Q&A with Tanzida Islam

“Working with AWS has taught us the importance of a collaborative approach to address water-related challenges.”

#WomenInWater #EmbraceEquity

Q&A with Tanzida Islam

We spoke with Tanzida Islam, Programme Manager – Environment at H&M Group, about her role, water stewardship and what International Women’s Day means to her.

How would you describe your role? 

As an Environmental Program Manager at H&M Group (Bangladesh Production Office), my role is to plan and execute sustainable programs with a focus on areas related to water, climate and chemical management to improve the environmental sustainability of factories supplying to H&M. I work with various stakeholders to drive industrial change with shared responsibilities, ranging from government to non-governmental organizations and business sectors.

What does a day in your job look like?

A typical day in my job involves planning and prioritizing daily deliverables, attending internal and external meetings and conducting organized factory visits. These engagements help me to understand the progress of our sustainability programs. Another crucial aspect is to secure business alignment with factories’ environmental sustainability performance, which requires building internal and external capacity.

What does water stewardship mean to you?

Water Stewardship means going beyond the fence line to benefit communities. In my view, we are at the foundational stage of our water stewardship journey. Since we are not the only brand present in the river basin, collaboration with stakeholders is necessary to achieve good outcomes. One example of this is our collaboration with the Alliance for Water Stewardship, together with other clothing brands, supplier factories and local communities in three prioritized locations: Gazipur, Narayanganj and Savar in Bangladesh. We have made progress and still have a long way to go.

How have you found working with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)/AWS Standard?

Working with Alliance for Water Stewardship has taught us the importance of a collaborative approach to address water-related challenges. We have also learned to assess five outcomes (good water governance; sustainable water balance; good quality water status; important water-related areas; and water, sanitation and hygiene) using the AWS five-step method. It provides a clear understanding of what is needed to reduce water consumption, tackle water pollution and establish good water governance in high-risk basins.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

The meaning of International Women’s Day for me is to support women’s voices and actions in society without fear of any repercussions. This day gives us a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of women and their contributions to our community. Additionally, it is a day where we acknowledge the barriers that need to be removed for women to aspire and achieve their life goals.

IWD 2023 asks us to: ’embrace equity’. Have there been any instances where you have embraced equity in your role or supported others to do so?

Equity means to strive for fair treatment, access, equal opportunities and advancement for everyone while identifying and removing barriers that prevent certain groups from fully participating. As a woman, my career journey was not easy, and there were times when I needed support, acceptance and trust from others. Now, I believe it’s my turn to provide support to someone else. I am an inclusive person who respects others’ uniqueness in an empathetic, unbiased way. I love to build relationships and value the opinion of others. However, in our culture, it can be challenging for women to raise their voice. Fortunately, my work environment is quite inclusive and encourages diversity.

In the context of your work on water stewardship, are there any other leaders in this space who you think others should know about?

I would like to share the name of Hasin Jahan, Country Director for WaterAid Bangladesh. She is focused on transforming the lives of the most marginalised people to ensure safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Her work to promote WASH in marginalised communities makes her an excellent example of water leadership in Bangladesh.