International Women’s Day is internationally recognised on the March 8th every year, and represents a focal point for women’s rights and is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. At times, it appears as though global environmental and social crises are too overwhelmingly large to tackle. But there are some amazing women right here in Asia who are striving every day to make a positive impact, one issue at a time. Today, we recognise 10 women who are pushing for change by bringing corporates and other stakeholders to task to initiate environmental and social forward policies.
Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer at City Developments Limited
For pioneering urban sustainability
Esther An is the chief sustainability officer at Singapore developer City Developments Limited (CDL). She is one of the leading figures behind the city-state’s SDG City Challenge, a campaign that brought together the Building & Construction Authority, Health Promotion Board and Sport Singapore to promote green healthy lifestyles – all while raising awareness about the Global Goals. Under CDL, An has also pioneered a program called Incubator4SDGs, which helps to host local startups that are focused on at least one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Emily Au-Young, Co-Founder & CEO at Reemi
For tackling period poverty with groundbreaking innovation and empathy
After coming across period poverty during her work with female refugees in her time as the Communications and Fundraising Manager at Hong Kong’s Crossroads Foundation, Emily Au-Young began her research journey to dive deeper into the issue in Bangladesh. She then went onto creating New Zealand-based charity Reemi with Ashleigh Howan, which has developed the world’s first self-disinfecting and reusable underwear product. In addition to tackling wasteful nature of single-use feminine care, the organisation is making a social impact with 100% of the profits going towards benefiting women in Bangladesh through period care education, breaking social taboos, and offering a culturally sensitive mesh bag washing solution.
Louise Emmanuelle Mabulo, Founder at The Cacao Project
For advancing Filipino sustainable agriculture
Chef, farmer and environmental entrepreneur Louise Emmanuelle Mabulo is the founder of The Cacao Project, which helps Filipino farmers in the county’s Bicol region build climate resilient, sustainable livelihoods. Recipient of a range of awards from National Geographic Young Explorer to Forbes Asia’s ‘30 Under 30’ list to Young Champion of the Earth under United Nations Environment Programme, Mabulo is also passionate about showcasing her country’s traditional food heritage on the global map. From pop up to dinners starring local ingredients to hosting the cooking show ‘Simply Sarap’, she works tireless toward empowering farmers and advancing climate action & environmental stewardship through her work.
Vanessa Cheung, Group Managing Director of Nan Fung Development Ltd & Founder at The Mills
For advancing sustainable fashion and food innovation across Asia and beyond
As the founder of The Mills, a global destination for experimental retail, as well as textile-related art and culture, Vanessa Cheung has been empowering impactful local Hong Kong founders and entrepreneurs for years. She and her team also lead The Mills Fabrica, a techstyle and agrifood innovation platform and incubator that supports startups, initiates partnerships and develops communities all with the goal of creating a more sustainable and innovative future of fashion and food. In addition, Cheung and her team have a venture arm that backs entrepreneur-led solutions to tackle everything from deforestation to water shortages.
Sahar Mansoor, Founder & CEO at Bare Necessities
For helping to put zero waste on the Indian map
Sahar Mansoor is the founder and CEO of Bare Necessities – Zero Waste India, a zero-waste personal care and home care brand and an education-oriented hub raising awareness on waste-free living in India. Her entire brand’s collection is made by “bare” natural and organic ingredients that are sourced locally and ethically and is sold in 100% recyclable packaging. But much more than offering clean beauty and personal care, Mansoor’s company provides education on living zero-waste through talks and workshops, and sustainability consulting services for corporates.
Archana Kotecha, Founder & CEO at The Remedy Project
For tirelessly fighting for human rights and migrant worker rights across supply chains
For most of her career, human rights lawyer Archana Kotecha has worked tirelessly to educate corporations, financial institutions and governments about the legal and anti-laundering frameworks of human trafficking. Previously the Asia Region Director and Head of Legal at Liberty Shared, a Hong Kong-based nonprofit working on anti-trafficking projects across Asia, Kotecha is the founder & CEO at The Remedy Project, a Hong Kong based social enterprise that revolutionises access to justice for migrant workers globally within global supply chains. Kotecha and her team help businesses prevent and rectify human rights issues in their supply chains with a goal to raise standards, meet business needs, and support lasting change for better work environments.
Julia Majail, Director of Standard Development at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
For working to forge a sustainable palm oil industry
Since joining the RSPO Secretariat Office in 2011 in Malaysia, Julia Majail has led development and implementation of crucial sustainability standards and guidelines to push for change from corporations on the issue of deforestation associated with palm oil production. From providing strategic and policy advice to facilitating decision making between auditors, organisations and businesses, Majail’s work is helping to shape a future where exploitation of our planet’s resources are shunned and sustainable palm oil is the norm.
Regina Larko, Founder, Host & Producer at #impact
For creating a platform to showcase and celebrate impact
There are few people in Hong Kong more passionate about the power of audio to change minds than Regina Larko, the founder, host and producer of #impact podcast. Her mission-led podcast is all about giving a voice to people, especially women, who are making the world a safer, kinder and greener place. Her episodes have inspired many to take immediate action on the most pressing issues in the world, from the climate crisis to fashion waste. Recently, she even created an online course to help others launch impact-driven podcasts.
Louise Hardman, Founder & CEO at Plastic Collective
For empowering remote communities to stand up against plastic waste
Louise Hardman is the founder and CEO of Plastic Collective, a focused on tackling the issue of waste in remote communities in Asia-Pacific through her plastic recycling machine dubbed the Shruder. It shreds and extrudes plastic for recycling, and is mobile, which enables the solution to be taken to even the most remote places and eliminates the cost and need to transporting plastic waste from rural regions and islands to large-scale processing sites. Giving small businesses an economic opportunity with the organisation’s “trash-to-treasure” technology, Harman’s work has also empowered communities in the process.
Benita Chick, Founder & CEO at Encompass HK
For working to highlight and raise awareness about DEI and the UN SDGs
Passionate about community outreach and making a social impact, Benita Chick founded social enterprise Encompass HK, an organisation dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and is striving to galvanise efforts to achieve the SDGs. Not only has she collaborated with youth groups and nonprofits, through her organisation, Chick has led consultation and training services about the Global Goals, from sustainability to equality targets.
Lead image compiled by Green Queen Media, individual images as credited above.