Promoting women and youth leadership for sustainable, inclusive growth

Promoting women and youth leadership for sustainable, inclusive growth

SOEs Minister Erick Thohir and participants of Girls Take Over, Jakarta (27/9/2021). ANTARA FOTO/Dhemas Reviyanto/aww.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on people’s lives, how businesses and economies operate, and the global sustainability agenda. Nevertheless, the current conditions will provide an unprecedented opportunity to build a better world by implementing more sustainable policies and actions.

To address current challenges, the G20 heads of state and government will convene at the Rome Summit this month to discuss various development agendas from health and education to the economy, emphasizing trade, investments, and the digital economy.

The Rome Summit is not the only significant event happening in the world in October. The International Day of the Girl (IDG) will be celebrated on October 11, and this event, which intends to campaign for gender equality, has become an important moment for us.

It is a reminder for promoting gender equality, amplifying girls' voices meaningfully, and supporting their presence and leadership.

Women’s effective participation and leadership in improving productivity, enhancing ecosystem conservation, and creating more sustainable systems has been recognized by UN Women reports.

Related news: SOEs Minister launches #GirlsTakeOver to promote women's leadership

The participation has been progressing in the last decade: an increasing number of women are serving in parliaments, the gender budgeting policy has been implemented in several countries, and efforts made for ensuring equal school attendance.

Despite these gains, many challenges remain at the country, region, and global level. Globally, among the CEOs of 500 world-class companies, only around 5.8% (just 29) were women in 2019. Meanwhile, just 5.3% of board members were women in 2018 (Catalyst 2020).

The Global Gender Gap Report in 2021 by the World Economic Forum shows that across the 156 countries covered by the index, women’s representation is only at 26.1% of some 35,500 parliament seats and just 22.6% of over 3,400 ministers worldwide.

Women’s participation in Indonesia is not far behind when compared to global levels. The McKinsey Global Institute in 2018 revealed that Indonesia could add $135 billion to its annual gross domestic product by 2025 if it can improve gender equality. The Asia-Pacific Girls Report 2021, published by Plan International, revealed that Indonesia is ranked 10th out of 19 countries in the Girls' Leadership Index based on six domains: education, health, economic opportunities, protection, political voice and representation, and laws and policies in the Asia-Pacific.

Related news: SOEs Minister announces six #GirlsTakeOver finalists

On this index, Indonesia is ranked 12th in vote representation and representation of young women in politics.

The progress achieved before the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in terms of gender equality, has eroded during the pandemic. Women, mainly in the informal sector, have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, women bear a greater burden of domestic chores and spend more time caring for the family than men.

This potentially affects their productivity, mental health, and participation in economic and leadership positions.

In response to this situation, increasing the role of women in Indonesian State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) has been a key development agenda of the Ministry of SOEs since 2019.

The Ministry of SoEs has been recognized as one of the agents of change in promoting women’s empowerment.

The ministry has set an ambitious target of ensuring at least 15 percent (in aggregate) of SOEs leaders are women by the end of 2021, which is in line with the Asia average. Singapore and Italy have been at the forefront of this push with the highest number of female CEOs (15 percent).

With the current figure in Indonesian SOEs at 13 percent, significant progress has been made, and the target will be increased to 25 percent in 2023.

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In celebrating the IDG, the Indonesian government, through the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises, has involved five major Indonesian SOEs in the #GirlsTakeover campaign starting this year and joined forces with Plan International.

A commitment to participate in the #GirlsTakeover campaign is being set for this year and the subsequent five years.

This participation is not mere rhetoric, but it represents genuine readiness and a long-term commitment to promote and involve women and young people in transforming SOEs and develop the best solution for more sustainable and inclusive development within the ministry and 100 state-owned companies, including their subsidiaries throughout Indonesia.

The #GirlsTakeover program had attracted over seven thousand participants, and the program resulted in recognizing the outstanding leadership skills shown by six young women.

As one of the #GirlsTakeover finalists, Sharon has had first-hand experience of the high level of commitment of the ministry in promoting women leaders through mentoring, coaching, and education programs.

#GirlsTakeover is also aligned with the Ministry of SOEs' programs to develop women and youth leadership in SOEs and aims to provide an opportunity to people under 42 to lead and transform SOEs.

Related news: Human resources key for Indonesia's sustainability: Thohir

The target is for young leaders populating 5 percent of all SOE leadership positions by 2021 and 10 percent by 2023.

The ministry has facilitated the establishment of Srikandi BUMN (Women of SOEs) and BUMN Muda (Youth of SOEs) communities as strategic partners to implement measures and build support systems to meet the targets.

These affirmative actions by SOEs can inspire other private companies and enterprises to support women and youth leadership to secure a more equal future for our nation.

With a full commitment from the Indonesian government and business leaders for women and youth leadership, we can contribute to achieving gender equality, a pre-condition for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goals 5 and 10.

We believe that promoting women and youth leadership can significantly contribute to the development of the country.

Next year, Indonesia will be trusted to host the G20 Summit, which will focus on three pillars: promoting productivity, increasing resilience and stability, and ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth.

Related news: SOEs Scholarship program to include six #GirlsTakeover participants

Evidence has shown that women and men and young people are inseparable factors for the successful achievement of these pillars.

Indonesia cannot deliver success in those pillars by only having men as senior leaders.

If anything, the current crisis has taught us about balance, inclusiveness, and togetherness.

Hence, it is important for Indonesia, which will soon assume the 2022 G20 Presidency, to promote women and youth leadership for an equal world which will contribute to country development performance in gender equality and a significant improvement to global development goals and prosperity.

*Erick Thohir is Indonesia’s Minister of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)

*Sharon Florencia is a future female leader who took over the Minister of SOEs’ role as part of the Girls Takeover 2021 campaign organized by Plan Indonesia in collaboration with the Ministry of SOEs, Srikandi BUMN, and Indonesia Human Capital Forum.

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