Zakiah: Girl Who Dreams Big for Indonesian Girls

Amru Aginta Sebayang20 Des 2021

Zakiah (left) was chosen for the #GirlsTakeOver program as the Country President of AstraZeneca Indonesia for a day. (Picture source: Youtube Plan Indonesia Official Channel)

“I want to be a teacher because sharing knowledge is a need.” Said Zakiah (16). Everyday, the 11th grade student in a highschool in Northern Jakarta attends online classes and some extracurricular activities. Also, she’s a member of OSIS (Students’ Council), Youth Health Programme (YHP), a youth health education program through peer education methods. YHP was held in collaboration with the Plan International Indonesia (Plan), CISDI, and Lentera Anak Foundation.

Zakiah has always been taught by her mother about independence and honesty. Thus, as a peer education, she has a great concern on women rights, that women and men have the same potential to be a leader in the future. “As long as we (women) are capable and have the will to develop, we can also become leaders.” she said.

Few months ago, Zakiah sent the required files and wrote an essay to join the #GirlsTakeOver program, a program by Plan Indonesia that promotes female inclusion in the workplace. In this program, the girls have the opportunity to be a high-ranking officer in one of the government agencies for a day. “I was just dabbling. Never thought I would be selected. I can’t believe I am finally here. ” she said. There were thousands of applicants and 7 applicants went to the interview section. Only she made it to be the main finalist. She would be the Country President AstraZeneca in a day, replacing Sewhan Chon on October 8th, 2021.

Became a President in a day

Being the leader of AstraZeneca Indonesia was not easy for Zakiah. She had to lead the town hall meeting that was attended by the directors of AstraZeneca. Thus, she had prepared herself with Plan Indonesia and always brought a note that she could read anytime.

Meeting with other #GirlsTakeOver winners helped build her up. They were also the one-day-leaders of other institutions. “Meeting other amazing #GirlsTakeOver girls made me really excited.”

In the town hall meeting that day, she mentioned her mother that always tells her how a woman can also be a leader in the future, as she is right now, “I always see my mom as the best women’s teacher in my life. A great mother will create a great woman.” she said.

“I want to show that women can perform as good as men without any gender restriction.” Said she. 

Involvement of women in senior positions is still far from ideal. According to the Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, there are only 22.10% of companies in Indonesia that have women in their managerial positions. It also mentions that currently, Indonesia is ranked 101 out of 156 countries with the highest gender issues.


A Peer Educator

Long before joining the #GirlsTakeOver program, Zakiah has been a peer educator for YHP. Her confidence and critical thinking have also escalated, especially after being a one-day president director.. Even on the National Health Day on November 12th, she was asked to be the MC and explain to 200 students about healthy lifestyle at the Healthy Days event in her school.

“I started to be appointed as the event leader or the MC for any YHP and school events. I was also asked for an interview or to make a podcast.” she said. 

She admitted that she used to be a shy person and her English was not very good. However, she tried to solve her problems through many ways. One of them is by joining Plan Indonesia that has helped her with her English.

She said, “We have to try, the result is not the sole concern.” 

She has a big dream for other women. She wants to be a teacher and volunteer in the future so she can continue to inspire women to try new things and take an important role. Thus, she started it by joining the YHP and other programs. “Never be scared to try new things. As long as we have great will, we can.” said Zakiah.