For centuries Asia was well-known for the dominance of men in all spheres of life. This disproportion has been changing with the rise of Asian economies. In step with the accelerating economic growth, Asia has been increasingly demonstrating the rising role of women in socio-economic life. For instance, in China, the explosion of the tech sector has made the country home to 114 of the world’s 150 self-made billionaire women. Neighboring Mongolia, the country at the heart of Central Asia, is no exception to that trend.
Mr. Battushig Batbold, Chairman of Altai Holding, one of the largest holding groups in Mongolia, has made the promotion of women to leading positions a company policy. The group that counts 10 companies, has six women as CEOs, all with distinguished records. The CEO of the retail chain Emart—part of Altai Holding and a franchisee of South Korea’s largest supermarket chain Emart— Mrs. Javzmaa Lkhagvasuren has been with the group in various key positions for almost twenty-two years. Javzmaa expertly leads Emart Mongolia to become the country’s fastest-growing and largest hypermarket chain offering an international-level customer experience. Another illustrative example is Skytel’s CEO Mrs. Narantuya Dash, who is a renowned telecommunications industry veteran with a remarkable 30-year experience in both the public and private sectors. Skytel mobile—the IPTV, OTT service provider— is at the forefront of Mongolia’s digitalization drive under Narantuya’s expert command. There are many other remarkable high-achieving women working for the subsidiaries and affiliates of the Altai Holding group with almost 70 percent of mid-level executive positions held by women.
The Harvard Business School graduate who returned from the USA after years of schooling to lead his family business in his home country, Battushig Batbold believes there should be even more women in Mongolia’s business community in leadership positions and in other sectors as well. A woman’s role in Mongolia’s nomadic livelihood historically was very significant as men engaged in warfare whereas women busied themselves with both family and state affairs. Jack Weatherford’s book published in 2011 “The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire” is a colorful testimony to this cultural phenomenon. Girls also outnumber boys, in some cases by as much as twice, in colleges and universities, and every other level of education. Last but not least is the fact is that there are very few religious or social hurdles on the way to women’s increased role in Mongolian society.
Despite these achievements in the business sector women, however, make up less than 20% of Mongolia’s parliament. Battushig, a member of the International Olympic Committee since July 2020, argues that there needs to be a conscientious promotion of women both in corporate board rooms and in other spheres with still predominant male political clout. Moving from words to deeds, as the team captain (chef de mission) for the Mongolian Olympic Team for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, he has emphasized that there should be a woman athlete as flagbearer. Mongolia Needs You, a nonprofit NGO founded by Battbold, which offers mentorship and scholarship opportunities to select students, also advocates gender equality, with more than two-thirds of the enrolled students being female. These efforts contribute to Mongolia’s success in promoting women to positions of leadership among its neighbors in East Asia.