has served and also serving as a member in several national and international policy making bodies in various capacities.
In the area of the country's tariff and trade policy formulation, the name of Ms Mushfeka Ikfat, the current chairperson of Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC), also comes to the fore. She joined the Bangladesh Civil Service in 1983 and served at different government departments before joining the BTC in 2016. As a BTC chairperson, she is also the designated authority of Safeguard Measures, Anti-Dumping Duties and Countervailing Measures. BTC is officially entrusted to advise the government on formulating the tariff policy along with export and import policies. Ms Mushfeka Ikfat, who is also a senior secretary, is leading the BTC to work for protecting genuine interests of the local industries and promote competition in the production.
As the export of merchandise goods of Bangladesh is gradually rising and Bangladeshi exporters are also exploring new markets, the role of the national trade promotion body becomes more important. Ms Mafruha Sultana is now leading the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) as vice-chairman and also the chief executive officer (CEO).