On Wednesday, the European Union and ECCIL EuroCham launched a joint program to contribute to gender equality and women empowerment in business and the economy in Laos.
On May 10th, the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Laos organized a Breakfast Talk to launch its program, co-funded by the European Union. Its aim is to contribute to gender equality and women empowerment in private sector development and business, in line with the priorities of the Team Europe Strategy 2021-2025 and the mandate of the ECCIL.
Ms. Ina Marčiulionytė, Ambassador of the European Union to Lao PDR, shared in her opening speech, “There are many strong girls and women in Laos. Quite often, I can see that they lack opportunities, encouragement, and confidence. Together as Team Europe, we are joining forces in Laos to promote gender equality, to make sure that the physical and psychological integrity of women and girls is protected, that they are empowered, their voice heard and participation strengthened.”
“Women still face numerous problems in the workplace such as gender income inequality, work-family life balance where working mothers have two full-time careers, harassment, gender bias and cultural stereotypes which leads to career advancement barriers. Female graduates and entering the workforce today will encounter many of these problems,” said Thiane Khamvongsa, Executive Director of ECCIL EuroCham.
“This is why ECCIL EuroCham has set out to create a safe space of dialogue within its office, in the form of a program that aims to advocate for Women’s Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Empowerment through several events such as panel talks, advocacy, and awareness events targeted to the business community in Laos and group mentoring sessions targeted to young female professionals. We have the opportunity to have in our network many experienced female professionals who have successfully navigated these roadblocks and managed to rise through the ranks of the companies they work for. These professionals will be able to offer constructive guidance and perspective and full real-world wisdom that will help mentees feel inspired to take action.”
This 1st event of a series introduced the program to the public, launching it with a panel talk of experienced female executives and entrepreneurs, who discussed at length how to unlock the full potential of women in the Lao economy, how to bring down the barriers that hold women back and brainstormed on how to empower women in the workplace for the future group mentoring sessions.
The panel was moderated by Mrs. Annette Knobloch, Ambassador of Germany in Lao PDR, who remarked, “Women empowerment is crucial to ensure that they have the confidence to exercise their rights, assume more responsibilities, and even lead important businesses.”
Sharing experiences from both Laos and her country Germany, she also observed, “Family and society play an essential role in influencing and encouraging women.”
Ms. Mette Boatman, Vice-President of ECCIL EuroCham added, “The personal stories shared by female role models here today, emphasize that a culture change is needed, in family, in education, and the workplace. But history tell us that culture can change, and it does change all the time. As employers, looking at our HR register, we have to ask ourselves whether we have done enough to encourage women in leadership positions? How can we help change culture by changing our workforce demands? As a Chamber of Commerce, we can take a lead to increase awareness and ensure to bring both men and women into these discussions.”