We recently hosted Volume 4 of our #Plantbased Dinner Series at Uma Nota, spotlighting Goal #5 of Gender Equality & Female Empowerment and featuring local Hong Kong NGO the HER Fund. Just in case you missed the event, or would like to relive the highlights, here is our recap of some of the important things we learned during an evening focused on one of the most overlooked global issues of today. If you’re thinking of attending a future event, this piece should certainly encourage you to join the next one.
Despite trying times for our beloved city, every single one of our dinners so far, each of which highlights one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has been consistently oversubscribed with sold out tickets and waiting lists. We are encouraged by this passion for impact, reflected in the spirit of our dinner series, which is to bring the community together for meaningful conversations and inspire positive actions for the global good during a time where crises, such as our climate emergency, continue to escalate. At the core of each dinner is also delicious, wholesome vegan food, which symbolises the way our individual actions can springboard promising changes– other than cutting down on air travel, adopting a plant-based diet is the most impactful personal choice to reduce our carbon footprint.
In our fourth of the series, we focused on the goal of achieving gender equality and female empowerment – one of the most neglected of all the goals, with many solutions to not only problems that women face, but also for a host of other goals in the middle of our current climate crisis. In the latest ESCAP mid-year report on SDG progress in Asia-Pacific, the region is not set to achieve any of the 17 globally agreed goals by 2030, at our current rate.
In fact, we are seeing a regression on gender equality in North and Central Asia, and countries including India, Malaysia and Indonesia regularly top the list of the worst places for women to live and work. When it comes to the impacts of climate change, women are also the most vulnerable due to multiple reasons from poverty to political representation and cultural norms. Because women face these direct challenges, they represent an untapped resource with the most knowledge of practical solutions to advance global issues such as climate change, and also have the potential to create a cascading effect on other goals such as education, health, hunger and decent work.
During our dinner, which featured Hong Kong NGO the HER Fund, a spotlight was cast on this very issue right here in our city. We heard from the organisation’s Executive Director Judy Kan, who shared with us how the HER Fund targets the most disenfranchised among us. Since 2004, through grants, competency training and resource links, the organisation promotes women’s empowerment and gender equality, especially for those who sit at the margins – the women who are often “invisible”, such as teen mothers, migrants, refugees, transgender women, lesbians, part-time workers and disabled people. To date, the HER Fund has directly benefited 40,000 women who are stigmatised or marginalised by society, 40 grassroots groups and over HK$6 million in small grants to NGOs with little access in funding.
One of the most inspiring examples of change is the way the HER Fund has, through grant money and skills training, helped grassroot-level young mothers, including Kayee and Serene, to develop a Teen’s Key Young Mothers Club. As teenage mothers themselves, the group represents a key source of mutual support and a stigma-free social space for their unique challenges. “It’s like my home and family. I share my feelings, parenting problems and health issues that I can’t share with my family members,” Serene told the organisation. This is indicative of how microgrants, seemingly small amounts of money, can hold the power to fund entire projects that have numerous positive cascading effects on the wider community.
Inspired by Judy’s talk, we delved into an evening of purposeful conversations about what we could each do, as well as how we could all come together to drive positive change in gender equality in Hong Kong and beyond.
As we talked, laughed and listened, we also shared a delicious Brazilian Japanese fusion menu by Uma Nota, made entirely from plants. After being welcome with a a crisp lime sake-laced cocktail, we began the tasting with a lime-accented Avocado-wasabi Dip served with Banana Chips, followed by popular Brazilian dough balls Coxinhas– normally made with shredded chicken but in this instance, the filling was a flavour-packed mushroom and eggplant mix. We continued with a colourful bowl of refreshing Wakame Salad, and then dug into the spicy Mojica de Tofu stew, the Roasted Cauliflower Skewers served with a herby vegan mayonnaise and the savoury finale: a Banana Nhoque (think Brazilian gnocchi) in a rich ragu topped with crispy kale. Finally, we indulged in the Manjar de Coco, a coconut pudding with mango-ginger sorbet- delicious and palette cleansing.
Guests were thrilled at the menu, with vegan Brazilian food hard to come by, and Uma Nota received multiple requests to add the creations to their permanent menu. We’re delighted to share that thanks to our collaboration with the Meraki Hospitality Group, they will offer more plant-based menu items. As Meraki’s Marketing Manager Robyn Fok shared: “Our chef teams have been inspired by the events to be more experimental with plant based dishes, and will offer a selection of specials as vegan dishes on the menu exclusive to Mondays both an UMA NOTA and BEDU.”
We left the evening with a lot to think about how we – governments, businesses, civil society and the general public – can come together to build a better future for women, which can benefit everyone in the community, and the planet.
TAKE ACTION ON SDG GLOBAL GOAL #5 BY SUPPORTING HER FUND:
- Volunteer at HER FUND: Use your professional skills and experience to give them a hand with everything from marketing to accounting.
- Donate To HER FUNDS: For as low as HK$ 100, you can help support their micro loans programme and offer Hong Kong’s most disenfranchised ‘invisible’ women a chance at self development.
- Get Involved As a Corporate: HER FUND works with all kinds of stakeholders in a variety of partnership structures- contact them to get your organisation involved.
- Like HER FUND On Facebook: help their posts get exposure by following them.
- Attend Their Fundraising: Make a day out of it while supporting Hong Kong women
If you joined us for our fourth edition, we hope you had as inspiring and tasty a time as we did, and we hope to see you again at our future dinners. To make sure you never miss out again on our UN SDG #PlantBased Dinner Series, make sure to follow Green Queen and sign up to our newsletter too!
Don’t forget to RSVP for Green Queen UN SDG Vegan Dinner Series: Roots Eatery Vol.5
All images courtesy of Green Queen.