January 2018

CEMS Global, one of the leading Multinational Exhibition organizer operating across 3 continents and The Sub-Council of Textile Industry, CCPIT (CCPIT-TEX), under the leadership of China Council for Promotion of International trade, one of the leading  International textile and apparel trade shows in China; have the pleasure to jointly announce the organizing of the `13th Dhaka International Yarn & Fabric Show 2018 – Winter Edition’ (13th DIFS 2018 Winter Edition) to be held from 31st January to 3rd February at International Convention Centre Bashundhara (ICCB), Dhaka, Bangladesh. The event will be one of the many joint endeavors between CEMS-Global & CCPIT-TEX.

Over 350 exhibitors from over 21 countries around the world will present their up-to-date fabrics, which is ready-to-use for garment, accessories, industrial use and other various applications. The `13th DIFS 2018- Winter Edition’ will cater to the requirements of the ever-growing Garment Industry of Bangladesh. It will be a one-stop biggest marketplace of Bangladesh for textile business as well as presenting the latest fabrics and trends.

CEMS Global has been proudly organizing exhibitions & recently celebrated its 25 years of inception last year. Based in New York, which hosts the group’s headquarters; the branches of CEMS Global’s expanded offices are operated in the following countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia & Brazil. CEMS Global organizes over 40 exhibitions every year on a global scale.

CCPIT TEX, which had been established in 1988, is under the leadership of China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC). With the mission of promoting communication and business cooperation between Chinese textile and apparel industry and international industry counterparts and business community, CCPIT TEX has gained global reputation for her professionalism and excellent networking in the industry.

Also, the concurrent exhibition, the ‘2nd Dhaka Denim Show 2018 Winter Edition International Expo’ which will held at ICCB from 31st January – 3rd February 2018 shall be a great avenue for drawing huge visitors from the ever expanding Denim industry of Bangladesh. The ‘2nd Dhaka Int’l Denim Show 2018’ will be a marketplace for denim business as well as presenting the latest fabrics and trends of this industry.

As the third concurrent exhibition, the 30th Dye+Chem Bangladesh 2018 – Winter Edition will be held at ICCB from 31st January – 3rd February 2018.  This exposition will focus on  its  colossal  industry  of  Bangladesh & will once  again  be  the  most  prestigious  and  exclusive International  Exhibition  devoted  to  focus  on  all  kinds  of  Dyes  and  Fine  &  Specialty  Chemicals for  the  Bangladesh  Industry  and   will  be  a  one-stop  single  platform  to  showcase  from  home and abroad the latest developments and emerging technology for the Process Industry.

The 13th Dhaka International Yarn & Fabric Show 2018—Winter Edition’ is a part of CEMS Global’s Yarn & Fabric series of exhibitions being held in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Brazil. These 3 exhibitions-in-one go will target the entire business community will play an important role by assembling Worldwide Technology, Machinery and Material manufacturers at the doorsteps of the Bangladeshi Manufacturers. The manufacturers will be apprised of the latest developments and technology available enabling Bangladesh to further compete in the highly competitive World market.

The Exhibition Media Partners are: Daily Star, Shomokal; Magazine partners : Apparel Views Bangladesh Ltd., Ice Business Times, Textile Today, Textile Focus; Broadcasting partner : Independent TV; Radio Partner: Radio Today; Hospitality Partner : At Earth Bangladesh; Creative Partner : Market Edge Ltd. IT Partner : AAMAR Technology

The Expo will be open for Trade & Public visitors from 10:30 AM to 07:30 PM daily on registration at Expo venue. To visit this exhibition, you are requested to Pre-Registration by www.e-registrations.com.

On 12 January 2018, JCI Dhaka West signed an MOU with The Gallery, which will work as photography and videography partner for 2018 in all social and community development events of JCI Dhaka West. This endeavor will enable the organization to extend their support to JCI Dhaka West in creating widespread awareness about various social issues with the help of JCI’s signature events.The President of JCI Dhaka West, Mehedi Hossain and the CEO of The Gallery, AHM Shazli were present in the signing event along with other members.

JCI Dhaka West is a chapter of JCI Bangladesh. JCI is a worldwide membership-based nonprofit organization of young active citizens’ ages 18 to 40 who are dedicated to creating positive change in their communities. Through projects in 5,000 communities across more than 120 countries, members seek targeted solutions to local problems, creating a global impact.

The Gallery is a leading Photography company in Bangladeshi market. Apart from covering wedding ceremonies and corporate events, The Gallery covers different types of social programs. The Gallery has always tried to do something for the society, increase awareness on important issues through photographs as the latter is more effective in disseminating messages to the mass.

The challenges and solutions to creating equality in the workplace

During the interactive session, ‘Women in the workplace: Breaking barriers and moving forward,’ the speakers emphasized identifying the challenges in the workplace and taking measures to prevent it. The session organized by Career Solutions, an emerging company in the human resource arena, took place on 15 December 2017 in the country’s capital and addressed the day to day obstacles faced by women in their respective workplaces.
The event was divided into three segments, where the panelists first exchanged views with the journalists; attendees included representatives from different corporate organizations, human resources consultants, and students from various public and private universities.
The event commenced with its first meet-and-greet session. The segment was then followed by a panel discussion which stressed on the need for changing mindset among people to break barriers for women in the workplace.

