Speech by High Commissioner on the occasion of Graduation Ceremony of All About Soft Skills Programme on 20 July 2022 at 1600 Hrs Statements & Speeches

Speech by High Commissioner on the occasion of Graduation Ceremony of All About Soft Skills Programme on 20 July 2022 at 1600 Hrs

Speech by High Commissioner on the occasion of Graduation Ceremony of All About Soft Skills Programme on 20 July 2022 at 1600 Hrs

Your Excellency, ICT Minister, Zunaid Ahmed Palak,

Distinguished Guests,

President of Women and E-Commerce Trust, Nasima Aktar Nisha, Sheikh Lima, Rizawana Akhter, Kabir Shakib & Tashfiqul Khan,

Mr Saumya Basu of Silk Oak,

Mr Altaf Hossain, PD of IDEA; Priyo Bonera; Sangbadik Bhoira.

Namaskar, Shubho Shondhya, Assalamalaikum,

  1. Thank you for inviting me to participate in this valedictory function to mark the Graduation of trainee entrepreneurs from the All About Soft Skills Program.
  1. For my colleagues and I in the High Commission, it is a matter of great satisfaction to have been involved with such a meaningful program that has directly benefitted – and I hope improved - the lives of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. The evidence that we have seen of women entrepreneurs having not only composed their first e-mails in English and making interactions but also striking high-value contracts in sophisticated markets faraway from South-Asia are truly inspiring. If every one of the over 700 women who participated in this program have benefitted even partially, I would consider that our time, energy, and resources have been truly well-spent.
  1. A special thank you therefore to Saumya Basu who has shown that important as money is, there are three things that are truly invaluable: commitment, passion, and a deep sense of empathy for the entrepreneurial and dynamic women whose creative energies only needed orientation and focussing.
  1. I am also grateful to my colleagues in the High Commission, including some who have completed their assignment and left Bangladesh, for their vision in recognizing the value of this program and the importance for our High Commission to support it, including through funding and also the use of our cultural centre to facilitate in-person and hybrid classes for the seven sets of workshops that constituted this first series. We were honoured to go beyond the traditional route of merely being donors by also being hosts for these workshops at our facilities at the High Commission.
  1. I also thank the ICT Ministry, in particular the dynamic and far-sighted ICT Minister, my good friend, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, because we would not have been able to easily partner "Women and E-commerce" had it not been for the support of Minister Palak and his Ministry. I hope that IDEA Project of ICT Ministry, which has clearly seen the value of this effort, will be able to come on-board for the next set of programs, and to offer meaningful support as convenient and feasible to the Ministry. We would also be ready to continue to support this even if the model changes from the current bilateral arrangement between our High Commission and "Women and e-Commerce" to a wider partnership which gives ICT Ministry and even Silk Oak more public recognition and stakes.

Friends,

  1. This project is relevant not only because of its excellent content, but also because of the timing.
  1. The 50th Anniversary of Bangladesh's Liberation - and 50 years of our partnership - as well as 75 years of India's Independence commemorate essentially the same fundamental idea of freedom, equality of opportunity, and emancipation of all people in our ancient and diverse region. This project is meaningful because it precisely replicated those very goals, namely emancipation, equality of opportunity, and empowerment especially of women. As we know, focusing on empowerment of women is the best means of transforming not just a family but a society and a nation. This effort has been inspirational because it has made best use of technology to liberate the creative and entrepreneurial energies of women, helping challenge patriarchy from within, while ensuring that women can not only realize their fullest potential but also provide for their families in a manner consistent with traditional Bengali culture that has always accorded primacy to the role of women in society. This has also been timely because the initiative and the course leverages the progress made by 'Digital Bangladesh', and by the vision of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in promoting the values of an inclusive Bangladesh, in which women are empowered to contribute to nation-building.
  1. Most crucially, it is a matter of great satisfaction that even the process through which these workshops were conducted was quite brilliant, as it leveraged the popularity of Facebook and social media in this country building upon "Women and E-commerce's" wide social media reach, as reflected in social media engagement for each session at an average of over 10,000 persons, and with a first session that touched nearly 20,000 viewers.

        Last, let me say a few things to the ladies who have graduated from All About Soft Skills:

  • (i)As Saumya Basu said, practice makes perfect. No matter how much you know, you'll need practice and rehearsal to consolidate your skills and learnings. While it is natural that you will want to move to the next step soon, remember that you need to master what you learnt.
  • (ii)Originality and authenticity: We need to remember that no matter how well-designed and effective the presentation, nothing is better than an original and authentic voice. I am sure you will see this in you businesses or dealings with Government entities.
  • (iii)Finally, honesty. While Google and 'cut and paste' can speed up your work, an honest and innovative solution is always better. Have faith in your authentic and honest voice, and you will see that God does reward authenticity.

Friends,

  1. All in all, this program - entitled "All About Soft Skills", showcased the soft power of technology to empower women, as well as the soft power of women to transform themselves into entrepreneurs at a global scale in a manner that will transform South Asian societies in an evolutionary manner, which is, I believe more lasting than the revolutionary road. I congratulate every one of the participants in this program and wish them every success in becoming the best version of what they wish to be. My special thanks to my compatriot Saumya Basu who has been a great Ambassador for India-Bangladesh friendship, Nasima Aktar Nisha and her hardworking and committed team, and of course Minister Palak for his vision and commitment, as well as his colleagues whom I hope will further support this program in its next series. We at the High Commission remain honoured to be part of this journey. We look forward to continue to transform the India-Bangladesh partnership, one household at a time, through one woman at a time.

Thank you!

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