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‘Tough for female entrepreneurs to make decisions independently’

The interference of male family members is hindering women entrepreneurs from making independent decisions in businesses females had founded, experts said yesterday.

They added that this predominantly exists in our society despite big words about the eradication of gender discrimination.

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"It's tough for female entrepreneurs to make independent business decisions," said Syeda Lutfunnahar, director of Women in E-commerce Trust.

"Males often intervene in businesses run by women, which is a major setback for us."

She added: "I know a woman who was fully prepared to launch a business. She bought products and set up all the other things. But, at the last moment, her husband told her not to start the business. The husband said that if his wife sold products, it would be an insult to him."

She was speaking at a discussion titled "She means business: Empowering woman entrepreneurs", organised by the Women's Forum of Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI)

BMCCI President Syed Almas Kabir said female entrepreneurs faced unique challenges in the business world, including limited access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. The BMCCI Women's Forum aims to provide opportunities to women entrepreneurs in these areas.

Haznah Md Hashim, Malaysian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, said Bangladesh is a role model for the world in terms of female empowerment.

"Bangladesh shows strong resilience towards women while ensuring the participation of women in every stratum of Bangladesh's society and economy," she said.

In her opinion, the existing good relationship between Bangladesh and Malaysia can become deeper and more fruitful by organising such programmes since Malaysia also believes in female empowerment and ensures women's inclusion in Malaysia's digital economy.

She hoped the BMCCI would recognise the unique challenges that women face in the business world and empower women entrepreneurs, promote gender equality and drive economic growth.

Naznin Nahar, president of e-Cab Women's Forum, said women should understand business and the challenges it presents before diving in. "Digital literacy and other skills are important for women to sustain in business," she said.

The president of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Selima Ahmad, MP was present as special guest.

Nadia Binte Amin, president of the Women Entrepreneurs Network for Development Association (WEND), Khadija Mariam, Head of women entrepreneur cell, BRAC Bank, TARA, also attended.