Bottlenecks: Identifying the Source of Inequality
“It is often that women are exposed to societal and workplace practices that do not encourage growth through flexibility and the lack of podiums to share experiences as such prevents women to know how to deal with them,” postulates Afreen Zaman Khan, Lecturer at Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB).
The conversation took an exciting phase as Zarin Chowdhury, Head of Business; Munshi HR Solutions pointed out a root level cause for women having a self-made barrier inside when it comes to working head-to-head with male individuals. She further mentions, “The culture in our country promotes gender discrimination when it comes to the idea of freedom. This instills a societal barrier inside the women from a very early age preventing them from performing their best in the best possible scenarios.”
Sexism and biases in the workplace while assigning roles also hamper the performance of a woman if not addressed adequately mentioned others in the discussion.

Breakthroughs: The Way Towards Workforce Equality
As the event moved onto its next session on delivering solutions to the general problems Khadija Rehma, General Manager (Communication) of Sajida Foundation mentioned,“It is important to unlearn the preexposed culture and be more open to changes.”
With regards to that, other solutions also talked about the importance of having a liberal organizational culture that would encourage more women to work consistently. Gulsetyne Ahmed drew from her work experience in both a male and female-oriented profession as a Co-Pilot of Regent Airways and a news presenter of Bangladesh Television, “It is difficult to encourage women to come out of the conventional system and go for doing new things. A woman needs to be the best version of herself to fight against all the odds.”
The discussion not only touched the societal and cultural aspects but also brought to light the importance of women coming forward and taking the lead. Faria Ahmed, the Founder of Career Solutions also added, “We can prevent barriers through long-term strategies like vouching for government-imposed guidelines on in-house daycare facilities and flexible hours for larger organizations, just as we have done for maternity leave.” Other speakers like Samiha Chowdhury from Standard Chartered Bangladesh and Mansura Oishi of BRAC also enlightened the event with their presence. The program closed with a crest giving ceremony through which Career Solutions appreciated the presence of all their panelists, sponsors and the audience at the event.

ICE Business Times presents the 3rd episode of “Leadership Lens” featuring Lutfey Siddiqi, Adjunct Professor, National University of Singapore; Visiting Professor-in-Practice, London School of Economics and Former Managing Director, Barclays Capital and UBS Investment Bank. In this exclusive interview, he talks about the role of governance, risk management, outlook for global finance, leadership and the need for better collaboration between industry and academia. He also gives us insights into his own interests and career path.

On the chilly morning of 5th January, the newly recruited general members of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Dhaka West started their fun-filled journey with the organization through the excursion at Reverie Holiday Resort, Gazipur with the rest of the existing Members, along with the current President Mehedi Hossain.

The day started with group energizer and exciting activities, after dividing the members into six groups through the distinctive sound and dance movement. Then, they were asked to write their team strengths into own name cards. This activity showed how one can assume their powers in different random group settings. Impact talks followed this with three members sharing how they came to JCI and what they achieved over time and how they see their future regarding affecting communities.

The team then went through many icebreaking and team building sessions to create bonds amongst themselves. The members, in groups then brainstormed project ideas and presented them focusing on the UN SDGs. Teams were then formed on the best approaches to be taken forward to the GMM as project proposals. The Immediate Former Local President and National Director, Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan, following some team building activities, then took a session on the history and interesting facts of JCI. The presentation was insightful.

The daylong sessions were conducted by the EC members of JCI Dhaka West, namely, Local Executive Vice President, Shaheen Ismail; Local Vice President, Imtiaz Choudhury; Local Secretary General, Abdullah Safi; Local General Legal Counsel, Rahbeen Masuma Rabbi; Local Treasurer, Seyed Mosayeb Alam; Local Training Commissioner, Samiha Akhter and Local Directors, Shamsun Nahar and Mohammad Mukhlesur Rahman Shohag.

The induction ceremony ended with a photo shoot wearing the t-shirt of JCI Dhaka West. 2018 National President, Fayaz Atiqul Islam, Immediate Former National President, Ahmed Ashfaqur Rahman; National Vice President, Erfan Haque and National Treasurer, Mir Sahed Ali also rendered their valuable presence to elevate the morale of the members and discussed further how members could create a positive, impactful change in the society. “Excellent Start Guys,” was how 2014 Local president of JCI Dhaka West, Sarajit Baral expressed his feelings about the induction.

The myth, ‘Leaders are born,’ still haunts many. Anthony Smith adds another: “Leadership is not for everyone, nor should it be.” When designated male leaders cannot lead properly, a question naturally sneaks into the public mind: Can women redeem leadership responsibility in corporate entities? 

Female Leaders: A Global Scenario
Today, societies everywhere show male superiority in the corporate arena. Although men and women are locked in a symbiotic relationship, societies remain male-dominated and patriarchal indisposition. America that staunchly advocates women’s empowerment still seems conservative in appointing women to senior positions in a big corporate body. According to Kanter, “Women are stuck in the lower echelons of America corporations.” A study in America reveals that 85% of Fortune 500 CEOs are male. Kanter exposes, women often find themselves alone among male colleagues. For example, twenty women are seen in a three-hundred person sales force. The reality that women are not in the workforce is evident in the most gender-egalitarian nations, Sweden; only 4% of the head of boards in corporate organizations are women.

