Women in Asia changing the future

Last year, the inaugural Women of the Future Awards recognised nine women driving positive impactful change in Asia. In its second edition, more winners have been honoured, highlighting the region’s abundance of inspirational female talent. 

When the Women of the Future (WOF) Awards—a UK-born movement that honours influential women leaders under the age of 35—expanded to Southeast Asia last year, it was about recognising and encouraging inspirational women in the region.

The “depth of female talent” in Southeast Asia was exhibited in this year’s edition by the abundance of winners, said Pinky Lilani CBE DL, founder of the WOF Programme.

Eleven women from the arts, business, community, media, science and professional fields received top prizes in their respective categories in the WOF Southeast Asia Awards 2019 at the Hilton Singapore on Thursday.

Rozella Mahjhrin. Image: WOF

Malaysian singer and songwriter Rozella Mahjhrin was unveiled the winner for the Arts and Culture category for her advocacy of promoting positive body image. Mahjhrin was born with a prominent birthmark on her face, and was bullied for it in her youth. She has used music as a coping mechanism to overcome her insecurities. After performing in music competitions and winning some of them, she gained self-confidence and decided to create a platform called True Complexion, which features inspirational individuals with unusual physical and mental charactersitics.

Ana Margarita “Ginggay” Hontiveros (centre) during the WOF Southeast Asia Awards 2019. Image: WOF

Ana Margarita “Ginggay” Hontiveros was announced as winner of the new Mentor category for her work as an adviser at GoNegosyo, a Philippine non-profit organisation that promotes entrepreneurship, where she works with communities to promote peace and development in Muslim areas of extreme poverty and conflict like Sulu and Marawi. Hontiveros also leads a mentorship programme with the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture that extends support to farmers. 

In the Professions category, for women who are making a significant contribution in the fields of law, medicine, accounting, engineering and education, there were two winners.

Dr Chan Hwei Wuen, an award-winning opthalmologist from National University Hospital in Singapore, was named Most Outstanding Tutor. She shared the top prize with Najaa Halbi, a petroleum engineer with 10 years of worth of leadership experience in a male-dominated field at Shell Brunei.

These young women are trailblazers who are committed to creating a kinder, more collaborative future for their communities, and are a true inspiration to us all.

Pinky Lilani CBE DL, founder, Women of the Future Programme

Najaa Halbi (second from left) and Chan Hwei Wuen (second from right) during the WOF Southeast Asia Awards 2019. Image: WOF

“These young women are trailblazers who are committed to creating a kinder, more collaborative future for their communities, and are a true inspiration to us all,” said Lilani.

The selected winners came from a shortlist of 54 candidates from 10 countries across the region.

The complete list of winners in their respective award categories are:

  • Arts & Culture: Rozella Mahjhrin, Singer/Songwriter, Rozella/ True Complexion (Malaysia)
  • Business: Dr Theingi Win, Founder and CEO, Global Assistant Co (Myanmar)
  • Community Spirit & Public Service: Aye Thiri Kyaw, writer, researcher, humanitarian (Myanmar)
  • Entrepreneur: Supna Rania Karwanamurthi, Co-founder/ managing director, Flux O.S. Sdn. Bad (Brunei)
  • Media & Communications: Thinzar Shunlei Yi, Youth advocate & TV host, Under 30 Dialogue TV show (Myanmar)
  • Mentor: Ana Margarita “Ginggay” Hontiveros, Adviser for Agripreneurship and Programs Head for Bangsamoro Region, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Professions: Dr Hwei Wuen Chan, Doctor, National University Hospital, Singapore (Singapore) 
  • Professions: Najaa Halbi, Planning Manager for East Asset Brunei Shell Petroleum, Brunei Shell Petroleum Company (Brunei)
  • Property, Infrastructure & Construction: Josephine Lee, Director, Occupier Services, Knight Frank Asia Pacific (Singapore)
  • Science, Technology & Digital: Jasy Liew Suet Yan, Senior Lecturer, University Sains Malaysia (Malaysia)
  • Social Entrepreneur: Kunthear Mov, Co-founder and Managing Director, Dorsu (Cambodia)

The judging was chaired by Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Australia, with a panel from various fields.

The award winners and shortlisted candidates of each category will gain access to the WOF network—a global network of women who support and inspire each other to further professional and personal success.

Eco-Business managing editor Jessica Cheam was last year’s winner in the media and communications category, allowing her to engage with the WOF network to advance gender equality in Asean.

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