Farhana's employment story
“Every interview and conference that I have been to, and every employer who I have worked for, has been aware of the Award and its outcomes. In fact, this was one of the most outstanding achievements which has played a great role in my career so far.” Farhana Meghami, student in computer science and software engineering, and Training and Research Executive, UN Women
Forty five per cent of the world’s 75 million unemployed young people live in Asia and the Pacific.1 In Bangladesh, 80% of the population is aged less than 402, meaning that there is, and will continue to be, huge pressure on employment. The country needs young people who are skilled for work, but also entrepreneurs who can create their own businesses and employment: young people like Farhana, 23, from Dhaka.
Entrepreneurial Service project
Farhana's entrepreneurial skills were honed while she completed her Service section at the Bangladesh Association of the Aged elderly home. What she saw there inspired her to create a groundbreaking project to empower its elderly female residents, and many other women in her local community.
She had noticed that there were many female residents who did not need to be there, but who had no where else to go because their families couldn’t support them and they could not support themselves financially. Once she discovered that these women were gifted with handicraft and patchwork skills which they weren’t using, she set up a business which involved the residents selling handmade jute baskets and exquisite textiles, while passing on their skills to young women. Foreign buyers signed up for regular purchases and these women were recognised for the first time in their lives for their ingenuity and talent.
Farhana estimates that around 900 women have now benefited from this project to empower them economically. Women such as Renu are happy to testify to how their lives have changed as a result: “I feel I can now earn my own living as this initiative has given me a chance to actually discover the hidden talents that I have.”
Landing a dream job
Not surprisingly, being able to demonstrate these kind of entrepreneurial skills has helped Farhana to land her own job with one of her dream employers: the UN. “After my first conference of representing the Award on behalf of my country, I came across another seminar where I placed my presentation in front of valued members of the United Nations. They acknowledged my journey with the Award and were also very pleased with the activities I had completed.”
Her manager, Mohammad Iqbal Ahmed, agrees that her Award experience was a decisive factor in why she is now working for the UN: "This award evidently develops unconquerable leadership skills amongst young people. We highly encourage youngsters to undertake this award as it makes them develop themselves into a better individual, much advanced in this refined and competitive world."
Standing out in the crowd
Farhana hopes that her current role with UN Women in Bangladesh will be a springboard which enables her to continue to empower others. “I aim to make a global impact someday, especially for the women in society across the globe.” In a country where female participation in the work force is 59% compared with 83% for men3, young women in Bangladesh need opportunities to increase their value and influence in the economic sphere.
Farhana is clear on the competitive edge which the Award has given her in her developing career. “I never thought that doing this Award would help me in so many ways. Starting from amazing conferences, meeting new people, coming across various cultures, standing out of the crowd in interviews and most importantly, realising my own hidden potentials, this Award has gifted me with more than what I could ever have asked for.”