However, the male mindset seems to be altering. Research has shown that women are becoming a significant part of the workforce and the USA is an inspiring example. Meg Whitman is heading Hewlett-Packard, one of the largest PC producers. She has led the company in such a way that HP has attained “sustained profitable growth.” Mary Barra has become the Chairman and CEO of General Motors. Obama adopted a gender-neutral recruitment policy; he recruited a woman to protect his life, and also inducted women in the male-dominated Secret Service and other politically sensitive positions. Across the ocean, in China, 40% of private business entities are owned by women. Furthermore, women are contributing to the country’s GDP by creating industries.

This dynamic is surfacing across the world. In India, a woman named Gorla Rohini has been appointed Chief Justice for the first time in the Delhi High Court. A politically conservative country like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is adopting a liberal policy about women. For the first time, a woman has been approved to head National Commercial Bank Capital, a top investment bank. Reem Al-Faisal, a Saudi princess, suggests that although there is still a long way to go, women comprise 20% of the Shura Council. We also see progress in our nation. Salima Ahmed has assumed the position of the Vice-chairperson of Nitol-Niloy Group and has been able to employ hundreds of female workers. Ayesha Arefin Tumpa of Bangladesh has invented the mechanism of making artificial lungs. Women have begun to join the security forces since 2001. Many women are being recruited as drivers by private enterprises.

Traits of the Trade: Are Women Naturally Better Leaders?
Traditional roles dictate that women are suitable for jobs like cooking, housekeeping, and nursing. The irony is that males are working in these positions at international hotels and first-rate hospitals. A woman’s economic dependence upon men has allowed men to make the other gender subordinates and marginalize their social status. Men are more egocentric than women and this tendency springs from a sense of superiority of their physical strength.

We must consider the attributes of an efficient leader; these include adaptability, sympathy, empathy, compassion, tolerance, affection, love, hospitality, protectiveness, self-preserving tendency, frugality, innovativeness, forbearance, tenderness, and civility. These qualities are associated and honed by women.

Women everywhere are considered symbols of forbearance; they are noted for three Ps: patience, persuasion, and perseverance. Men being prone to adventures and exploits do not tend to foresee the perils. They focus on one task whereas women excel in rapport-building and morale-raising activities. Studies reveal that women enjoy solving corporate problems in a team, and in doing so, they interact and communicate pleasantly with team members. This quality enables them to harness human resources productively. Women inherently hold a unifying force that fosters cohesion in team members. Their inner urge to survive compels them to work with commitment. That is why Smith states, “Women have all of the tools to be leaders. So do men.” Thus it can be noted that women leaders are relations-oriented whereas male leaders are results-oriented.

Picking at the Brain
Neuro-biologists believe that women’s brain tends to link the left hemisphere with the right brain; the left is associated with logical while the right with an intuition which is related to rational thinking. This the reasons why they perform better in intuitive exercises. A question might arise – “What is intuition?” A plain way to answer is —‘Intuition is thinking without thinking’. Gurian and Annis believe women “have a greater comparative ability to hear words and to transfer what they hear, read”. They are better at multitasking, and they take workplaces as ‘extended part’ of their families. Women’s self-preserving tendency is extended to the corporate body, and they tend to protect the company’s interest. Neuroscientists have discovered male and female brains function in different manners because ‘there is 15 to 20% more blood flow in a woman’s brain and a man’s at any given time.’ This science causes the difference in approaches to paying attention or in completing a task.

The Gender Dynamic
Attributes that women mostly lack are an enterprising or risk-taking spirit, and aggressive mentality. They are flexible, and they cannot easily elicit compliance of male subordinates. They tend to depend on males for critical decisions, and Smith reminds us, ”Leadership is a function of skill and will.” Studies reveal that women have emotional intelligence, but they lack the confidence to lead. Many view women as less prompt, and less accessible. Therefore, a delay is the natural outcome in decision-making. Male supervisors allege, even if women leaders can make critical decisions, they cannot stick to them; assertiveness is lacking in them. Moreover, they cannot lead big companies. At times, women are described as less proactive, inert, introvert for which they cannot perform leadership functions efficiently. They are more reactive which stems from a sense of insecurity and of powerlessness in a male-dominated environment.

From the early days of its inception, Bangladesh has dramatically evolved out of the shell of societal barriers. The once conservative nation has now opened wings towards becoming a more progressive one. And the women of BRAC’s driving school are taking the wheel and redefining the traditional role of women. Women have now started to shatter the social stigma and found their place elsewhere alongside being a homemaker. With the help of organizations like BRAC, they are not only performing diligently as corporates but also taking up tasks like driving with dignity. ICE Business Times opens a dialogue with the women that are steering the change.

What was your motivation for choosing this profession?
This was not just a reason to work; as women of different backgrounds, we want to stand out in the crowd. Once inspired by relatives and challenged by financial situations many of us took driving lessons at CARE Bangladesh where we were taught to feel more comfortable about this new profession. Our mindsight was geared towards setting examples for the ones who spend their lives succumbed to orthodox beliefs. Driving made us feel independent and helped fight our inner fears to a great extent. So, the profession was appealing for a number of reasons. 

What Sort of Health Hazards do you often face at Work?
There isn’t much of a health hazard at work here, apart from the usual risks associated with driving and road conditions. However, once there was an accident, and people mistook my car to be the victim, and a lot of people came out to help and said upon the discovery that it isn’t always that people witness a woman driving office cars in our country.

