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OUR STORY
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Mongolian Women’s Federation
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TRAILBREAKER

TRAILBREAKER

We present you an interview with Ms. Enkhjargal Danzanbaljir, the Board Member of the Mongolian Women’s Federation, International Banking and Financial Expert-Advisor.

Having graduated with honors from the Irkutsk Institute of National Economy (today’s “Baikal State University”), graduated by a prominent political and state leader of Mongolia Tsedenbal Yumjaa, the Ministers of Finance and Presidents of the Central Bank of Mongolia, she began her career from the settlement center of the CENTRAL Bank of Mongolia and rose to the position of Permanent Representative of the Mongolbank in London, the world financial center, and more than thirty years of her life she devoted to the banking and financial sector development.

Ms. Enkhjargal from her childhood was actively involved in expanding and developing the activities of the Mongolian Women's Organization and today she is the Vice-President for the Asia-Pacific Region of the Socialist International Women, elected for a second term. In honor of her experience in the advanced fronts of the Mongolian women's organization and the banking and financial sector, we called our interview “Trailbreaker”...

- Our childhood is left behind, retaining a lot of pleasant memories. We want you to return to your childhood years through our conversation.

- Yes of course. I was born in the city of Ulaanbaatar. During my school years, along with my studies, I was interested in art and attended a dance group at the Pioneer’s Palace. I was a member of the dance group “Swallow” at the Palace of Culture of the Mongolian Trade Union, and our team won gold and silver medals at the National Art Festivals. At school, I studied Russian language Mathematics, Physics in depth, and after graduating school No. 45, I was highest scoring pupil among graduates. I was class president, the head of the Student board, a member of the women's committee; in general, I was a socially active student. And our family has been working and living, like all other families during the socialist time...

- You are one of the valuable professionals and experts of the banking and financial sector in Mongolia. Your leadership is rooted in your childhood. Where and how did you study in banking and finance?

- I had a dream to inherit my father's profession, since I was a “father's daughter”, so I set a goal to enter the best university in finance, which was completed by the leaders of the banking and financial sector of Mongolia of that time. Therefore, I entered the Irkutsk Institute of National Economy. This institution of higher education prepared the best professionals of Mongolia of that time. Although I studied Russian at the school in depth, after entering without a preparatory course, reading and understanding of the first and second volumes of “Capital” by Karl Marx was not easy. But thanks to helpful Russian fellow students and professors, I graduated from the university with honors. At that time, Higher Mathematics was the easiest course for me. When I solved all the problems from the textbook on Further mathematics, left a few difficult problems and showed the professor, she told me: “Go home to rest. No need to solve further”. Since in those years of industrialization, especially heavy industry, was actively introduced and developed in Russia, we studied a steel production process. At that time, this industry seemed to us as the distant future. But today I am proud of my university, for what we were educated from the initial stages and taught the main key instruments of the development of each economic sector and the industrialization of today's Mongolia.

- Russia played a significant role in your education and personal development. Of course, your effort and hardworking cannot be missed. Please name the largest investment you have made in yourself.

- In the second year I started to attend an English course. At that time, Russian universities and institutes taught its Russian students German and English. And foreign students were advised to study the Russian language. When I began to learn English, I was told: “You are a foreign student. Therefore, you can not attend”. But by the stipend of Sukhbaatar’s scholarship I studied English at the Officers’ Palace of Irkutsk city. I began to learn English on a paid basis. And at the same time, I studied the Russian language in depth, and after graduating I received the second diploma of the Russian Language Teacher. Along with all these, I attended the Institute of Marxism and Leninism for two years in the evening classes and successfully completed with a certificate of Lecturing in Social and Economics subjects . The Irkutsk city has laid a solid foundation for my personal and career growth and it is the source of my professional success. Therefore, I am very proud of Russian education, and also grateful to the program for foreign students and the opportunity that they provided for us. When I was studying for a master’s degree at Vanderbilt University in the USA, the scholarships of the USAID were not enough, so I had to spend all the earnings, which I received from my work at the World Bank. The knowledge gained there has played an important role in today's Enkhjargal.

- You, as a graduate in Banking, even with knowledge of English and Russian, what job  have you been assigned after graduation?

