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Indonesia’s female bankers show Asia how it’s done

For proof of the power of female role models, look at Indonesia: the country is confounding stereotypes and narrowing the gender gap.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Photo: Getty

When it comes to women on the global stage, Indonesia features two of the biggest names in policymaking. Few finance ministers work a room with greater aplomb than Sri Mulyani Indrawati, a former World Bank managing director who is one of Asia’s most powerful women.

At Bank Indonesia, senior deputy governor Destry Damayanti is overseeing one of the globe’s most tantalizing experiments of the Covid-19 era: a central bank buying debt directly from the national government. And, of course, Megawati Sukarnoputri was Indonesia’s first female president, from 2001 to 2004.

Thankfully, these cracks in the glass ceiling are rubbing off on Indonesia’s financial sector, which ranks well among global peers when it comes to female chiefs. Or, is it the other way around? In Grant Thornton International’s latest Women in Business report, Indonesia ranked fourth in women in senior positions, its 37% share just behind the Philippines, South Africa and Poland.

“Having those role models actually helps a lot – in the sense that we can benchmark ourselves,” says Andjarsari Paramaditha, a senior manager at Bank Mandiri, where she oversees research at the Mandiri Institute.

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