Are the earnings from this job sufficient enough to manage your household?
Our earnings here is moderate and is sufficient enough to cover an individual’s needs. However, the same cannot be true when it comes to meeting their family needs.

What impact does this have on your family life? What improvements can be made to solve any such problems?
Sometimes it happens as such that due to unavoidable circumstances at work, we head towards home quite late. For many of us who just got married or have taken children this is a troublesome situation. It often gets difficult for us to balance both sides due the time constraint. Our working hours would be favorable if we were allowed to work at reasonable hours. This condition will motivate the existing drivers to work more efficiently and also encourage more women to join this line of work.

What is your work duration?
Many of us who have staff duties are obliged to come work in the early morning hours. Apart from that our regular shifts are generally of around 10 hours every day for five days a week. However, depending on circumstances we sometimes work on the weekends as well.

Do you work elsewhere besides this job? Why?
We work here full time, and that leaves us with no time to work elsewhere. Besides this, we also have to give time back home, and our pay here is sufficient enough for us not to look for other jobs.

Have you faced any cultural stigmas from the society or your family when you chose this profession?
For some of us coming from different conservative backgrounds. Initially, it was difficult to break the idea back home that girls are only born to manage the household and that such a profession is just restricted to men. Whereas, many of us started off with this profession with the personal consent of our family members. The rebelliousness in our thoughts and success in this field is what helped us break all stereotypes. Society has started accepting girls performing such roles way more than the way it did twenty to thirty years back, and we are glad to be a part of this change. 

*The names of the interviewees have not been included to protect their privacy.

Nurturing home grown CEOs is still a far-fetched dream. Here is what we can do about that

As ironic as it may sound, despite having an abundance of people in our pool the local high-end job market in many cases is filled by the expats recently. Is it a comedy of errors like Shakespearian classics? It is a folly created by combined sins of policy implementation and management practice which we have been pursuing over the decades. It is a gap between the market demand and our lack of capability to meet that need. It is a dichotomy.

I am trying to dissect this heart burning gap that creates a hole in our body politic. I am a bit critical to analyses this gap and trying earnestly to find out the real missing link. Why does it happen? Why are we lagging behind even our neighboring countries in this race?

We live in the age of digitization. We are living in a global village. We are far from the race, and we do not have much time to lag behind. The policy of wait and see will lead us more far back.

Let us delve into it.
Through my professional experiences, I have witnessed that even successful entrepreneur sometimes do not know how to pick the right person. Sometimes even headhunters are not well-knowledged about professional talents available in the market.

It is the missing link we are discussing. I must say there are lots of talents in Bangladesh. But we have a mindset or mentality that expats are more professional and fit for the job. To some extent that is right because, regarding professionalism and technical know-hows, they are much better than us. But if our people can learn those things they can catch up very easily and quickly. With that point of view, I must say we have a noteworthy talent pool. Miserably, we are not nurturing and grooming them properly. That is happening due to our narrow mindset, lack of succession plan, and senior management role or leadership plan in companies. There are many large companies which do not have any particular job descriptions or role profile or even the need assessment of the skillsets requiring for specific job or function. They think they will hire someone and he/she can perform automatically. but that’s not the case. Now in and around the organization, it requires multi-skilled people and some of them have to be specialized. Some are thinkers and planners, while some are performers or doers, and some do routine jobs.

Three categories of people are needed in a company. Somebody have to think and strategize the plan. Somebody has to play and score. To succeed, a company needs the right HR mix.
We live in the age of digitization. We are living in a global village. We are far from the race, and we do not have much time to lag behind. The policy of wait and see will lead us backwards.
Strangely enough, almost half of our population are youth; they will be our next leaders, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. So we need to read their minds and prepare our roadmap taking them in the right direction. The youth force is posing an endless opportunity for us. We have to empower our next generation by honoring their unique skills. They are entirely different from the peoples of two decades back. They are not the babies of Stone Age, but of Digital Age. We have to understand what makes them successful or they will be derailed. The millennial generation is very tech savvy. They wanted to find everything at their fingertips. In reality, there is a need of touch and feel otherwise they will be techno based only, and human factor will be missing. Logic is that for leadership there has to be some human aspects or combination of both. We cannot avoid technology, modernization, urbanization, digitation as well as globalization. I am talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). We have to accept these things and apply them strategically.

A lot of companies are copying models instead of strategizing their vision, mission, the requirement as well as; they do not have any value proposition.

Some companies have it only to write in their annual report. But it is not found in their practices. The companies have to live by the brand values. Why are the Multi-National companies ruling over the world? They follow their vision, mission and brand values. Corporate branding, like a human being, has its own DNA. Positive brand culture shapes the future of a corporation. If you go by the traditional culture, your company will not grow after ten years.

The essential factor is to consider the empowerment of netizens. We have to have some time-bound commitment and sincere efforts to develop our skills, e.g., leadership skills, professional skills, managerial skills and thinking skills above all human ability. In most cases, our thinking and leadership skills are missing. We only try to manage things. But the requirement is to improve through a holistic approach. In most of the cases our local companies do not have any Key Performance Index (KPI) and Policy & Processes (P&P) and quality human resources.

Indeed, we have successful CEOs but future CEOs must attain trust and loyalty as a person and should have dynamic and strategic long-term vision. Excitement shall be there, but it should satisfy their work environment; they need to excite people by motivation. There should be performing work environment, respectful employee relation and coexist with diversified people.