- At that time, new graduates were not taken anywhere in leadership positions. The youth who graduated from a higher educational institution came to work from the lowest position in the relevant department and organization, and gradually rose in position. In my last year at the university I was pregnant with my son and after graduation I came home with “three reds”: “red” newborn, “red” diploma and “red” certificate of MPRP (MPP). And in 1986, I was appointed as an accountant at the city branch of the Government (State) Bank responsible for the control of inter-branch transactions. At that time, 29 settlement centers of the State Bank operated in Ulaanbaatar city.

- On what scale did the State Bank work at that time? The role of this organization, which “ the key to the treasury” of Mongolia, is great in the development of Mongolia.

- When I was appointed to work for the State Bank’s General Committee, the Bank was implementing a policy for the loan support of the construction sector. The bank provided a loan with the interest rate of 0.5% per annum to the construction companies which were building the National Center for Mother and Child Health, nine-story apartment buildings in Ulaanbaatar. Soon Mongolia switched to a market economy, and the bank split into a two-tier system, consisting of the CENTRAL BANK and COMMERCIAL BANKS. For us, who studied the socialist economy, the process of transition to a market economy was difficult. In my student years, I studied the capitalist economy for only one semester. Therefore, I looked through my books and notes again, was sitting in the Central State Library and studied the capitalist economy again, studied publications about the Central bank. And thus contributed to the establishment of the main instruments of the monetary policy of today's Central Bank. I devoted my knowledge, the results of my study and research to determine the key policy rate of the Central bank, securities, reserves requirement, and implemented in the practice. In the 1990s, specialists with knowledge of the English became in demand in Mongolia, so I traveled to abroad and participated in concluding contracts with international organizations.

- You are known as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Mongolia. Of course, the position and fame do not come to the one who sits idly. Your work is inextricably linked with the banking sector, as well as with the Mongolian Women's Organization ...

- After graduation I went to work at the Bank of Mongolia (Mongolbank). Seven years later, I was promoted to the Head of the Monetary Policy Department, and then I worked as the Director of the Banking Supervision Department. In 2002, I was appointed as a Representative of the Bank of Mongolia in London, and then worked as a Deputy Governor. I have been a member of the Women's Council since my high school. Maybe that's why, I supported young people in the banking sector, especially women. At a socialist time, the Mongolian Women's Federation had a branch in every major organization. I was the Head of the Women Committee under the State Bank. I was also representing the banking sector in the Sukhbaatar district’s Women council.

- What decisions aimed at society were made at that time? What was the feature of the activities of Banking Women Council?

- Women in our banking sector, from the start of carrier, work with numbers and papers. At that time for women there were no such wide opportunities to develop themselves comprehensively, as today. Therefore, by the initiative of the Banking Women Council, women, mothers, and wives were trained to improve household chores effectively, e.g. prepare delicious dishes, embroidery, and the art of setting up a festive table, and also held contests and selected the Best Banker Woman. We also put forward an initiative to the State Bank’s General Committee to make the flexible working time for women, who are pregnant and with young children to deduct one hour from the daily work hours. And this issue was resolved in a positive way. We assisted women who had family issues and grief, gave them financial support, carried out humanitarian work in the banking sector and paid attention to the training for female staff. And in the 1990s, under the influence of the democratic wave, a law was passed that; under the state organizations a non-governmental organization should not function. Therefore, branches of women's councils were eliminated. Thus, government officials began to take an oath, and restricted the right to express the interests of a political party or non-governmental organization.  Recently we founded the NGO "Women in Banking and Finance" to empower women economically.

- Have you encountered any difficulties while working as the first Representative of the Bank of Mongolia in London? Why did you have to go there?

- Yes of course. In 2002, I accepted the responsibility to open a representative office of the Bank of Mongolia in London and was appointed for a period of three years. After the difficult transition to a market economy, our country was in a need of a substantial amount of financial resources. The Alliance for Mutual Economic Assistance has collapsed, all the assistance that was received from this union was suspended. To begin reconstruct the economy, there was not enough internal financial resources. Therefore, in order to attract capital investment from financially developed third countries, many research and studies had to be carried out and a solid foundation was provided for this work. Therefore, we chose London, and it became necessary to open an office there. London is the central point of three time zones that manages and finances globally. It was very important to get there and make it clear that there is a country like Mongolia in the sphere of international business.

