Inclusion of more women in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is needed for their better financial inclusion, said sector experts on Tuesday at an event marking International Women's Day.
The Access to Information (a2i) Programme under Prime Minister's Office organised the discussion titled "Minimising Digital Divide for Women to Ensure Sustainable ICT Development" at Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) auditorium in the city.
A total of nine women entrepreneurs were honoured at the ceremony for their achievements in various fields.
State Minister of ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said the government is working to bring more women into mainstream economics.
"There are various programmes in the ICT sector dedicated to helping women move forward. Some 15,000 women have been recruited in the police force in the last 13 years," he added.
Zuena Aziz, principal coordinator (SDG Affairs) at Prime Minister's Office, said, "When it comes to taking loans in the economic sector, I have not heard anyone accusing a woman of defaulting."
It is necessary to increase the participation of women in the technology sector and more recruitment is needed for that to happen, she said.
"The fourth industrial revolution is imminent and no development will take place bypassing the ICT. So, there will be more investment for women in this sector," Zuena added.
Mentioning that only a few of the country's ICT companies are led by women, Supreme Court Advocate Barrister Farzana Mahmood said, "Bangladesh's e-commerce business has expanded rapidly and so has the number of women entrepreneurs."
However, cyberbullying and harassment against women have also increased at an alarming rate, the lawyer added.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Country Economist Dr Nazneen Ahmed said that the capacity of women in the economic sector should be improved.
"All must work with the government to cut down discrimination against women," she added.
Nahid Sultana Mallik, joint project director (joint secretary) of a2i Programme in the ICT Division, said, "Union Digital Centre (UDC), one-stop rural service outlet, has been introduced to implement the Digital Bangladesh vision. These centres are not only empowering women but also creating women entrepreneurs."
Some 5,500 women have already received training under the Women ICT Frontiers Initiative (WIFI) programme which aims to promote women's participation and empowerment in the ICT sector, she added.
NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary of ICT division, and Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor of a2i Programme of ICT Division, also spoke at the event.