It is a globalized world, so we have to set up our mindset as a global manager. You have to share and transfer your thought to other persons and prepare people for implementing your dream. If you are not hiring right people, then they cannot match with your vision. You have to hire right human resources also otherwise will be negative. A company cannot grow with negative people; only passionate performers can shift a company from the conglomerate, which requires a platform to perform, and allows them to play a role rather than giving task oriented unproductive job.

We have to understand what makes them successful or they will be derailed. The millennial generation is very tech savvy. They wanted to find everything at their fingertips. In reality, there is a need of touch and feel otherwise they will be techno based only, and human factor will be missing. 

Narrow mindset coupled with lack of knowledge, sycophancy, and nepotism form a vicious cycle. To break it individuals should come forward proactively. If we go through the case study of successful people, then we see that they are patient, timely, vision-oriented, committed, dynamic and modern in thinking level. They are trying to develop themselves every day. Nevertheless, the case is not the same for us. After finishing academic courses, we think that we know everything. But the real learning starts after passing the academic course. We are not trying to upgrade ourselves.

The way forward is that everybody has to develop individually. They have to decide to have a vision, and go there; only then does it becomes a collective vision. The company should understand that besides hiring, it has a responsibility to provide training and development and give proper environment so that those resources can be used in the long run.

Last but not least, we have to be futuristic and shall count what will happen in future. Now the service sector is emerging. In the physical sector, there is an option of copy the products but not the services. In character, services are unique. Any kind of services from tourism to banking everything is unique. It may be tangible or intangible. The road to success is to create a small difference through your service branding.

Finally, it is time to recognize openly and build a relationship through collaborative efforts and inspire the future generation to grab future possibilities and minimize the missing link.

THE WRITER IS  an internationally recognized brand marketing professional

Over centuries, the world has experienced a few industrial revolutions amongst which the recent one witnessed can be termed as a digital revolution – computers, cell phones, internet, various forms of electronic social media and so on.  In fact, Figure 1 also shows that compared to the other technological advances, the speed at which the digital revolution has entered our life is just mind-boggling. For example, in the United States, it took cars more than 80 years to reach half of the country’s households, but for cell phone, it took less than ten years. Just two years after Apple shipped the first iPad, it sold 67 million units. It took 24 years to sell that many Macs, 5 years to sell that many iPods and more than three years to sell that many iPhones.

Adoption of new technologies in the United States

The pace of digital revolution is illustrated in Figure 2 for Internet use and mobile phones. Not only is the change substantial and adoption is widespread. In 2015, there were more than 7 billion mobile subscriptions, 2.3 billion people on smartphones and about 3.2 billion people connected to the Internet. Of the mobile phone users, 49% were using smartphones in 2015.

Digital technology penetration around the world between 1995 and 2015

In recent years, the digital revolution has accelerated the global production of goods and services, particularly digital trade (Figure 3). In 2014, global trade in goods reached $18.9 trillion and trade in services $4.9 trillion.

The digital revolution, the global production of goods and services, and digital trade

The knowledge-intensive portion of global flows increasingly dominates—and is growing faster than—capital- and labor-intensive flows. Today knowledge-intensive flows account for half of the global flows and are gaining share: Knowledge-intensive goods flows are growing at 1.3 times the rate of labor-intensive goods flows. As a result, the digital components of goods and services flows have also increased (Figure 4). Indeed, many products today, as demonstrated by the “app economy,” are entirely virtual. Much of the data pass through the Internet, often on smartphones.