- How did your work in London begin?

- The main purpose of my duty as a representative in London was to introduce Mongolia to the “financial leaders” and institutional investors, who were looking for a new market to expand their bussiness... I met with representatives of major international banks, introduced them about Mongolia, the Mongolbank, the economic potential opportunities, the  vision of our economic development,  rich natural resources and agricultural raw materials. Attracting investments in Mongolia was my goal. I realized that for our country, the main condition to attract foreign investors is to organise international investment forums and to establish country's credit rating. Thus, I told the former Governor of the Mongolbank, O. Chuluunbat, that investors and clients of large international banks should be invited and international investment forum should be organized. My proposal was approved and supported by the Government, and laid the foundation to organise international investment conferences, which have been held annually. Through Bloomberg and BBC, two-minute advertisment was prepared and it showed to international investors what kind of future Mongolia has and what wealth our country has. Also at that time, preparatory work was carried out for the issuance of government bonds. There were two ways to raise funds: either our companies must make an IPO or the government must issue government bonds. And they decided that the best way is to issue government bonds. The basis for issuing government bonds in the international market was firmly laid. Thus, an issue of the first bond of the Development Bank of Mongolia was success.

- Are you satisfied with the results of your work in London?

- Yes. Here, I especially want to mention the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). For the first time, I applied, specifically, to this bank with a request to provide a loan to Mongolia on preferential terms. Because this bank was created to support 15 CIS countries after the collapse of the USSR, and also to save the economies of Hungary, Poland and other Eastern European countries from the economic crisis. But when I arrived in London, the economy of these countries was in the process of recovery and almost did not require foreign loans. Therefore, the question was raised whether to continue the activities of the EBRD or to liquidate it. Therefore, I raised the question: “Although Mongolia was not part of the USSR, it is part of the socialist system. Mongolia also survived the crisis, and the state needs additional funds. Although the statute of your bank states to provide a loan only to European countries, I ask you to grant a loan to Mongolia. Because Mongolia is a democratic country, there is a favorable environment for investment. Our country has defined a vision of development. Please help us in soft loans ”. They responded: “Although Mongolia is not a region to which we can provide a loan. But we want to take the opportunity that you reported on and support your proposed initiative”. And a fund called TRUST with a capital of 300.0 million dollars was established. And they began to invest in Mongolia from this fund, the first steps of acquaintance with the business environment of Mongolia were laid. Training of Mongolian bankers in Europe, at large international banks was organised in order to prepare world-class bankers. I believe that this initiative was main key ground  to accept Mongolia a country of operation for EBRD. Soon our initiative, with the support of the lobby group, changed the charter of this bank.

- This is probably the “game” of world level. It is of interest, how exactly did it succeed?

- At that time I was in the PhD study of the UK’s City University. My research theme was: “How can small economies grow and sustain in the conditions of globalization and competition?” And I put forward the question and initiative to the EBRD: “Should the EBRD be limited to activities within Europe in the context of globalization? Please amend the charter of the bank, make the activity more open and provide assistance to developing countries such as Mongolia”. Because this bank is different from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other international banks. The above banks issue a low interest rate loan aimed at the implementation of development policies on the basis of an agreement with the Government of the respective country. And the EBRD provides a loan to support the business, mostly the private sector. In Mongolia, there are many private companies in needs of concessional loans, will expand and develop their business. Therefore, I made the following initiative to help Mongolia to become a creditworthy country, which would also benefit the EBRD, and suggested changing the definition of the “European Region” and covering the territory of the bank’s activities in the charter. Thus, the EBRD, at the initiative of the Mongolian side, made a historic decision. Today, the EBRD provides loans not only to Mongolia, but also to Middle East and African countries. The activity of this bank has expanded and provides loans throughout the different regions of the world. After the opening of its representative office in Mongolia, EBRD provides many loans to the private sector of Mongolia.

- I heard that when you worked in London, you also managed a women's organization...

