Empowering women: A path to Inclusive organisational development

Hsa Thu Lay, Finance and Support Services Director
Friday, March 1, 2024

As we celebrate International Women's Day, it's a moment to reflect on the journey of women in leadership roles and the transformative power of women's inclusion within organisations. My own experience demonstrates how being empowered and having gender equality can make a big difference in how well an organisation does.

I have been working at World Vision International Myanmar for almost 25 years. My leadership journey began with a passion for numbers and a dedication to making a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable children and their families. Despite facing hurdles and limitations in accessing education and opportunities throughout my career, I have persevered, focusing on my passion for accounting and finance.

Throughout my career, I have held various roles, from project accountant to Finance Manager, and eventually to my current position as Finance and Support Services Director. Each step of the way presented its own set of challenges, but with the support of my colleagues and mentors, I embraced these challenges and emerged stronger.

One of the key lessons I have learned on this journey is the significance of women's inclusion in the workplace. Women's inclusion is not just about meeting diversity quotas; it is about creating an environment where every woman, regardless of their belief, background, or identity, feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique talents and perspectives. At World Vision International Myanmar, we recognise that diversity is our strength, and we actively promote gender equality and inclusivity at all levels of the organisation.

Besides, I believe that gender equality is not just a moral imperative; it is also essential for organisational development and success. When women are empowered to take on leadership roles, organisations benefit from a wider range of perspectives, increased innovation, and better decision-making. By breaking down barriers and inspiring women’s inclusion, we unlock the full potential of our workforce. It leads to driving positive change in the communities we serve.

I consider myself fortunate to work in an environment where gender equality is not just a goal but a reality. At World Vision International Myanmar, women are not only represented in leadership positions but are also empowered to lead with confidence and integrity. Within our inclusive culture, collaboration, creativity, and mutual respect are not just encouraged but celebrated. This environment enables us to confront challenges head-on and work towards our collective vision of a world where every child is in all its fullness.

However, in the outside world, the journey towards gender equality and inclusivity is far from over. According to the Women's Workplace Equality Index[1] of the Council on Foreign Relations, Myanmar ranks 163 out of 189 countries in terms of accessing institutions, building credit, getting a job, providing incentives to work, and using property (overall 45.5 scores). Myanmar lags behind 25 other East Asian and Pacific countries, including Taiwan (80.2), the Philippines (77), and Mongolia (76.5). These figures indicate Myanmar's persistent underperformance relative to its regional counterparts.

It is a critical issue that demands our attention and action. Failure to address gender equality and inclusion in the workplace results in pervasive social problems and poses a significant threat to organisational growth. Therefore, it is imperative that we actively confront and tackle these issues, both within our organisation and in the broader community.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us recommit ourselves to the cause of gender equality and inclusive leadership within organisations. Let us strive to create workplaces where everyone feels empowered to reach their full potential.

Together, we can empower each other and inspire inclusion in all that we do. The time for change is now, and together, we can make it happen.

Happy International Women's Day!

Hsa Thu Lay

Finance and Support Services Director