Hay Mar Soe: My journey to become a pharmacist

Having worked for years labouring on a farm, Hay Mar Soe is now following her dream to support people’s health by training to become a pharmacist.


Hay Mar Soe, 19, demonstrating her CPR skills. Photo credit: Plan International.

“I have always dreamed of studying medicine and I am very passionate about providing health care to people from the village because many lost their lives due to limited health care services in cases of medical emergency,” says Hay Mar Soe, 19.

However, she was disappointed she couldn’t follow her dream due to the high fees to study medicine at university, even though she passed all 6 entry exams.

Living in a rural community, Hay Mar Soe farmed bean plants with her father to make a living since she was a child.

New skills create opportunities

Opportunity knocked at her door when she had the chance to join a vocational training programme. Hay Mar Soe took an 8-day course to check which training programme would be most suitable for her based on her education, skills and interests. She applied for the pharmacy and assistant nursing course and was successfully enrolled.

“When my application was successful, I felt confident it was time for me to start my career journey as a pharmacist, turning away from undesirable farm work”, she recounted.

Currently, she is working as an intern health care assistant at a hospital providing support for patients and assisting medical procedures under the supervision of nurses.

“When I had this learning opportunity, I realised how it has given me with the sense of equality.”

Hay Mar Soe

“After the course is completed, I plan to work for a pharmaceutical company to get experience before starting my own pharmaceutical shop in my village,” she says.

Reflecting on her journey, Hay Mar Soe realises the importance of empowering women and promoting gender equality to enhance governance, innovation and economic progress.

“I thought I had to give up my hope of studying health care with my level of my education and finance. With vocational opportunities, I do not need to give up my hope and keep my dream alive,” she says.

“Throughout my whole life, I always felt weak with inequality at the farm work where male workers are more favourable. When I had this learning opportunity, I realised how it has given me with the sense of equality.”

Vocational training for young people in Myanmar

Hay Mar Soe is one of 1,931 young people who have enrolled in vocational training courses through Plan International Myanmar’s Thanaka: Girls’ Power in Myanmar project since October 2023.

The project is implemented alongside partner organisation Global Affairs Canada and supports adolescent girls and young women to access diverse, safe and inclusive job opportunities.

The project provides 11 categories of vocational training including nursing and pharmacy, food and bakery, and computers and sewing.

Studies show that girls globally are prevented from pursuing their dream careers due to financial and academic barriers created by gender inequality. Our Thanaka project promotes equality and supports girls to learn skills needed to follow their ambitions. Gender quality and inclusion are central to all our work in Myanmar.  

Skills and work, Livelihoods, Vocational training