Top Left: Laboni Afroz Chowdhury; Top Right: Khaleda Rouf un Nahar
Bottom Left: Marufa A. Chowdhury; Bottom Center: Nurun Nahar Begum
Bottom Right: Mosammad Nazmun Nahar
International Women’s Day is a worldwide occasion that celebrates women’s achievements; be it small, large, political, social or personal - while calling out for gender equality. Since 1900
’s the event has been observed, and now recognized each year on March 8th. Aarong has always been outspoken and proactive when it comes to equal rights and opportunities in workplace. At a time when women still face hurdles navigating through their lives, we looked at a few women at Aarong, who through sheer hard work and dedication, defied conventional expectations, and have made the organization what it is.
Nurun Nahar Begum
Executive, Quality Control (QC)
Nahar started working at Aarong in 1996 as part of the Quality Control team. Her desire for working instigated when she was feeling bored and lonely at home. She figured she could easily utilize her spare time. At a time when women were not encouraged to work outside, she easily gained her family’s support. She specially mentioned her father, who always wanted her to do something with her life.
When she joined Aarong, she was extremely worried about the work culture at the beginning since companies and organizations back then preferred men over women in most cases, however Aarong never differentiated between genders. She’s been working with Aarong for twenty years now, and not even for once, during her stay, she felt uncomfortable. Aarong has taught her to respect work, and the people who do it.
Laboni Afroz Chowdhury
Manager, Central Store & Warehouse
One of the things that still surprises Laboni is how Aarong managed to keep the work culture amiable and comfortable since its inception. When organizations expand, the environment usually starts to stifle. This has not been the case for Aarong, the place where she has been working for the past 22 years. Initially, her in-laws weren’t very supportive. However, her husband’s constant encouragement helped her to push all sorts of boundaries.
Laboni currently works as the manager of central store and warehouse. A lot of young female workers often come to her with various problems. One of the most frequent one is how they’re asked not to work because they’re girls, and that they are meant to stay at home and take care of children. She constantly provides them support and reassurance that if they stick to their conviction for working, the challenges at home will dissipate on their own.
Mosammad Nazmun Nahar
Nazmun started her journey as an Artisan with Aarong in Jessore. Back in 2009, she heard from one of her distant relatives that there was an opportunity for working at an Aarong Sub Center. Since she knew most of the sewing techniques, she figured that she could learn the rest on the go. The first hurdle was the distance that she had to travel everyday to reach the sub center. It was 2.2 kilometers away and transport related problems were a frequent thing. Nevertheless, she decided to keep on working.
Two years later she came to Dhaka for the first time and joined Aarong’s Head Office. It was difficult for her at the beginning since most of her family lived in Jessore. However, with time, she has made Aarong her home.
Marufa A. Chowdhury
Marufa joined Aarong as a designer in 2011 after completing her study from Santiniketan, India. The organizational structure and work culture of Aarong has contributed to make her feel important as a person since everyone is valued solely on the basis of his/her performance and strong moral values, and never judged based on gender.
Marufa has received full support from Aarong regarding her special requirements as a working mother. She managed a decent work life balance and believes that Aarong has amazingly reflected the broader philosophy of BRAC to empower many women like her at workforce.
Khaleda Rouf un Nahar
Khaleda joined as a sales assistant in 1999. Flash forward to 2017, she’s now the Gulshan Outlet Manager. The work environment at Aarong is something that she truly admires. Even though the company has expanded to many different platforms, its employees are always a priority. Whenever part time female workers need to work over-time, they are provided with transport support so that they can safely go to their homes.
She’s very proud of the work she does. She considers confidence as one of her greatest assets. And whenever young female workers come to her with household problems or any sort of help, she asks them to be strong.