Empowering Girls: Spotlight on Women Leaders in ASEAN STEM

7 February 2024 ─ SEAMEO STEM-ED, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL) came together to commemorate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by hosting a hybrid seminar (at Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna in Chiang Mai, Thailand and YouTube channel with over 1,000 participants joining at RMUTL auditorium and online). This event showcased a vibrant array of national women and girls, each embodying diversity and excelling in their respective fields. This event was also celebrated as a part of the ILO Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme with support from J.P. Morgan.

In a dynamic collaboration among the three leading agencies, their primary objective was to illuminate the path to success for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). During the opening remarks, Akiko Sakamoto, the ILO’s Regional Skills Development and Employability Specialist, underscored the significance of women in the STEM workforce and emphasised how empowering women with essential technical skills, alongside invaluable soft STEM-related competencies, acts as a driving force for professional advancement.

“If you really look at the list of the top future jobs and skills, they are dominated by STEM. So in this context, equipping the current and future workers with STEM skills and knowledge is really critical to enable them to seize a new opportunity created by technological advancement, but also to be resilient in a rapidly changing world of work,” the Employability expert stressed.

SEAMEO Secretariat Director Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim also shared her determination in the opening statement about the challenges facing Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions in equipping students with STEM-related skills to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She further stated this important gathering united representatives from government, industry, and academia ─ which is crucial for ensuring a workforce prepared for the future.

The SEAMEO Secretariat Director said, “This forum is an excellent opportunity to exchange effective practices and learn from each other's experiences in integrating STEM into TVET, something that is essential to ensure a future-ready workforce. The first step in integrating STEM in TVET is redefining what constitutes a STEM workforce,” while highlighting that integrating STEM in TVET necessitates the review of the current landscape of TVET and STEM, understanding the needs of the industries and the workforce ─ while looking at the programs currently offered. First, the establishment of a technical working group to develop a joint regional strategic plan for STEM workforce readiness.”

Meanwhile, this hybrid seminar also included an overview of STEM in TVET in the ASEAN region, along with a summary presentation of the Experts Meeting on STEM in TVET. Additionally, Panel Conversation 1 focused on enhancing women's leadership in STEM within the ASEAN context, while Panel Conversation 2 centered on strategies to empower women and girls in STEM fields.

Additionally, the event strives to advance career opportunities in STEM by facilitating discussions on professional growth and employment prospects. Special emphasis will be placed on initiatives spearheaded by the Southeast Asian women in STEM program, fostering an environment conducive to career development. Furthermore, the webinar endeavors to establish a platform for networking and visibility, connecting women role models in STEM across ASEAN. Furthermore, it promoted the presence of accomplished women in these fields, serving as inspirational figures for the next generation.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Kritsachai Somsaman, Director of the SEAMEO STEM-ED Centre, emphasized the invaluable contributions of women in STEM. Today, we have the privilege of hearing the enduring stories of women who have carved paths into the world of science and technology. Through their narratives, we witness not only their successes but also the pivotal role of STEM as a powerful testament to meeting the demands of our ever-changing world.

“As we conclude today, I would like to echo our speakers in saying that let’s keep our conversation going, let’s keep our curiosities alive, and let's carry forward the insights and inspiration from today’s stories. Together, we can make our world more inclusive, equitable, and empower women and girls in STEM. Let’s continue moving forward together, and let's contribute to a world where every woman and girl can fulfill their full potential,” SEAMEO STEM-ED Director said.


The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015, to recognize the critical role women and girls play in science and promote gender equality in STEM fields. This initiative was championed by organisations such as UNESCO and UN Women, along with numerous governments and stakeholders globally, as part of broader efforts to advance women's rights and opportunities in all areas of society.

More information: https://www.un.org/en/observances/women-and-girls-in-science-day

ILO is The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that focuses on promoting social justice and fair labor practices worldwide. Established in 1919, the ILO develops and sets international labor standards, encourages decent working conditions, and fosters social protection and dialogue between employers, workers, and governments to address global labor challenges. The organisation aims to advance the well-being of workers globally and promote equal opportunities, fair wages, and humane working conditions.

More information: https://www.ilo.org/global/

RMUTL is Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL) stands as Thailand's premier institution for vocational education. With a commitment to fostering students of global caliber, RMUTL equips them with the practical skills to apply scientific and technological principles in their respective fields. This is achieved through an immersive, hands-on learning approach that prepares graduates for real-world challenges.

More information about RMUTL: https://www.rmutl.ac.th/

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