Every year on March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. Macau is home for many international women, whether born locally, from China, or from around the world.
This year International Women’s Day is celebrated under the #BeBoldForChange campaign. Macau Lifestyle is taking part in this global campaign and introducing you to some prominent Macau-based women. We sat down with each of them and asked some “bold” questions. The answers we got are open, real, and inspiring!
Stepping into the shoes of her brother was a tough challenge and a big change in the life of Eileen Stow, the resilient woman who was left in charge of the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery. She tackled the Macau business scene and created the brand it is today.
She explains how Lord Stow’s Bakery has tripled its size in the last twenty years and restructured the management of the company. Now boasting 165 employees from a variety of backgrounds, she wants to embolden them to make responsible decisions. Eileen hopes that by allowing them to have a voice, express and interact with the management, they learn more and achieve more in their lives. It’s the kind of legacy she wants to leave the company and not just be another employer.
This year we are celebrating IWD in Macau. What is your connection with Macau?
My brother Andrew was the first to arrive here in Macau. His career direction changed and that eventually led to the launch of Lord Stow’s Bakery. I was just visiting at that time as I was still living in England building my career in music. When he asked for my help and join him then, I never looked back. Macau has been very good to me and my family [smiles].
How does it feel to be a woman in Macau, what is your experience and what are the challenges?
I’ve never felt differentiated by being a woman in Macau. Maybe it’s by luck with the business that we had. However, I would say that when I came here I was viewed as Andrew’s sister so I had to push the fact that I was a lot more than that. You prove who you are and they accept who you are. I can only speak from my own perspective.
I am a single woman and view myself as blessed. I am at that stage of my life when I can make my own decisions and fight my own battles. I am not rich but I am comfortable with my life.
With your work and contribution, what inspires you?
That’s a good question [laughs]. The good sense of humanity always inspires me. When you show or receive kindness unexpectedly, that’s just moving. I still believe people are good souls.
The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. While it is still 2017, what makes women different and so important at this time?
Education and education. My grandmother was adamant for women to be educated so she made sure of that and I recognize that. I also think it’s the fellowship of women sticking together. We need to fight any injustices by believing in each other. You have to treat somebody as you want to be treated. That’s the only way you progress in humanity.
Social media as well plays a big part of it. You become aware of things happening all over the world. You see both positive and negative images and you contemplate that and form your own stand on things and issues.
This year IWD is celebrated under #BeBoldForChange campaign. What “bold” actions can we do today to help drive gender parity?
Don’t be blind by what’s around us. A small drop in an ocean makes a difference. We can all do something about everything. I truly believe that it’s a small group of actions that make things happen. Do one job and another job and another one until you reach your goal or even make a global difference.
Helping someone with a scholarship to gain an education, that’s small but crucial. It doesn’t have to be superlative because the small things matter. I just saw women being taught how to read and the joy in their faces—it was heartwarming.
What was your bold moment? How did you do it? What motivated you? What difference did it make? How can others learn from this?
My boldest moment was coming to work the day after my brother passed away. I knew that it was the whole reason I came here, to keep his legend continuing. The grief was all-encompassing unless you experience it yourself and I tried to remember how difficult that was for me to cope without his presence. You don’t anticipate that six months down the line or years and you’re still in grief. He was my brother, best friend, and business partner and losing him was a big challenge and makes me the woman I am today. Out of the pain that I endured, I managed to achieve something.
In your daily life, how do you balance all the woman’s roles?
I try my best with my time management as I am involved with other organizations as well. I see myself as the bridge builder and problem solver within my circle and associations and I try to make a positive impact. Balancing the past and the future with my niece Audrey, my brother Andrew’s daughter – she follows her own passion and I am proud of that.
What is the message you’d like to share with all the women out there?
Look beneath the surface of everyone you meet. You have can have a diverse set of friends from different fields and backgrounds but you’ll always find a connection with someone. When you do, you must value that.
To read more #BeBoldForChange inspiring interviews follow the hashtag #BeBoldForChange.