Men dominate senior positions in First Women Bank Limited

Men have been dominating the senior positions of First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) in contradiction to the vision of the Islamic world’s first woman Prime Minister (PM) Benazir Bhutto.

According to sources, not a single man was part of the management team of FWBL till December 2021 since the establishment (1989) of the FWBL. However, the former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government inducted men in the bank and currently top eight senior management positions including President of FWBL are occupied by the men.

“This is altogether contrary to the basic aim and vision of the then premier Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed) for establishing the FWBL in the country,” said sources.

They added that the then PM Benazir Bhutto Shaheed while congratulating the first President of FWBL through a letter dated 03 December 1989 expressed the need of the women staff to foster economic independence of the country’s women.  

A copy of the letter of former Prime of Pakistan Minister Benazir Bhutto Shaheed available with Pakistan Today/Profit disclosed that the then premier while congratulating Miss Akram Khatoon, the first President of the First Women Bank Limited Karachi, said that the establishment of FWBL is aimed at giving a fillip to career women of the country who at present have little access to institutional credit.

“We would also like to see that the women’s bank may employ, other than for security purposes, only women,” said Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.

She added that this will not only enable working women to have greater job opportunities but it will encourage ‘parda nasheen’ ladies to avail the services of the bank for purposes of account and saving.

Benazir Bhutto Shaheed also said that the democratic government would like the women’s bank to come up with saving schemes for women. It is also to encourage women who do not have traditional collateral, to secure loans for employment ventures and it is for the bank to determine what terms of collateral it should offer its women clients, said Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.

“Let the women’s bank be a pioneer in helping Muslim women secure economic independence and career satisfaction within the cultural ambiance and social values of an Islamic society,” reads the letter of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.        

According to sources, regretfully, the number of women staffs has reduced significantly within the bank and on top of that all-important portfolios are being held by the men in the bank including Farrukh Iqbal, President, Amir Zuberi, Head Risk Management (Chief Risk Officer),Faisal Hussain, Head Business Division, Furqan Yaser, Company Secretary & Head Legal, Kashif Karimi, Head IT, Muhammad Farrukh, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Muzaffar Khan, Treasurer and Sajid Ahmed Hashmi, Head Audit. They said the bank’s President is of significance important to the overall vision of the bank. They said instead of promoting leadership within the FWBL’s ranks (the women who are serving the bank for more than 10-20 years) outside staff is hired on all the important positions. If this continues very soon the bank (FWBL) will be dominated by the men and the dream of empowering women and their economic independence will be out of the question in the already male-dominated banking environment of the country, said sources.

Farrukh Iqbal Khan, President & Chief Executive Officer of First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) was contacted to get his stance on the matter. But he did not bother to respond.

FWBL was set up in 1989 by the Islamic world’s first woman Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (Shaheed), who wanted a bank that would meet the banking needs of women. The FWBL commenced its business on 2nd December, 1989 with a paid-up capital of Rs. 100 Million; 90 percent of which was contributed in varying proportions by five leading Public Sector banks of the country named as National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Muslim Commercial Bank Limited (MCB), United Bank Limited (UBL) and Allied Bank Limited (ABL) while 10 pc of the remaining capital came from the federal government.

The unique charter of FWBL said, “Undertaking the conduct of all forms of business of Banking Company in a manner designed to meet the special needs of women and to encourage and assist them in promotion and running of trade and industry and practice of profession.”

Similarly, the vision of FWBL clearly said to create value for our stakeholders, and contribute towards the country’s economic development through mainstreaming women by creating an enabling environment as the dynamic agent of change and prosperity. Furthermore, the mission of FWBL is said to be a sustainable bank offering efficient, cost effective and need based financial products and services with special focus to address women’s banking needs through strategic alliances. Improve governance through capacity building and restructuring of the Bank.

It is pertinent to mention that Board of Directors of FWBL is consisted of six directors and out of which three directors are male named as Najeeb Agrawalla, Chairman Board, Wajahat Rasul Khan, Independent Director and Farrukh Iqbal Khan, President & CEO FWBL while Ms. Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi, Independent Director, Ms. Bushra Ehsan, Independent Director and Ms. Sumbul Munir, nominee Director, Habib Bank Limited (HBL) also part of BoD of FWBL.

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Ahmad Ahmadani
Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is a an investigative journalist at Profit. He can be reached at [email protected].
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