USAID’s AUHC activity and Surjer Hashi Network (SHN) jointly organised a panel discussion to celebrate female champions in the health sector and its contribution to empowering women in Bangladesh marking Women's Day.
Shaila Purvin, CEO of Surjer Hashi Network, Parvez Mohammad Asheque, chief of party, USAID AUHC project, the facilitator of the panel discussion, Professor Rubina Hamid, chairperson of the SHN Board of Directors, Dr Farhana Akhter, project management specialist (Maternal and Newborn Health) USAID/ Office of Population, Health and Nutrition, Zahida Fizza Kabir, CEO, Sajida foundation, Rubaba Dowla, CEO Pulse digital healthcare, MD & CEO - Oracle Bangladesh along with other USAID representatives, dignitaries from the development, humanitarian, and donor organisations private foundations, start-ups, and SHN staffs were present at the programme.
Professor Rubina Hamid, chairperson of the SHN Board of Directors said, “It goes without saying that women work side by side with the men but now we have proved to contribute in a bigger manner in all the sectors not only in the health care sector. So it’s a nice way to celebrate our women’s contribution but there will be a day coming when we will celebrate Men’s Day too.”
“The clinic managers of all the Surjer Hashi Network are the true champions. I appreciate their service and contribution to empowering the marginalized women of Bangladesh in different communities,” she added.
Five Surjer Hashi Clinic Managers namely Rikta Roy, Rowshan Ara Khanom, Rebeka Sultana, Afsana Khatun and Sultana Begum were awarded crests by the CEO of Surjer Hashi Network Shaila Purvin.
After the ceremony of honouring Clinic managers with crests, the panel discussion started with the four panellists awarding of the crests — Zahida Fizza Kabir, Dr Farhana Akhter, Shaila Purvin, Rubaba Dowla and host Parvez Mohammad Asheque.
CEO of Sajida Foundation Zahida Fizza Kabir stated during the discussion, ‘The world I’m involved with, I see many community health workers going around villages and impacting thousands of lives. Women caregivers, workers, and nurses are mostly so humble and come from a good background with minimal education yet make a difference in other people’s lives and are so confident.”
“Such moments are very rewarding but each time I also feel that there’s a lot more to be done. Those are the women who are coming forward despite the challenges that they have which is satisfying and encouraging,” she also said.
Dr Farhana Akhter, project management specialist, USAID/ Office of Population, Health and Nutrition said, ‘It is indeed impactful to see 50 years since independence when women and children have healthcare services in their community for the first time. I am proud of the work I am doing in terms of making a difference in the availability of healthcare services across the country.”
“Of course, there is a lot more work to be done. It is exciting to see USAID, the Ministry of Health and Family welfare, community, local and governments cooperating with each other to build the health service sector more precisely,” she added.
“Women are powerful. Once the platform is there and we take on responsibility, we do it well and take care of our work and our children. We don’t plan on stopping to care, we will move forward with our women,” said Shaila Purvin.
“The contribution of women in the healthcare sector is immense as can be observed not only in SHN but healthcare overall in Bangladesh. Most of the staff of Surjer Hashi Clinics are women and we have been working with them continuously for a long time without any obstacles,” she also said.
CEO of Pulse digital healthcare, MD & CEO - Oracle Bangladesh Rubaba Dowla said, “If talk about the challenges of fostering female leaders and I was to sum it up into a few points I would say the first would be the unconscious bias that we have. No one can make judgments or decisions on the basis of our prior experience, our own personal deep-seated thought patterns.”
“So women have to sacrifice something at some point because you can never have a 50-50 balance in life always between family and work. The second thing would be I want to give equal opportunity but where is the pipeline?” she added.
“If I am hiring I want equal numbers of applicants but what I see is 1 woman while there are more than 10 men applicants. So we have to work for the pipeline from the school level. Thirdly, women need to do networking, look at how men are networking. So women must build and keep in with networking,” she also said.
The audience took part in the Q&A discussions, as did the moderator Parvez Mohammad Asheque on women’s contribution and their experiences vis-à-vis the career transitions.
‘Women Rise’ is presented by USAID’s Advancing Universal Health Coverage (AUHC) in Bangladesh and is helmed by Chemonics International Inc.
AUHC’s mandate is to contribute to universal health coverage in Bangladesh through a sustainable and vibrant private-sector healthcare network.
With that in view, AUHC has been supporting the establishment and strengthening of the ‘Surjer Hashi’ Network in Bangladesh over the last five years under this USAID-supported activity.