The digital component of global flows has increased—selected examples

The current digital revolution presents unique challenges and opportunities for human development. It has changed people’s lives in every aspect – e.g., work, innovation, interaction, knowledge, business, to name a few. The digital revolution deserves attention in its right, but also because of the way it is changing human life and living.
The spread and penetration of digital technologies are changing the world of work everywhere, but the effects vary across countries according to their own social and development contexts. Some technological changes are cross-cutting, such as information and communication technologies and the spread of mobile phones and other handheld devices. Still, countries will continue to have different production and employment structures and different uses for digital technologies, mainly reflecting the relative economic weights of agriculture, industry, and services, as well as the resources invested in developing people’s capabilities. Labor markets, the ratio of paid to unpaid work and the predominant types of workplaces in each country differ—so the impacts of digital technologies on employment will vary accordingly.
The digital revolution may be associated with high-tech industries, but it is also influencing a whole range of more informal activities from agriculture to street vending. Some may be directly related to mobile devices. In Ethiopia, farmers use mobile phones to check coffee prices. In Saudi Arabia, farmers use wireless technologies to distribute scarce irrigated water for wheat cultivation carefully. In some villages in Bangladesh, female entrepreneurs use their phones to provide paid services for neighbors. Many people sell phone cards or sell and repair mobile phones across developing countries.
Mobile phones now facilitate many aspects of work through a combination of voice calls, SMS, and mobile applications. Some uses of mobile phones in agriculture are shown in Figure 3. But there are also benefits for many other types of activity, formal and informal, paid and unpaid, from food vendors in Cairo to street cleaners in Senegal to care providers in London. Mobile phone-based economic activity is likely to keep expanding rapidly. In Sub-Saharan Africa, individual mobile subscriptions are predicted to rise from 311 million in 2013 to 504 million in 2020.
The digital economy has enabled many women to access work that applies their creativity and potential. In 2013, about 1.3 billion women were using the Internet. Some have moved to e-trading as entrepreneurs, and some are employed through crowd working or e-services. But this new world of work puts a high premium on workers with skills and qualifications in science and technology, workers less likely to be women.
But one has to recognize that in spite of all the successes of the digital revolution, its promises for human well-being remains unfulfilled because of a digital divide. Even though the digital revolution has contributed substantially to human development, access to the digital revolution remains uneven, constraining the even more significant effects it could have on human lives.
Developed and developing countries: In 2015, 81% of households in developed countries had Internet access, compared with 34% in developing countries and 7% in the least developed countries.
Urban and rural areas: In 2015, 89% of the world’s urban population had 3G mobile broadband coverage, compared with 29% of its rural population.
Women and men: In 2013, 1.3 billion women (37%) and 1.5 billion men (41%) used the Internet.
Young and old: In 2013, people ages 24 and younger accounted for 42.4% of the world’s population but 45% of Internet users. In 2013 two-thirds of Twitter users aged 15–25.
Website content production: This is dominated by developed countries, which in 2013 accounted for 80% of all new domain-name registrations. Registrations from Africa were less than 1%.
Broadband coverage and variations in access to computers and smartphones could generate new forms of exclusion. Inexpensive and reliable access to the Internet is becoming imperative and constitutive for driving capabilities in other areas, such as education, work, and political participation. Access to information is crucial for high-quality education, and thus for expanding opportunities for children and youth. The biggest challenge is to make these benefits available for all people, everywhere. The digital divide, however, continues to impede universal benefits and could push those who are already deprived in other areas further behind.
Less than half the world’s population (47%) uses the Internet. In the Americas and the Commonwealth of Independent States, two-thirds of the population is online. In Europe, the rate is 79%. In contrast, only around 42% of the people in Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States are connected, and just 25% of those in Sub-Saharan Africa are users. So even though mobile subscriptions and connections in Sub-Saharan Africa are predicted to nearly double between 2013 and 2020 (Figure 5), the question remains who would benefit from it?

Mobile subscriptions and connections in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2013 and 2020

Prices in many regions make connecting prohibitive. Prices for basic mobile or fixed broadband plans, for example, are much higher in less developed countries than in the developed world, and they are highest in LDCs (Figure 6). But even in developed countries, there are digital divides.

Prices for Internet access in PPP$, 2015

To uphold standards of universalism, and to fully benefit from the opportunities that digital revolution holds for human development, striving for universal access to the products of such revolution may be in order. Combined with access to high-quality education, such universal Internet access could significantly increase opportunities and reduce inequalities everywhere.

By Selim Jahan
Director and Lead Author
Human Development Report

Spreading Positivity: Maimuna with her colleagues

In conversation with MAIMUNA AHMAD, Founder and CEO, Teach For Bangladesh

In December 2011, before Teach For Bangladesh (TFB) was born, Maimuna Ahmad took a trip from Dhaka to Pune, India. After spending the two years working as a mathematics teacher in a Washington D.C. public high school, she had moved to Bangladesh earlier that year leaving her family behind in the United States, “Growing up between Bangladesh and America, I was clear from a very early age that I would spend some part of my adult life living in and trying to contribute to Bangladesh. I moved to Dhaka initially to explore where I could personally make the most impact.” It was that drive to make an impact that took Maimuna across the border to visit classrooms in a low-income community in Pune, and led her to meet a young student named Chaitrali.
“Chaitrali exuded warmth and positive energy,” Maimuna recalls, “After volunteering to give me a tour, she instantly took my hand and was telling me about the neighborhood and how she was the manager of her school’s football team.”
The child proved to be a popular guide. Neighbors invited them into their homes and offered tea and biscuits. Finally, they arrived at Chaithrali’s house, a tiny space with meager belongings. “The contrast between this bubbly outspoken child and her home struck me immediately. Her home was a tiny dark room with a bed, stove, and a single chair. A picture of her father was hanging on the wall,” recollects Maimuna.
The teacher who had accompanied them explained that Chaithrali’s father had passed away. Chaithrali’s mother worked as domestic helper nearby and rarely came home before evening, leaving the child in charge of taking care of herself after school.
It was suddenly evident to Maimuna what was next for her, “Something just clicked. Of course, I had always known that there were tens of thousands of children just like Chaitrali being deprived of a quality education in Bangladesh. But intellectually knowing something is different from knowing something in your heart. Sometimes it can take going to a different part of the world to realize a truth that’s been at home all along. At that moment, I knew that if I were not a part of trying to make a difference in the lives of children in Bangladesh, I would regret it for the rest of my life.”
Over the next two months, Maimuna wrote the first business plan for Teach For Bangladesh, building off the model of Teach For America, the program that initially brought her into the classroom, and Teach For India, which she was visiting when she met Chaitrali. She consulted Bangladeshi educators, entrepreneurs and leaders to adapt the model – that was already gathering fast momentum globally – for the context of Bangladesh.
Five years, 4,500 students and 28 partner schools later, Maimuna has built Teach For Bangladesh into a highly selective leadership development program that recruits exceptional Bangladeshi graduates and young professionals to fight for educational equity and systemic change, starting with a two-year full-time teaching commitment to Bangladesh’s most vulnerable students.

