Women in Business and Leadership Development

03 December 2019

Austcham, an Australian NGO, hosted the 4th Women in Business and Leadership Development Conference, which brought together the participants from different sectors of businesses and entrepreneurs and leadership positions. Sharing the insights and advices for women in empowerment and gender equality, the conference with the focus of “breaking through the glass ceiling” kicked off at Rosewood Hotel, Yangon on 30th November.

Ms. Ekayi Maw Koo, CEO of Austcham Myanmar said, “The objective of today’s event is to create the opportunity for female Myanmar leaders and business leaders to come together. We really want to have an opportunity for Myanmar women, who are going to be the future leaders of this country to participate, to listen to others and to encourage each other to develop the equal opportunity for women empowerment in our economy and in our business.”

She continued, “Myanmar is the country that has open up recently and many opportunities have come. But at the same time, there are a lot of changes that need to happen. In terms of talking about the glass ceiling, it can be different for different people in different situations. There is a lot to be done in education, the country’s opening up, the adjustment to new culture, the adjustment to international practices. I don’t think these as barriers or ceiling but I see as a challenge. So, I think such kind of forum is important, where we get together to get the opportunity to study the skills and knowledge from who are elder, those who are from abroad, and those with education  and experience.”

One of the panelists, Daw Lin Lin Aung, Programme Director of Plan International Myanmar, which is implementing the community-based projects in some states and regions in Myanmar, explained about the participation of young women in these projects. “I think the change that you can see in girls is transformational. For the first time, they are learning how to be confident, how to take on this leadership roles because they are part of this school management committee together with boys. Then, they earn respect from their teachers and community and it really helps to change public perception in terms of what girls can do and the change they can bring.”

She also talked about the challenges that women are facing in work field, “There are many gaps; I think one is building that leadership earlier and building the confidence. Because of some of our socialism and culture, they are affecting our girls. They are growing up without confidence. Second, women who are already working are torn with all of the pressures from the society. They are worried about being the good mother, good wife and good employee at the same time. That psychological impact is huge. Third, women, who are already in senior positions, are worried about some of the attacks and challenges. Honestly, I think women’s positional and personal power is tested every day.”

Over 50% of women are not in the work force, so it is important to encourage them to get involved in business field and achieve the leadership roles. Chief Audit Officer of Yoma Bank, Nang Khin Khin Gyi, said, “Even before women can enter into the work force, there are a lot of social and cultural barriers that women have to overcome; some in the name of culture and some in the name of tradition or religion. Once you get into the work force, those women are already capable in proving of the success. We have to create an environment in an organization, where women belong, that is for both men and women to be free and feel safe to share challenges and to come for the support to overcome the challenges.”

Thaw Tar Swe Zin