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'My focus is on how to improve the living standard of women and to ensure a better tomorrow'

  • Published at 12:31 am October 29th, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:08 pm October 31st, 2017
'My focus is on how to improve the living standard of women and to ensure a better tomorrow'

You are an SDG pioneer. What helped you in achieving this?

I am very fortunate to have all my basic needs met and to live in a privileged group. On the other hand, there are lots of women who haven’t had the fortune. As a woman, I had a dream to do something for the underprivileged women. In materialising the dream, I designed “Nibedita”, which helped in achieving Local SDG Pioneers status at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2016. I was recognised for my efforts aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on Gender Equality. My focus is on how to improve the living standard of women and to ensure a better tomorrow for them. Bangladesh is one of the successful achievers of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

What is Nibedita

Nibedita is a comprehensive insurance scheme for women, the first ever in Bangladesh, launched by Green Delta Insurance (GDI). It is exclusively designed for women as today’s women are exposed to various hazards related to the occupational and social issues. It provides economic security to them irrespective of their income, occupation or vocation. It is one of the key security measures to undertake in providing financial security in case of an accident. It ensures that your family does not suffer in an event of an accident by providing compensation for accidental death or disablement.

How do you think this service can be made available to the public?

It is not possible to reach the mass overnight to bring them under insurance coverage. I will not be able to do that alone. That is why GDI is going through different distribution channels. Green Delta Insurance is working with Access to Information (a2i) programme to ensure hassle free operations for the users especially in rural areas. GDI is also working with the ICT Division of government as it is wide range network, which can help to connect more people in the sector. We are partnering with banks, shops and other community outlets to reach our targeted people.

How can Nibedita help to empower women?

Bangladesh government has taken lots of initiatives to empower women. Nibedita will act as a facilitator and a platform to attain the goals in terms of financial inclusion and entrepreneurship. It will be a very strong platform for the women.

What can you tell us about crops insurance?

Green Delta Insurance is working on crops insurance and climate change. For the first time in Bangladesh, an initiative for Weather Index-based Agriculture Insurance has been taken and International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing technical and financial support. As per the terms and conditions, if a farmer witnesses rain for five days, he will get a claim of Tk10,000. It is based on meteorological information and there is no scope of manipulation. Crops insurance is a tool for mitigation of farmers’ risk. Banks can tag insurance facilities when they give loan to farmers.

There is mistrust among the people about the payment to claim. How can you build up people’s trust on insurance?

There was a notion that insurance companies don’t pay claim. But it is not true. Due to lack of publicity, people did not know. But you can see we are paying claims regularly and making it public through the media. On the other hand, the regulation is very strong and implemented. Insurance people have to publicise their activities to make the people aware and this would help in building trust. Let people know that the insurance is paying claims. If the people see that a client from Kalihati is receiving his health insurance coverage, it builds trust.

What is the reason behind such a small number of people with insurance?

Bangladesh is a highly populated country with 160 million people. But the insurance penetration is very low and is about 1% of the total population. Lack of awareness among the people about the need for insurance is responsible for a small number of clients. No one taught people that everyone needs insurance. There is no lesson in the academic level in schools and colleges. Just universities have done something about it recently. But I am very hopeful and confident that the penetration of insurance will increase soon as the country is posting sound economic growth. In the last year, Bangladesh posted a growth rate of 7.24%, with socio-economic development happening with increased purchasing power. On the other hand, the insurance sector are taking new initiatives and introducing value added products, which will penetrate more into the target demographic. When new generation will come up with new ideas, the sector will flourish. That’s why, creating awareness in every step is important.

What should be the government policy in reaching mass public?

Having an insurance coverage should be mandatory for everyone by government policy. If the government endorsed the need for insurance in people’s lives, it will build awareness among the people. For women, it is more essential to empower herself economically. In paying tax, we are equal to banks. But in terms of earnings, insurance earns way less than banks. Considering social aspects and income generation, corporate and other tax should not be same as banks.

What should the others insurance companies do?

We are working to introduce innovative products to attract clients, especially women. The others should follow us and also devise ways of bringing changes in society. And to this end, reintroducing new and quality products with unique features can help in reaching people from all corners.