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AmCham panel highlight the importance of building confidence in young women to take up leadership roles in Cambodia’s business community

The American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia’s (AmCham) hosted a panel discussion yesterday to highlight the benefits of female leadership and how to encourage more young women to take leadership opportunities in Cambodia’s business community.

The four panelists were Sophia Altamirano from Raffles Cambodia, Priti Rahul Jitani from VE Healthcare Group, Kathryn O’Connell and moderator Kim Tol Tan. The event was titled “AmCham Women’s Leadership in Critical Times’’.

Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia’s Women’s Committee, Kim Tol Tan told Cambodian Investment Review that there are many young Cambodian women who are aspired to be leaders and have great potentials that can be nurtured into the new generation of business leaders, however many lacked the confidence to step up.

“The Cambodian business community has a tremendous pool of young women, but when it comes to applying for top positions, many lack the self-confidence and soft skills required to reach their full potential,” Tan added.

“What the local business community should consider is providing more mentorship and formal training specifically for women to equip young women with the skills and confidence needed for them to step up and succeed in leadership positions,” she says.

In addition, the panel highlighted that building relationships with staff to enhance both soft and technical skills as well as giving employees a voice in the workplace were key skills for female leaders to implement.

According to an Asian Development Bank report, “in Cambodia despite the numbers in terms of business ownership, women have lower levels of agency than men, who dominate the Government-Private Sector Forum and chambers of commerce.”

“Women in microenterprises are not represented in policy formulation. Cultural norms and greater domestic responsibilities also mean that female entrepreneurs are less able than men to exercise agency, engage in networking, and obtain important business information and contacts,” the report stated.

In Cambodia women own almost two-thirds of the nation’s micro-businesses, but less than a fifth of all small businesses and just a third of its medium-sized ones. There are currently no female leaders of the prominent international business chamber in Cambodia.

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