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Women in Leadership: Breaking Barriers and Driving Innovation 

Finally, the time has come for women to step up and be recognized. In a world where men have traditionally dominated leadership positions, some remarkable women have managed to break through these barriers. Think of Angela Merkel, Jacinda Arden, or Hillary Clinton. But let’s not overlook the influential Indonesian Srikandi, who have made significant changes in history. One such outstanding figure is Susi Pujiastuti, the former Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia (2014-2019). 

What is Women Leadership? 

Women’s leadership is a revolutionary culture promoting gender equality in leading organizations. It represents the long and hard-fought battle for women to be acknowledged and granted rights equal to men finally. However, women’s journey into leadership roles has not been without challenges and opposition from society, sometimes even from women themselves. There are still misconceptions that women are unsuitable or lack the necessary capacity to lead compared to men. 

Where to Begin? 

From entrepreneur to minister, Susi Pujiastuti’s story is exceptional. Born and raised in Pangandaran, West Java, she owned companies named after herself before her ministerial appointment. President Joko Widodo appointed Susi Pujiastuti as Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in his working cabinet on 26 October 2014. 

Fun fact: Susi was the first Indonesian minister never to complete high school education, but she enrolled in the Upper High School Program after taking office and officially graduated in 2018. 

Not only exceptional but also unstoppable. 

A quote on the blackboard is written, “This is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”

What Happened When She Leads? 

Before we delve into her leadership accomplishments, it’s important to acknowledge her exceptional story.  

Illegal fishing poses one of the most significant threats to sustainable fisheries, and Susi had to confront it head-on. Displaying zero tolerance for unlawful fishing anywhere, she did not hesitate to blow up unregistered vessels that entered Indonesian territory. Under her adaptive leadership, 488 illegal fishing vessels have been seized and destroyed since 2014. 

Beyond blowing up ships, Susi’s commitment to protecting marine resources was demonstrated through the issuance of Minister of Maritime Affairs Regulation Number 2 of 2015, which prohibited trawls and seine nets. She also banned the export of lobster seeds, recognizing that exporting them could lead to ecological damage due to high demand abroad, causing massive exploitation.  

These efforts bore fruit as research published in Nature indicated that Susi’s aggressive policies against illegal fishing reduced fishing efforts by 25% and potentially increased catches by 14% and profits by 12%. Her impact on the country was nothing short of remarkable. 

She proved that “Bold is beautiful.” In a realm where politicians are often labeled hypocritical, Susi stood out by taking real-time actions to overcome challenges and not hesitating to make enemies. This is why she was listed in BBC 100 Women 2017 and recognized as the Creative & Innovative Person of the Year: Indonesia Choice Awards 2018. Throughout her leadership era, she earned numerous awards and accolades. 

“You have to remove the barriers from your mind first. Men and women are equal; act that way. If you are still busy discussing your gender differences, you can’t move forward.” – Susi Pujiastuti. 

The hardest part of women’s leadership is imposter syndrome, wherein doubt in one’s competency and feeling unqualified can hinder progress. However, a landmark 1992 meta-analysis of 61 studies by Eagly found that women leaders exhibited more transformative leadership styles. According to the results, they are more likely to express positive views about the organization and inspire people to follow the mission compared to men. This fact should serve as an inspiration to move forward and break barriers. 

Let’s not forget the importance of “women supporting women.” Women must support and respect each other. Susi Pujiastuti exemplified this ethos by leading the way as the first and only female Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in Indonesian history—hats off to her for showing us how capable women can be as leaders. 


Women’s leadership refers to women taking on leadership roles and positions of authority in different sectors. 

It is essential for achieving gender equality and promoting diversity in leadership. Women leaders bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences, leading to more inclusive and balanced decision-making processes. It also empowers women to break gender stereotypes. 

Women in leadership often encounter challenges such as gender bias, discrimination, unequal opportunities, work-life balance struggles, and a lack of representation at higher levels of management. Stereotypes and cultural norms can hinder their advancement, making it crucial to address these barriers for greater gender equality. 

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