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Shiseido Empowers Marginalised Young Women in Asia Pacific

Girls Learning & Leading Program Launches in Cambodia

October 24, 2019 — Shiseido Asia Pacific, in partnership with The Asia Foundation, officially announces the launch of the Girls Learning & Leading Program (GLL), which aims to equalize access to education, opportunity and mentorship for marginalized women in Southeast Asia.

Greater access to education is one proven way to ensure that young women can lift themselves and their families out of poverty and better contribute to the development of their communities and their country. Cambodia is the program’s inaugural location—a rapidly changing nation, where education is a key component of its development goals. Building on the Foundation’s two decades of on-the-ground experience in Cambodia, the program’s pilot phase runs from May to December 2019, and provides scholarships to female students giving them access to secondary education, mentorship, and career pathways.

Equalizing access in Cambodia

While Cambodia has made strides in offering equal access to education for boys and girls, a substantial gender disparity remains. The literacy rate is 70.9% for adult females and 85.1% for adult males in Cambodia. Females make up more than half the population but represent a minority of university graduates. Proactive measures in combatting poverty, cultural norms, and access to schools in rural Cambodia are necessary to keep girls in secondary school.

Shiseido Girls Learning & Leading Program

The pilot phase of the GLL Program kicks off in Cambodia in 2019 and is designed to improve retention and completion of girls’ secondary education a critical time when young women are most likely to drop out of school to find paying jobs. Guided by Shiseido’s global corporate mission of Beauty Innovations for a Better World, the company continues to take concrete actions to drive social change in areas such as women’s empowerment—a crucial philosophy underlying the business and management of Shiseido’s empowerment—a crucial philosophy underlying the business and management of Shiseido.

This year, Shiseido and The Asia Foundation will provide scholarships to 102 female students from the ages of 16 to 19 studying in grades 10 – 12 at Norodom Secondary School in rural Prey Veng province, a 2.5-hour drive from the capital, through this program. Designed as a comprehensive support system for the young female scholars, the program focuses on four key pillars:

  • Material support: Students receive material support for their basic, practical needs including books, stationery, and rice for their families, which help lift an often-daunting economic burden.
  • Soft-skills development: Training of critical soft skills, such as leadership, communication skills, critical thinking, problem solving, and team building, as well as mentoring support for tertiary education & career pathways. The scholars then apply these skills in short, impactful action projects.
  • Academic support: English language training, extracurricular classes in STEM subjects such as mathematics and science.
  • Mentorship: Shiseido and local Cambodian mentors serve as positive role models and a support network for the scholars, inspiring and providing them a safe space to share their challenges, experiences and ideas.

Jean-Philippe Charrier, president & CEO, Shiseido Asia Pacific, said, “Women are the heart and soul of Shiseido’s business. I firmly believe that beauty can change the world; and that we as a company are well-placed to make a lasting, positive impact that equalizes the opportunities for young women and empowers them through learning and mentorship. Through our strong partnership with The Asia Foundation, I hope the Girls Learning & Leading Program will enable our young Cambodian scholars to successfully obtain a higher education, learn critical leadership and soft skills that will secure a better future for them and their families.”

Meloney Lindberg, Cambodia country representative for The Asia Foundation, also added: “Cambodia’s decade-long path of private sector-driven growth has yielded important but uneven development benefits for citizens. Women and poor communities remain especially vulnerable. With Shiseido’s crucial support, together we are seeing a vital shift in the girls’ school retention and academic performance, and are equipping themselves with the skills and self-confidence to transform their lives.”

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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Related locations: Cambodia
Related programs: Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality
Related topics: Education

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