We have recently started sending our workers to the Asian University for Women in the hopes that acquiring a graduate level of education will further enhance their careers and help them attain better standards of living.
Rubana Huq is the Managing Director of Mohammadi Group. She has been in the position for almost two decades, actively empowering over seven thousand women in the industry. The group exports a million pieces of ready-made garments every month of which women manufacture 75%. She is also the Chairperson of Sharaf Memorial Trust, an entity that runs two schools for the children of the workers of the factories. Apart from her corporate entity, Rubana launched a literary magazine, Monsoon Letters, with Bangladeshi writers. She is the founder of the Bangladesh chapter of FOSWAL (Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, based in Delhi) and formed the WRITE Foundation, which hosted its first SAARC Literary Summit in February 2014. Rubana is also a poet, having won the SAARC literary award in 2006. She is also a PhD candidate at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. Rubana had been selected as one of the 100 Women of the World by BBC for 2013 and 2014.
There are a considerable number of women employed in the garments industry. However, they are not commonly employed in the more prominent positions. What is your opinion on this?
Though there is still much progress that needs to occur in terms of women in the workforce, the RMG sector has significantly changed the scenario of women’s employment in Bangladesh. Literacy is the key element to helping these women progress from behind the sewing machines to creating a corporate identity.
What is the difference between the women of our country when compared to the women in other parts of the world?
One should not compare the conditions or dynamics of women in the East with those of the West given that the cultural landscape is extremely different. Women in the West have less social pressures, greater access to education and a greater degree of freedom. Since the social baggage is to a lesser extent and education is also at a better level, they have an advantage over women who are swamped by financial and social burdens. A growing majority of women in our country have financial and social burdens in the context of a third world country.
Women are obtaining low tier jobs and those that are highly educated are able to obtain the higher-level job. On the other hand, this phenomenon is not apparent in the mid-level jobs. What is the reason behind this?
This is a matter of literacy. A few years back, I can recall an instance when eight female operators were promoted to supervisors after I had explained their competency to the managers in our company. In order to receive any further promotion, they must graduate; most of these women have not continued their education beyond grade 12. We have recently started sending our workers to the Asian University for Women in the hopes that acquiring a graduate level of education will further enhance their careers and help them attain better standards of living.
You are affiliated with the Literary Club, Monsoon Letters and the social organization, Jaago Bangladesh as well as other social organizations. You have written about the development of women based on your research. Can you elaborate upon your findings?
The penultimate aspect of development is self-respect and self-esteem. Women must know how to value their own spirit and worth. They must acknowledge the significance of their worth in society regardless of their economic status. It is not possible to go forward without self esteem.
It does not matter from which economic strata they come from; just being a woman is worthy of honor.
Whom would you say has made the most major contribution in helping with your success in life as an entrepreneur?
The definition of success is relative. However, whatever little I have achieved has been through the contributions of my husband and my children.