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4 TEDx Talks to Inspire and Empower Southeast Asian Female Entrepreneurs

Beyoncé said it best: Who run the world? Girls.

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BY Lian Kyla Dyogi - 18 Apr 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Women in the workplace: a popular topic discussed in newspapers, amongst conversations with friends, or from prominent figures in the West such as Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington. While there have been female leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar and Corazon Aquino from the Philippines, Southeast Asia still has some work to do to become a place where its women can fully flourish and thrive in.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t already females who are doing work in their own communities.

Here four TEDx talks to get you inspired.


1. Dare to… empower and be empowered by Astrid Tuminez

As mentioned earlier, there is still some room for progress when it comes to bringing women more opportunities to become active participants in private and public sectors. Astrid Tuminez, in this 2015 TEDxChiang Mai talk, makes a case for why it’s important to empower women in Southeast Asia.

From leadership roles to being given more educational opportunities, Tuminez gives three suggestions as to how Asian societies can continue to support their women of all ages. If you want to help create better professional opportunities and environments for Southeast Asian females, this talk might spark some ideas.


2. My Immigration Story by Tan Le

There are numerous statistics, especially in the United States, of Asian immigrants. In the face of large numbers, it’s easy to forget the stories, and the people, these statistics represent. Tan Le, Vietnamese-Australian founder and CEO of Emotiv, weaves a poetic and moving tale of her family’s immigration to Australia as refugees from Vietnam in this TEDxWomen talk. “My first memories are from the boat---the steady beat of the engine, the bow dipping into each wave, the vast and empty horizon,” says Le.

While about her and her family’s history, the talk serves as Le’s origin story and an ode to the value of grit. For other Southeast Asian female immigrants looking to become entrepreneurs, you might find comfort in Le’s experience.


3. What Does it Take to Lead in the Digital Age? By Melanie Cook

What makes a leader? Is it grit, passion, and a great vision? In this 2015 TEDxSingapore talk, Melanie Cook tries to answer that question. In the talk, she shares her experience as a former employee and some experiences from the multiple employees she has interviewed. At the end of her research, Cook identified three characteristics that employees look for in their leaders: empathy, expertise, and decisiveness with collaboration.

Cook’s main point is that leaders need to listen to their employees more. Whether you’re a male or female leader, this is a valuable reminder, especially for a result- and metric-driven world.


4. My Affair with Chocolate by Raquel Choa

Similar in tone to Tan Le’s TEDx talk, Filipino entrepreneur Raquel Choa in this TEDxChiang Mai talk recounts the difficult circumstances she was able to overcome in order to become known as the “chocolate queen” in her town. She shares her family life before and after she got married at an early age. “Back home in Cebu city, Philippines, they call me the chocolate queen. I thought it was because I make the best chocolates…then I realize[d] it was also because I defied so many convention[s] as a woman and as a Filipino,” Choa says.

Hers serves as an inspiring tale and a peek into women’s potential if given the chance to shine. Even if Choa might be one among millions, Tuminez’ argument in her TEDx talk, rings true. If Southeast Asian societies continue to provide and nurture opportunities for their women, then perhaps we’ll see more women like Choa populating the TEDx talks of the future.

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