Scientists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore clinched the prestigious ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women 2021 for their outstanding professional achievements. Taking the theme of “Clean Water and Clean Air,” the prize sought to recognise women scientists who have made significant strides towards addressing air pollution and facilitating people’s access to safe water and sanitation in the region. The ASEAN talked to the winners, Dr. Li Hongying (midcareer scientist category) and Dr. Neni Sintawardani (senior scientist category), and honourable mention, Dr Aduwati Sali (mid-career scientist category), about their journeys as researchers and their aspirations for women scientists in ASEAN.
Ilaw Llanza Rosimo started her specialty store, Munting Ligaya, in Baguio City at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. What started as a way to earn extra income and keep herself occupied during the long lockdowns became a full-blown business, with both a physical store and online presence. Ilaw did not let the threat of COVID-19 and the difficulty of registering her business deter her from her goals.
A licensed architect by profession, 31-year-old Marie Ashley E. Mendoza had a full-time job and was pursuing her Masters’ degree in in Tropical Landscape Architecture when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. Ashley and her life partner/co-worker, William Giron, decided to set up a food business called PorkMaru Crispy Pata, after both of them lost their jobs due to the prolonged lockdown. Their business soon took off and was later featured in local media outlets.
Bali Island in Indonesia is often called the “Island of God” for its rich tradition and beautiful scenery. Attracting more than 6.5 million tourists from around the globe in 2019, it is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Its economy relies heavily on the tourism industry and many Balinese people depended on it for their livelihood as well. Ketut Putra Yasa is one of those who makes a living out of Bali’s lively tourism scene. As a private driver based in Ubud, Bali, most of his customers are foreign tourists, which is why his business was badly hit when the borders closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Born in a small village in the north of Viet Nam, Hoang Trong Giac or “Jack” completed a degree in Vietnamese culture and history, while simultaneously learning English, Chinese, and Spanish in college. Jack started his career as an adventure tour guide in Da Lat, taking visitors hiking, trekking, and mountain biking. He eventually moved to Ho Chi Minh City where he started his own tour business, Viet Nam Tour Guide (https://vietnamtourguide.com/en), after a short stint as an office worker. His tour business is among the thousands that shut down and took a financial hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bogi Dewanto has been working as a taxi driver for 20 years. Before the pandemic, his job provided him with comfortable wages and a flexible working arrangement. He is considered a “partner,” not an employee, of the taxi company. Bogi earns on a profit- sharing basis, and gets an additional bonus if he reaches a certain target income.
Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) form the backbone of ASEAN’s economies and provide jobs for millions of people. Dato’ Suriani Binti Dato’ Ahmad explains why it is crucial to help MSMEs become more competitive and resilient.
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