Rokia Afzal Rahman is one of the most famous Bangladeshi icons of woman empowerment. On the 9th episode of IPDC 'Ogroj' on Thursday, she reflected on her journey from being the first woman bank manager of the country to being a well-known entrepreneur, an advisor to the former caretaker government, while paving the way for women with drive and determination.
Rahman started her career in a commercial bank in 1962, at a time when very few women had entered the banking sector globally. By 1964, she became the first woman bank manager of the country. In 1980, Rokia ventured into the agro-based industry where she worked with 15,000 small farmers who needed support during the harvesting season, reads a press release.
Her firm commitment to affect substantive societal change led her to become the former adviser to the Government of Bangladesh in charge of the Ministry of Women and Children, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Social Welfare, and Ministry of Culture.
With time, Rokia made her mark in diverse sectors like media, insurance, real estate, and the power sector. She is the chairperson of Mediaworld Limited, a subsidiary of Transcom Group, which also consists of the renowned English newspaper, The Daily Star.
Actively involved in several associations, Rokia conducted surveys to identify constraints faced by women entrepreneurs and to explore potential areas of investment, subsequently launching various innovative programmes to develop the entrepreneurial spirit in women.
She has maintained a strong collaboration with the Ministry of Planning, Government of Bangladesh, and associations like Women Entrepreneurs' Association (WEA), Women in Small Enterprises (WISE), Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (BFWE), and several other renowned NGO's where she is a board member. She is also the Founder Chairman of Presidency University and former Chairperson of Asian University for Women.
Her notable presence in international development platforms includes her membership of the Business Advisory Council at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission Asia and Pacific, and her membership of South Asia Women's Network. In 1991, she was recognized as one of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World in Monte Carlo; in 2003, she was presented the Businessperson of the Year award by the American Chamber; she also received the Priyadarshani Award in India.
During the event, managing director and CEO of IPDC Finance Limited, Mominul Islam stated, "Through Ogroj, IPDC intends to initiate a digital memoir on the narratives of these protagonists from post-independent Bangladesh. Rokia Afzal Rahman is indeed the epitome of women's empowerment who has shown to the world the impact of women leaders and their unparalleled capacity to successfully build institutions and economies."
Ogroj is a webinar series broadcast live from the official IPDC Facebook page every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month. Anis A Khan, a prominent figure in the country's banking sector, conducts the event.