For the period of 2016-2020, Vietnam aims to increase the number of female representation in government positions to at least 35 percent. To achieve this target, many capacity building initiatives to increase the participation and promotion of women to senior leadership positions are implemented. 

MDF Asia Vietnam office was invited by UNDP Women Leadership Empowerment project to deliver a Leadership training workshop for 35 women of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). MDF discussed various leadership topics at the workshop such as the difference between managers and leaders and personal leadership styles. However, the topic that interested them most was “Gender and Leadership: does it matter?”. It discussed issues like who is more ambitious, organised, cooperative, or corrupt, men or women? 

The ladies were very enthusiastic and worked extremely hard. They realised that stereotypes like ‘ men are more ambitious', and ‘ women are most cooperative', are mostly based on perceptions and not on hard evidence. They felt more confident after the workshop and produced a clear action plan of their own. 

An interesting fact is that all women managers of MOFA were wearing lipstick. Susanne van Lieshout, the MDF trainer who delivered the training workshop shared: “The workshop started out as a regular Leadership training. But soon enough I noticed that the women in Vietnam like...lipstick. They’re all very well dressed in stilettos and cute little dresses. They regarded me (“teacher”) as a model. We took many photos, and before each photo: a lipstick moment. It became such a thing that I changed the workshop title to “Lipstick and Leadership”. It even opened up a deeper level of understanding about female leadership: you can dress like a lady but act like a boss! 

We believe the training has contributed to achieving the Vietnam target of 35 percent of women’ s representation at the national level of 2016-2020 and that these 35 beautiful and fashionable women will help to make it happen. 

For more insight, watch these videos: 

The Career Advice Many Women did not get by Susan Colantuono
Five Mistakes Women in a Leadership role make by Eleanor Shakiba

For more information about the training, please contact our office in Vietnam or call +84 24 6258 4438.