While in today’s male dominated society, women has become a key player and ruled the world with her
diligence and commitment. Throughout Southeast Asia, there are a lot of examples we see for
inspirational women, who are playing key roles in leading businesses along with men. However, there is
still some gender inequality factors exist in the business world for female leadership. However, in today’s
business world, female’s participation in routine and strategic business matters has considerably
increased and they are performing more efficiently and well just as men.
In pre-modern society of Southeast Asia, women have been influenced by many factors due to which their
participation was considerably low as compare to other western countries. Over time, due to the
involvement of religion (i.e., Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity) and spread of philosophies, the men were
more privileged and female were stressed to obey and subordinate men in every matter and walk of life.
In the nineteenth century, European control was increased due to the economic and strategic position
between Southeast Asian’s Countries. Because of which, women were given less autonomy and they
were recruited as cheap wage labor for plantations and in processing factories. Moreover, in rural areas,
traditional rule strengthened the male position as head of the household and devised customary laws
that had given women considerable autonomy. With the increasing rate of female literacy, women
became more encouraged to face and challenge issues of gender inequality.
In recent years, the number of women doing business and holding key positions in offices has increased
considerably. In 1980, with the expansion in education, Southeast Asian women became more
empowered and got organization skills to face and argue for issues which hinder women equality.
Women’s Representation in Top Management in Asia
The statistics taken from reliable resource showed less representation of women holding
6 percent of positions on corporateboardsand 8 percent of positions in executive
committeesinAsiancompanies as compared to Europe andtheUnitedStates.
Considering facts mentioned here-in above, there are numbers of inspirational Southeast Asian women
with remarkable achievements in their career, despite lots of hurdles and roadblocks. Here are some of
the most inspirational South East Asian Women, who put their efforts through economically changing
times, and also inspiring young women to pursue their business goals and dreams despite the obstacles
they face:
1. Hooi Ling Tan, GrabTaxi (MyTeksi)
Hooi Ling Tan, a former McKinsey consultant, co-founded GrabTaxi with her classmate at Harvard,
Anthony Tan. Today, Asia is experiencing a ride booking boom named Grab Taxi through mobile app while
Female representation in Asia compared with western markets
1 Including Sweden, Norway, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Czech Republic, Italy, and Germany, some of which are not shown on this chart.
SOURCE: McKinsey proprietary database, 2011; annual reports
Women’s representation on boards, by
Women’s representation on executive
committees, by country
sitting at home. Uber is aggressively attacking Southeast Asia, while other similar services are fighting hard
to gain a strong foothold. Hooi Ling Tan developed a mobile app which connected customers directly to
taxi drivers via phone. The app was launched in 2012, which gained much popularity that is available in
21 cities across the region.
2. Dr. Kulsoom Abdullah, an Olympic Weightlifting Competitor,
Dr. Kulsoom Abdullah, an Olympic weightlifting competitor, and the first woman ever to compete in hijab
at the world weightlifting championships. Due to hijab, the International Weightlifting Federation
amended its rules in 2011, so that she could compete in hijab, as weightlifters are supposed to keep their
elbows and knees bare so judges can decide whether a lift was properly done.
3. Malala Yusuf Zai, Pakistani Activist for Female Education,
Malala Yusuf Zai, being youngest activist and Noble Prize winner, raised her voice for female education in
her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan despite Taliban’s threat. She is now running
movement for human rights issues on an international level, especially education of women in, where the
local Taliban stopped girls from attending school.
4. Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo and Entrepreneur,
Indra Nooyi, an Indian business woman and CEO of the PepsiCo, which is the fourth largest company of
the world. Despite existence of gender discrimination in society, she achieved a top management position
and consistently her name is included in the list of world’s most powerful woman due to her diligence and
determination and proved that no matter what your gender is or where you come from, all you need is
your will and commitment to achieve your dream.
5. Mileha Soneji, a Product Designer from India,
Mileha Soneji invented innovative items by designing process with emerging technologies to help people
suffering from Parkinson and to empower people who may be struggling with certain aspects of their lives
or bodies.
6. Benazir Bhutto, first women Prime Minister of Pakistan,
She was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan (1993-1996) and the first woman to head a Muslim state.
During her leadership, she ended military dictatorship in her country and fought for women rights. She
was assassinated in a suicide attack in 2007.

It has been revealed from the study that women participation in Southeast Asia as business leader in
recent times has been increased a lot despite existence of gender discrimination and various religious or
societal barriersin this world. Due to increased literacy rate in female, today’s women is more empowered
in terms of awareness of their rights and they proved themselves as a strategic partner and a sound
decision maker, which not only make them to stand with the men in this fast paced environment but also
they are equipped with skills to argue on issues which hinders their performance, being female. Now,
women are involved in every field along with men and empowered other young females to become
inspiration for others through their active contribution towards betterment of economy.

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