Leadership for Gender Inclusion supporting diverse women in leadership
The Australian Embassy in Laos, along with Laos Australia Institute, recently attended the official opening of the ‘Leadership for Gender Inclusion’ program in Vientiane, Laos. The opening ceremony was attended by 28 participants and guests with the official welcome delivered by Malaivieng Viengvilay – Program Officer (Human Resource Development), Australian Embassy.
The 10-week program, conducted from March to May 2021, aims to develop further leadership skills of a selected cohort of 22 Lao government, industry and community representatives, enabling gender equity and equal opportunity through a series of workshops, field visits, online modules, webinar presentations, and online symposium, and mentoring sessions delivered by Griffith University in Australia. The program includes three 3-day workshops in Vientiane, facilitated by Laos based, Gender Development Association.
Seeking to support diverse women, from both the public and private sectors, to develop leadership capabilities, this program will contribute to improving Lao’s competitive advantage in the 2020 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The program will also support women to take up leadership roles in the Government of Laos, through which Australia will be supporting Laos in its preparations to be the ASEAN chair in 2024.
Engagement in the initial workshop was high, with one participant stating, ‘I got to know more about gender issues around the World, in the region and in my country. The course also provided some specific knowledge/terms related to gender area, which helps me to understand more I I can now visualise the ideas and formulate better strategies to improve myself as well as helping others’
During the initial workshop, participants had the opportunity to develop individual project ideas as well as groups for networking. There were opportunities to hear from Lao women in leadership roles via a panel discussion and a field trip to the Laos Disabled Women Development Centre. The workshop was followed by a networking dinner to reinforce linkages. Participants were joined by Mr Matthew Banks – First Secretary Policy and Development from the Australian Embassy.
The Lao women in leadership panel discussion incorporated successful female entrepreneurs and their enterprises. Key discussions focused on the factors contributing to successful business, key challenges in running a business, impact from COVID-19, key role models, how to deal with failure and funding opportunities, among other topics. One participant commented, ‘The panel discussion was the highlight of the course as it is about the real experience of women who have succeeded in their own business. Other highlights were described as ‘the opportunity to meet all the amazing women and men from different industries and organisations – sharing their passion for gender equality. In addition, a highlight was that I felt I was contributing something to this course; my ideas were heard and acknowledged.’
The initial workshop was held from 26 to 28 March 2021 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.