Bangladesh's journey of five decades since its independence in 1971 from a 'bottomless basket' to a developing country has been enviable. The independence, earned through nine months of a bloody war and sacrifice of three million lives, was also actively participated in by women. A commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Bangladesh independence will remain incomplete if we forget to pay tribute to all those women who fought for our independence as sisters in arms and made supreme sacrifices for the independence of the country.
In the past 20 years, Bangladesh as made significant strides in improving lives of women and girls with maternal mortality rates falling, fertility rate declining and greater gender parity in school enrolment.
Despite the progress, according to USAID, 82 percent of married women suffer gender-based violence, and limited access to finance prevents women from achieving their full potential. Women's participation in the workforce still largely remains limited to low-paying sectors, and even today, 59 percent of girls are getting married before the age of 18.
However, according to UN reports, although women have made important inroads into political office across the world, their representation in national parliaments at 23.7 percent is still far from parity. It is now universally accepted that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. As Bangladesh is dreaming to become a middle income country in 2024 and a developed country by 2041, achieving that is only possible with the development of women.
Eastern Bank Limited always believes in women empowerment and has been designing products and services to suit the needs of women entrepreneurs. For example, EBL Mukti Loan promises access to single digit collateral free finance for women entrepreneurs for varying levels of credit.
EBL Women Banking is committed not only to unleash the potential of women entrepreneurs but also regularly organising advising and consultancy services for skill development, to give women in the workforce access to finance. To help the women entrepreneurs grow their business, EBL Women Banking has a wide range of finance facilities starting from personal loan, professional loan to SME loan. For example, EBL Ovilashi offers interest bearing current account for female run businesses; starting with an account opening balance of only Tk 5000, and includes fee waiver in business documentation services, special discount on membership fee for BWCCI and CWCCI, e-commerce and f-commerce based buy/sell platform, a complimentary booklet with entrepreneurial guidelines and access to capacity building and skill development trainings as well.
Through our plethora of products and 360 degree unparalleled banking services, we continue to build strong relationships with our female clients. Women clients can find their solutions to all their banking requirements at just a mouse click away, on our fully digitalized platform. Services ranging from savings account exclusively designed for women, to credit card, debit card designed from women's daily necessities and so on are all easily accessible. For addressing all the needs of women entrepreneurs, EBL Women Banking has its very own one stop solution where clients are offered integrated business management training.
EBL Women Banking has recently published a comprehensive guidebook featuring issues from banking and business management to digital marketing assistance, online marketing and how to participate in fairs and product exhibition etc.
EBL firmly believes that to partner initiatives towards Bangladesh's economic growth, greater participation of women in business and workforce must be encouraged. As an organisation, EBL pledges to provide all sorts of banking support towards Bangladeshi women, to boost their contribution to the economy, and help achieve the country's dream of becoming a developed nation.