Maimuna Ahmad

There is a common misconception that the development world is less competitive than the corporate sector, less results-oriented and less efficient because our results are measured on a different scale and because we’re not focused on generating profit. Still, we have to hold ourselves accountable for the results of our work.
Bangladesh is truly an example of what development work can achieve through vision and innovation. At Teach For Bangladesh, they continually seek global best practices and learnings in management and strategy from the corporate sector. “I am curious to know if that same flow is happening in the opposite direction, from the nonprofit world to the corporate one. For example, I know so many inspiring non-profit organizations are redefining what it means to have a values-based work culture. Sometimes I see employees in the corporates sector feel disconnected from their work, feeling like cogs in a machine. Even if generating profit is your primary target, this does not mean the work can’t be meaningful or rooted in values,” observes Maimuna.

“While we’ve made great strides in education in Bangladesh, especially in enrollment and gender parity, Bangladesh still has one of the lowest spendings in education compared to overall GDP in the world. Most children from low-income communities spend just a couple of hours in school every day.”

Maimuna is not surprised that the nonprofit sector is comprised of more women than other sectors. Women are traditionally grouped as caregivers and nurturers are assumed to have more “natural” affinity for the development sector and its “soft” mission and values. However, she think that such assumptions do a great disservice to men and women who lead courageously, open-heartedly, and fiercely in both the private and non-profit worlds.
She is proud of the fact that she work with a team of such leaders at Teach For Bangladesh, “They represent for me the greatest hope that Bangladesh has for the future. I am reminded of this hope every time I witness a strong male colleague openly shed tears while describing the challenges faced by his female students, or a strong female colleague defy social pressure and to make her own choices about career and family.” Gender norms and gender-based discrimination are deeply ingrained in most societies – she notes that ours is no exception, “As a female leader, I’ve experienced many of the challenges this brings first-hand, including being propositioned in my office by officials of one of our various national security agencies. However, change is not only possible; it is happening through everyday acts of resistance by men and women both.”

From her vantage point, one of the most significant challenges in education around the world and in Bangladesh is a crisis of expectation, “We simply do not expect greatness or excellence from children in marginalized communities the same way we expect them from children in affluent communities. You see this in the kind of research that is available out there. I haven’t found any research that compares the performance of students in the elite schools such as Sunbeams, International School of Dhaka and Viquarunessa to government primary schools or NGO schools serving low-income communities.”
Instead, we mostly compare government primary schools in cities with counterparts in rural areas. She exemplifies, ”When a child demonstrates excellence in such schools, we are surprised, and we laud the achievement as exceptional. Imagine if instead, excellence was the expectation of all students, and every time a child demonstrated excellence, this was considered further validation of the potential of all children. I believe that such a re-orientation would drive radical change in our classrooms, our communities, and our nation.”
She commends Bangladesh on its progress, “While we’ve made great strides in education in Bangladesh, especially in enrollment and gender parity, Bangladesh still has one of the lowest spendings in education compared to overall GDP in the world. Most children from low-income communities spend just a couple of hours in school every day. Until we as a society change our expectation that all children have not only the ability to achieve greatness but also the right to equal opportunity, it will be hard to drive sustainable systemic change.”

Maimuna’s deepest wish is to raise a generation of brave children, “I want every child to have an unshakeable belief in themselves, and for that belief to drive them to take risks. This mentality includes intellectual risks in the classroom – venturing to solve a math problem in a different way than the teacher taught, or writing a haiku when asked to describe the characteristics of a cow. This includes risks outside of the classroom – in standing up for their beliefs, in making friends with people who are different, and creating the change that they want for themselves.”
She points out that TFB Fellows encounter tragic scenarious, “Our Fellows work within communities where they come across stories of abuse, prostitution, rape, pregnancy and child marriage. They integrate community advocacy into their classroom content and afterschool activities so our students learn to be changemakers.” Recently, TFB showcased some of the projects that Fellows are implementing to encourage boys and girls to speak up against social injustices in their communities, “As a teacher, you build the most effective change when your students speak up for themselves,” she affirms.

She was fortunate enough to have been surrounded by strong adults who encouraged her to pursue excellence from a very young age, “While the strong female role models I had in my life like my incredible mother and brilliant grandmothers, the men in my family also played a significant role. I remember from a very early age being encouraged to participate in discussions and debates that adults would have in our home – on every topic from politics to the economy.” When children experience adults engaging them with respect and encouragement, it is deeply validating and builds the foundation for confident adults, “When I was starting Teach For Bangladesh and had doubts about my qualifications and experience, an uncle gave me the push I needed by telling me that the “right” leader for any job is the one who is willing to show up every day to do the hard work.”

At Teach For Bangladesh, Maimuna and her team are launching a new program called the School Leadership Residency this January for high-performing alumni of their Fellowship who are interested in reimagining how schools in Bangladesh work. Residents will be spending a year embedded in low-income schools not just in Dhaka, where Fellows currently work, but in rural and remote parts of Bangladesh, working very closely with the head teachers and the existing teachers to think about what it takes to turn around the way a school operates, “I’m hoping those who come out of this intensive experience are going to accelerate their leadership as innovative starters of schools, trainers of teachers, policymakers who reinvent entirely the way you think about schools and school leadership.” Maimuna concludes sharing the future goals with IBT, “Plus, we are also expanding our flagship Fellowship beyond Dhaka to Chittagong and are currently recruiting our sixth cohort who will begin teaching in classrooms in 2019.”