-Yes. When I worked in London, I learned that few mongolian women work in large  internationally reputable organizations at their professional merits in london. So, I found opportunities to promote Mongolia through these women abroad. Therefore, in 2010, when I was appointed for the second time in London, I founded the Association for the Development of Mongolian Women in Europe (ADMWE). I was already familiar in London with global banks and investors. Therefore, through ADMWE, I have decided to establish the platform of networking and develop business cooperation among women. Ms. Azjargal Ulzii, who worked at the EBRD for almost 20 years,  and Oscar winner Marta Bira and many other women supported my initiative and actively cooperated in creating this association. Now the association has representatives in  ten European countries.

- Please provide some of works done by Association for Development of Mongolian Women in Europe?

- Since we started cooperation with major banks and established our NGO with a women who worked for global banks, we put forward an initiative for EBRD, to introduce to Mongolian business women their operations including how to apply for concessional loans and how to raise funding for their business. We conducted training courses for women entrepreneurs. Together with other influential women, we carried out work in two main directions. In our demographic policy, the question of the birth of healthy children from healthy mothers is important. We conducted seminars and workshops for youth and women who studied abroad on the topic of the prevention of cervical cancer. We organized a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and raised money for the introduction of preventive vaccines, which used in developed countries. His Royal Highness Prince Charles donated his painting, which he painted, for this good cause . We organized the auction and raised £ 10,000, equivalent to MNT 30 million. We handed it to the Minister of Health, Mrs Udval. Since 2010, we have been actively campaining against domestic violence in order to inform the public about the side effects of violence against women and children, that they suffer physical, psychological, material and economic damages. Therefore, we organized several events to spread the report on domestic violence issued by the UN and other human rights organizations, and  meetings of Mongolian and British women with support of British MPs at the House of Commons to exchange experiences. Every year, we organize a conference for Mongolian women in one of the European cities. The first one was held in London, then in Germany, Belgium, and France. Last year, this meeting was organized in Poland under the theme “Women and Health”. Funding we raised from organising those events assisted NGOs activities to fight with violence; cooperation with the center “Princess”, we created the “Club of Strong Boys” in remote areas of Bayanzurkh and Songinokhairkhan,  and the “Girls Club” in the Chingeltei district. We must prepare not only girls but also boys from preventing acts of violence. Therefore, it is important to teach boys to solve problems not with “muscles”, but with the “good mind”. In the above areas we have done a lot of work and achieved considerable success. Last year, the ADMWE initiated a new NGO registered in Mongolia. I became the president of this NGO “Global Mongolian Women Together”, and is now working on the Project “100 Women of the Century”. Also along with the duties of the Board of the Mongolian Women’s Federation, I am engaged in the work of the “ Banking and Finance Women ”.

- When were you elected Vice President for the Asia-Pacific region of the Socialist International Women?

- I was elected as a Vice President of the Socialist International Women for the second time and have been working here for six years. The organization with the 100-year history is the global women's organization with political, social and democratic perspectives of more than 140 countries. I lead this organization, which has the right to consult the UN women's organization. In the past six years, I participated in the UN Conferences of the Commission of Women Status and at the 58th CSW conference presented a speech about the living standards of women in Asian countries. In 2015, the UN discussed the topic what progress women have achieved, what are the results of policies aimed for women wellbeing. Our conclusions, that we have not yet eliminated poverty, violence and inequality, I proposed that we must fight and make goals till 2030 for 15 years. And we handed over this appeal to the UN. The UN accepted our proposal and three points were included into the Sustainable Development seventeen global goals of the UN: the elimination of poverty, violence and inequality.

-In conclusion, what do you want to say to all women of Mongolia and readers?

- I am delighted that the Mongolian Women’s Federation once again began to publish the magazine “Mongolian Women”, and the magazine is published in English, Russian and in Mongolian traditional script. I want to challenge all dear readers: “In the previous society, we were taught that we should live within our opportunity, that everyone should love and care for the socialist property from childhood”. And that was the right challenge. Therefore, let’s teach our children to love and preserve wealth, regardless of who built and created it. And I believe that every person should follow this principle. Every woman in Mongolia should go in the forefront in the implementation and observance of this principle in order to educate and raise the right future citizens. Labor brings up a person. Therefore, let us, women, remember the phrase “Learn, learn and learn” and invest in your education. LET'S SUPPORT HARDWORKING WOMEN!”

Thank you for an interview.

Journalist, Editor Shurentsetseg Yu.



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