Aliyakone Singthilath, LXML IT Superindent, on International Women's Day 2023

March 20, 2023

The theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) in 2023 is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”.

In your opinion, how can digital technology and innovation deliver greater gender equality?

Digital technology plays an integral part in socio-economic development in Laos and internationally. It empowers and increases gender equality when access is made available to platforms that can reduce inequality, such as banking and employment. Access to digital devices and technologies can offer additional employment opportunities, income, and knowledge for all.

In jobs you have worked in, or in areas of society, have you seen issues of equality evolve over time?

In my field of work in the past, I have seen that culture, gender norms and perceptions of technology can hinder women from taking part.  Our field of work is mostly dominated by men, which creates a false impression of inferiority among women in the ICT field.

Nowadays it is seen differently because digital technology and innovation will thrive by embracing diversity. Tech people can challenge each other and bring new perspectives. These cannot be achieved without women. Therefore, digital technologies offer women and men access to new jobs and professions equally. It also encourages women to become a stronger voice in their communities, their government, and at the global level. Digital technologies offer women flexibility in time and space and can be of value to women who face social isolation.

However, there is always good and bad for everything, and the same applies to digital technology. One pitfall I have seen with digital technology is due to increasing availability and access to technology from people from all ages and all genders. Most users are quite naïve and have low understanding on privacy and cyber security. Some have become victims to hacker attacks on blackmailing, scamming, and ransoming, as well as cyber bullying. This is becoming a social issue as it is harmfully affecting people’s mental, emotion and physical health. In extreme cases, these crimes can even lead to people taking their own lives. So, if we use technology in the right way it can push a person to the top and if not, it can drag a person down mentally and physically at the same time.

What are some of the challenges you face in your role, and what have you learned from these?

Challenges I face in my role regarding gender equality is creating a gender-balanced team. I believe that a gender-balanced team can provide more diversity which can boost performance at the business level. This is because men and women see things differently and bring unique ideas to the table, it can enable better problem-solving approach. However, it is challenging because having the right fit of women and work requirements – women who are willing to work away from home and living in men dominated environment – is so scarce.

What advice would you have for women working in the mining industry to succeed in their careers?

My advice to women working in the mining industry would be for them to be open-minded to opportunities and adventures. If you have a mindset that working in the mining industry is a kind of learning and adventurous opportunities, you will gain happiness in working life and that will bring about success to your career. Another thing, you need to believe that nothing is impossible, and you have the power and ability to do anything that your heart desires - do not let outside voices be louder than your inner voice. Finally, I wish all women in all industries a Happy International Women's Day.

Any other thoughts you have on International Women’s Day?

Let’s not just make International Women’s Day a day for our women. But make everyday a day for all women