Dr Sharifah Shukran, or better known as Anna Sue in the fashion world, has always focused her efforts on empowering women in the business industry. As a certified Ph.D holder in business administration, she regularly coaches women through trainings and talks, providing them guidance to venture into entrepreneurship.
Fostering economic independence for women
Anna Sue believes that women empowerment is the process of giving ‘power’ to ensure that women can make changes, have control over their lives and are able to actively participate in social, political and economic fields.
Anna continued to elaborate, “Women empowerment is the process of enhancing the capabilities of women, for them to have a ‘voice’, make choices and transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes.”
Having been in the business since 2009, she concluded that the increasing number of women actively involved in business recently is due to the utilisation of e-commerce. “Men are no longer the sole breadwinner as women are now equally educated and they can demonstrate their knowledge and capabilities to make a living on their own and be financially and economically independent.”
To her, women taking their part in economy across all sectors is essential, “Not just to build stronger economies, achieve goals for development and sustainability, but also to improve the quality of life for women, families and communities.”
Apart from that, she also explained in details why women should be empowered to join the business industry:
To promote an overall development of society
The world is constantly changing these days and women no longer holds a traditional role. Women are out there in the employment arena and in business. They should be given an equal opportunity to perform where they ought to. Thus, society should accept that fact and women should, in no way, be deprived of adequate development.
To grant women economic independence
Women who are educated and skilled deserved to earn their own living without having to be dependent on others. It is for their own good, that if anything happen in their lives, they are ready. Thus, it is crucial to foster economic independence among women since they have the capacity to perform and add to the economic benefits of the society apart from exhibiting economic independence themselves.
To get rid of poverty
Granting economic independence to women also serves in contributing to the economic benefits of the household and the society as a whole. With today’s high cost of living, pressure on one individual to support the whole family can be too much to bear. Hence, it is only right that the burden be shared amongst one another to provide better living, to ensure that the family can live comfortably and the children have access to good education. In a bigger picture, it can gradually uproot poverty by facilitating proper distribution of wealth per household and prevent social problems.
Women have talents and special skills
Certain jobs are unable to reach their best capacities without the participation of women. It is the very sentiment of nurturing, softness and warmth in some women in fields like non-governmental organisations, nursing, early childhood education, handicrafts, beauty lines and related jobs that is vital for the system to function in order to achieve the ideals.
Breaking the stereotypes
We need women empowerment today in order to bring about a change to the world and break stereotypes to assist in the greater benefit of the society, the nation and the world as a whole.
As an experienced business person, Anna said that there is a much more welcoming space for women entrepreneurs nowadays. The number of female business founders and owners have increased dramatically in recent years, and the impact of businesses with women is very significant in terms of revenues and job creation.
Anna herself had diversified her business from the start, establishing a tuition centre and retail boutiques. However, due to the emergence of internet marketing in 2012, she suffered the impact and closed down both businesses, turning to a handmade jewellery business operating from home.
The small home business gradually grew, and she became actively involved in fashion events. She was awarded the ‘Sarawak Best Designer of the year 2019’ and was listed as one of the finalists of Anugerah Usahawan Bumiputera Sarawak.
Based on her experience, Anna gladly shared several tips for women in business:
Be in contact with a mentor or a strong role model.
Admiring women in senior positions can help build self-confidence. Sharing stories and experiences has always been one of the most effective ways to change mindsets and provoke action.
Constantly improve yourself in education, knowledge and skills.
Be an expert in your field of choice so that people know what they are dealing with and to be acknowledged and well-respected.
Find the support you need
Part of building a sustainable business is fostering a community around you on which you can lean on for inspiration, education, and support. Be involved and build networks with the community, NGOs, related government agencies and entrepreneurs association. Meeting people can help in building confidence too. Don’t be afraid to get to know people especially group of like-minded business owners and surround yourself with positive-thinking entrepreneurs.
Believe in yourself, your capabilities, and you can achieve your own success.