Across the globe and especially in the Indo-Pacific region, women are playing significant roles – some are serving in the government, some are actively involved in the private sector, and some are vigorously fighting for social causes.
Knowing that women had to go through hurdles before gaining the spotlight, the Australian Government shows its commitment and support in strengthening women’s leadership skills in Asean through the Regional Women’s Leadership Initiative. Last week, the programme was officially launched in Cambodia.
The programme is initiated by Australia Awards Cambodia in partnership with the Australian Alumni Association of Cambodia (AAA-C) to facilitate Australia Awards’ women alumni from across the Asean region to connect, mobilise, celebrate and further their development as leaders and influencers of regional development.
From April 4 to 6, more than 70 Australia Award female alumni from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines actively participated in the launching event and workshop.
Chansouk Insovanh, a freelance consultant from Laos, said, “The Regional Women Leadership workshop has been an inspiring one for me because I attended the workshop with the goal of seeing other people and learning from them. Regional Women Leadership Workshop was participated by women from different fields and states in the Asean. They brought knowledge, skills, experiences and professionalism to the table, and we discussed what we can improve on our fields.”
Leadership barriers faced by women was also highlighted in the discussion.
“During the discussion, for instance, we have discussed on the process of leadership of a person. How a person grows up to enrich her leadership skills, how long it takes, what challenges women encounter in life to build more leadership charisma. Because in order to bring more women to get involved in the regional and international decision-making, we need to understand the challenges she faces. As we live in a world of cultural diversity, we believe that there are also differences in religions and social beliefs,” shared Insovanh.
Director of Australia Award Alumni, Tom Sisophearath, who won the Australia scholarship in the field of education and management in 2006, also shared her experiences and academic perspective of her journey.
“In Australia students are encouraged to be self-learning and are required to do a lot of researches. Exposing myself in the journey of studying for two years there has shaped me a lot in terms of understanding the culture and educational system, as well as improving critical thinking skills.
In order to bridge the gap and develop Cambodia’s education system, Sisophearath said that it’s important to change people’s mindset towards education first.
“Absolutely! The education system in Australia is what Cambodia needs. However, to apply them here, we should transform our people – their capacity and the way they think,” she noted.