The United Nations is honoring a Microsoft executive for helping to narrow the digital divide for women in Bangladesh.
Sonia Bashir Kabir, who is managing director for Microsoft Bangladesh, has been named as one of 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Pioneers by the United Nations Global Compact.
The annual awards go to individuals who exhibit “how companies and pioneering individuals can be a force for positive change in addressing the issues we all face today,” said Lise Kingo, CEO of the UN Global Compact.
“Ms. Kabir has been impactful in advocating for women’s participation in the information technology (IT) workforce. She has been a pioneer in promoting women to embrace technology through digital literacy training.”
“I am deeply humbled and honored to be recognized as an SDG Pioneer 2017 by the UN Global Compact team,” Ms. Kabir said. “I am excited about inspiring and empowering women of my country with technology.”
She is a strong advocate for digital literacy and has led programs to open IT career opportunities for women. She has also arranged microloans for women to set up IT businesses, the Daily Star newspaper reported.
“We have found huge success in inspiring women to take up the initial steps in embracing technology and pursuing businesses related to technology. With the help of the government, we expect to see a significant rise in the number of women who will cross the digital divide in Bangladesh within the next year.”
Microsoft donates technology to non-profit organizations and trains around 2,000 young women in Bangladesh every year.
The UN Global Compact is a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.
Educated and trained in Silicon Valley, Ms. Kabir worked in the U.S. technology industry for 15 years with companies like Oracle and Sun Microsystems. She moved back to Bangladesh in 2005 and took on leadership roles in local and multinational companies such as Aamra Technologies, Microsoft and Dell.
She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Santa Clara University, California, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Hayward.