Safety Comes First: Zaiba with her students

In conversation with Zaiba Tahyya, CEO & Founder, FEM

Working in the field opened Zaiba’s eyes to the disparity that is the everyday reality for women, “As a 19-year-old attending college it dawned on me that I was living a very sheltered life. I was studying criminology, and I wanted to do an internship in my field. I knew that this would give me a much greater sense of reality.”
She had applied to BLAST (Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust) and researched women and rape. She details how every day would ensue with some shocks, “I would have breakdowns every day when I came home. My mother told me to leave the internship if I was going to be this depressed. But I was determined to see this through. I felt like I owed it to the women who face such atrocities and live with it.”
The most disturbing detail of her research came to light as she was interviewing a judge, “When we sat to speak I noticed that woman’s nipple size was recorded in the medical file that the judge was examining. I inquired as to why this was necessary not knowing that his answer would leave me in such a shock.” He explained that this was necessary because the victim’s attractiveness would come into question; the prosecuting lawyer could argue that she is not desirable and therefore the perpetrator would not want to engage in any sexual act with her. Zaiba explains that the story still makes her emotional while motivating her, “I was utterly shocked as the judge went on to tell me that the defendant’s lawyers could then show her measurements to prove that she was desirable. Here was a woman that was violated and her physical appearance was coming into questions here. I knew at that moment that I needed to be a part of a world where women can stand up for themselves.”
Zaiba has taken the realities of her research and created a haven for young girls in Korail, the largest slum in Bangladesh. Within the narrow alleys, tin lined houses and hustling of thousands of people, you’ll see the FEM school empowering young girls of today to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Zaiba Tahyya

One of the first activities that FEM teach its girls is to ride a bicycle. Some people wonder why this is relevant, but Zaiba believes that this is just as important for their mental stability. Learning to ride a bike is traditionally associated with boys; when girls master the trade, they are motivated to compete with their counterparts. These activities allow many of the girls to let out some of the aggression and frustration from their past experiences of inequality or even abuse.
“The main reason that we teach them self-defense is because there are a lot of mental awareness programs but not enough preventative measure. I know we cannot easily change the mentality for the age-old narrative of a girl being at the wrong place at the wrong time or wearing desirable clothing. This dynamic goes back to the implication that women are weak. Our lessons start with learning how to block. We teach them how to jab, punch and various kicks but these are defense mechanisms. We want them to be able to defend themselves and stop any form of abuse,” she explains. The lessons inspired some of the girls, and they did stand up against a local tailor that was harassing them. The fact that they were able to stand up creates visibility which is a strength. If they can show this power, men and boys alike will be hesitant.

“The main reason that we teach them self-defense is because there are a lot of mental awareness programs but not enough preventative measure. I know we cannot easily change the mentality for the age-old narrative of a girl being at the wrong place at the wrong time or wearing desirable clothing.”

A study has shown that if educators emphasize math and science in classrooms, girls are more likely to take on leadership roles. Zaiba wants girls to aspire to be engineers, governing bodies and CEOs. They prioritize teaching these subjects, “I have been to many organizations that have to teach girls how to make jewelry or train them in arts and crafts. Yes, these subjects are necessary and can lead to a career, but I feel like they are also very limiting.” This mentality leads to many girls think that their best and sometimes their only options are crafts that can be made at home, “When you merely teach them these skills, you are perpetuating the stereotype that has been in play. An eclectic range of subjects allows them to know that they have choices.”

Girls at FEM learn English with particular attention, and one would be astonished at how that empowers them. They know that English is an international language that they are not customarily taught; command of the language motivates in the sense that they receive an education beyond what they would have expected. It allows them to think beyond their boundaries, “We want them to know that they are entitled to everything that their potential can bring them.”
This very idea inspired Zaiba’s team to teach them circuits and electronics. The girls learned how to make low-cost fire alarms with a temperature sensor, “We focused on making these alarms because Korail is more prone to fires and making this alarms gave the girls a greater sense of purpose in their community. We wanted this mentality to transcend into their homes once they took the alarms there. We hoped to show their families that these girls are just as capable as their fathers, and brothers,” postulates Zaiba. Once you create an environment that fosters and empowers girls as equals you’ll see a change in the community.

“I wanted to focus on a self-sustainable model from the beginning. I remember asking for funding from a particular organization. They responded by telling me that they would not fund a project in a slum. Furthermore, they had no visibility in that specific area, and therefore it would serve no purpose for them,”details Zaiba about the funding difficulties she faced. It is important to build relationships with beneficiaries that care about your cause. She wants to show that FEM can be indepedent, “Nevertheless, when you demonstrate that you can run on your own, that shows a sustainable stance. We charge our students a very minimal fee to keep FEM running.”

Zaiba articulates that the challenges of a becoming a female CEO go back to the ideas of Darwin’s survival of the fittest. The mentality that men are the most suitable regarding vocational work is the most significant barrier.
Draw from my own experience, she mentions, “I was never taken seriously when I would tell people that I am a CEO of a development sector. Even women would categorize my work into teaching girls, and they would say that my job is gender appropriate. I refuse to adhere to their being a gender for any job because intellect and capability are not a matter of sexes.” Moreover, this concept that women have an age-appropriate timeline for events in there is a conservative notion. Marriage, children, education and career paths are choices and the time should not be a determining factor. She believes women are the ones who suffer abuse, violation, and crime in a different sense than men which makes them more equipped to tackle such challenges.