Women Leaders Share Personal Experiences On Gender Issues

Explain an experience or event that you encountered where you felt belittled? What decision was made against you because of your gender and how was the issue addressed?
07 Mar 2019 15:32
Women Leaders Share Personal Experiences On Gender Issues
From left Renu Chand, Premila Kumar, Loraine Seeto and Kalpana Lal.

The Fiji Institute of Accountants organised an inaugural Women in Leadership Series held at the Holiday Inn, Suva on Monday.

The aim of the series was to pro­mote women’s participation in more management positions and give the opportunity for women to not only share their experiences but also learn from women leaders like Min­ister for Industry, Trade and Tour­ism Premila Kumar, FIA executive director Beverly Seeto, Chartered Accountant and KPMG partner Renu Chand, Reserve Bank of Fiji chief manager governor’s Office Lorraine Seeto, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, (German International Cooperation – GIZ) head of administration and finance and Fijian Holdings Group Board Director, Kalpana Lal. The se­ries is a build-up toward the Interna­tional Women’s Day on Friday.

Below are excerpts from the series where the panelists were asked to share their experiences on gender disparity.

Explain an experience or event that you encountered where you felt belittled? What decision was made against you because of your gender and how was the issue addressed?

“While working for the Department of Environment I was invited for a meeting by the Permanent Secretary of Finance. I walked in and the room was full of men, so I sat on an empty chair. He started off with the introduction around the table and he didn’t want me to introduce myself, but I got up and introduced myself. Instead of being embarrassed I embarrassed the other person and that strategy did work. Gender issues such as discrimination and the sheer low number of women in boards and are still debates that attract everyone’s attention.”

Premila Kumar
Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism


“When I was first appointed to chief manager at the Reserve Bank of Fiji during the first executive meeting, I sat at the sit where I thought it was comfortable to sit. Then someone said that was where the RBF Governor sits. I just sat there and the meeting went forward. Firstly I am a woman sitting at the meeting which was always a boys club and I think they have learnt to comprehend me rather than me comprehending them. The confidence that you must have should say that you are equal and when you rise to the occasion they will realise that you are their match.”

Loraine Seeto
Chief Manager Governor’s Office , Reserve Bank of Fiji


“When I first came to Fiji in 2005, I attended a meeting for banks. They told my colleague, Michael that it was great he had brought a secretary to write the minutes. I responded saying, I am a partner and I looked after the business services practice and then I chaired the meeting. The support for me has been from my network and the men in my life. We need to be empowering and inspiring our women to make sure they know how we can work.”

Renu Chand
Partner, KPMG


“After my parents went through divorce, it was not an easy thing to go through, it posed me with alot of challenges. I made a pact to myself that I will not let something like that let me down, I will succeed and live up to my aspirations. From my experience you never look down upon a woman and you never doubt their capabilities.”

Kalpana Lal
Head of Administration and Finance, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, German International Cooperation (GIZ), Fiji

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