The Strong Women Series has been an eye-opener for me as the blogger. I sincerely hope that those who have taken the time to read the Series thus far have learned something; not only about the various women highlighted, but also about each continent, and are hopefully spurred to learn more.
The Series is about the Strong Women of the Continents; in essence, of the World. I have blogged about my favorite Strong Women of the Bible, and curated the Strong Women of the five hemispheres of Africa and the Americas (the North- (USA & Canada) and the South which comprises twelve (12) countries).
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Women, and people, across the globe are generally the same everywhere; each fighting for one cause or the other. The Strong Women worldwide have, and continue to fight to liberate themselves against one form of injustice/violence or the other; which includes but are not limited to physical, sexual assault, financial, emotional, and mental. Women have fought to have a voice on matters concerning them and they continue to speak up against any form of discrimination.
“Representation matters, not just in Hollywood, but in our curricula and cultural consciousness.”Teen Forbes
This post is about the Strong Women of Asia and it is an equally impressive list. For a continent that still struggles to liberate women, the list is inspiring. Please read on …
The Teen Vogue states that there were 11 Asian, Pacific Islander, or South Asian-American women in the 115th Congress. The 116th Congress had 10 Asian women, while the count for the 117th Congress, which convened on January 3rd is still unknown, but according to The LA Focus it includes 3 Korean women.
The continent of Asia comprises of 48 countries; with China (1,439,323,776) and India (1,380,004,385) being the most populous. There’s Eastern Asia, Southern, South-Eastern, Western, and Central Asia. Click here to see the countries (and populations) of Asia.
The above screenshot list was a big challenge to my geography! I’m probably not alone!! I was surprised to learn of a few countries myself 😊 As a matter of fact, writing the blog was equally challenging – my first draft consisted of only women from China and India! Since Asia consists of 48 countries, I had to do better and more research. The intent was to come up with at least two per country. Unfortunately that wasn’t totally possible. So pardon me that a few countries had more highlights.
Segue: Quiz: Test your knowledge
- How many of the Asian countries can you put in the right bucket?
- How many of the countries have you heard of?
p.s. if the screenshot is ineligible, click here for a clearer list which is equally interactive and can be sorted various ways. Put your answers in the comments. Thanks.
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Asian Women, like their African counterparts, were (intentional use of the verb) one of the extremely submissive groups. To find a Strong Woman in the two continents, to highlight, is therefore commendable.
“Asian-Americans, especially Asian-American women, are often pigeonholed as meek or unassertive, rather than depicted as leaders.”Teen Vogue
There were 11 Asian women in the 115th Congress (see pg. 11 of the link).
Xiang Jingyu. the first director of the Chinese Communist Women’s Bureau and one of the foremost revolutionaries of her time, advocating for women’s education rights and organizing mass labor strikes.
Anna May Wong is considered the first Chinese American Hollywood star … starred in a TV series — The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong — as the first Asian-American to top such a show.
Soong Mei-ling. was pivotal to gathering support for China’s war against Japan and in 1943 she became the first Chinese national and only the second woman to address both houses of the U.S. Congress.
Chien-Shiung Wu, Wu was born in China in a town north of Shanghai in 1912, to parents who not only believed in educating girls but also founded a school that took care to include them. Wu emigrated to the U.S. in 1936, where she ultimately taught physics at Princeton University, and where she made two key contributions to building the bombs that ended the war. A PhD UC Berkeley graduate, was credited with solving a problem that had bedeviled Enrico Fermi, and as Time notes, “she helped develop the method for separating nonfissionable uranium 238 from fissionable U-235—the bomb’s key fuel.”
Choe Son Hui is a vice minister of foreign affairs in North Korea and is the most senior female diplomat in the country.
Kim Song Hye is another leading female diplomat in the DPRK, who has primarily worked in dealing with relations with the South. Little is known about her personal background and but she’s one not related to the ruling Kim family.
Yuriko Koike, 65, Tokyo’s first female governor and Japan’s political star of the moment.
Yayoi Kusama, 90, is a contemporary artist, who’s still active in painting, film, performance, poetry, fashion and other arts. Her work has been recognised as one of the most important living artists in Japan.
Sadako Ogata. the only Japanese and first woman to lead the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Maki Akaida became the CEO of Uniqlo Japan and will soon be succeeding the richest man in Japan, Tadashi Yanai, as the CEO of Fast Retailing at a later stage.
p.s. most of the Strong Women of North Korea/DORK found were related to the ruling party and therefore unclear whether their positions were meritorious or nepotistical.
Indira Gandhi. India’s to-date only female prime minister
Roshni Nadar is the chairwoman of HCL technologies in India. Her popularity stems from the fact that she is the first woman in India to head an IT firm. She was also listed as the 57th powerful woman in the world, as of 2019.
Amrit Kaur. India’s first Health Minister in 1947.
Divya Gokulnath is the Co-Founder of Byju’s Learning in India, that is now helping students learn different subjects with required tests and course materials.
Ameera Shah is the Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare, the leading pathology lab in India that has developed a great fanbase in India, South Asia and even Africa.
Malala Yousafzai. On January 3, 2009, 11-year-old Malala’s first blog was published. She later became the face of women’s empowerment not only in Pakistan but around the world.
Queen Soraya Tarzi. was the face of change in Afghanistan — she was King Amanullah Khan’s only wife, breaking a tradition of polygamy; she went unveiled in public and encouraged the education of girls
The 11 countries of Southeast Asia include over 550 million people. The region is characterized by the relatively favorable position of women in comparison with neighboring East or South Asia. According to a Forbes’ list, Asian women, particularly those from Southeast Asia, are still a minority force in the powerful women community.
Corazon Aquino. the 11th president (and first female president) of the Philippines.
Maria Ressa. A Filipino journalist whose publication, Rappler, had been started as a Facebook page in 2011. The publication evolved into one of the Philippines’ most dynamic news outlets to expose dozens of fake and spam-heavy accounts Duterte supporters used to manipulate the online discourse that many now mistake for reality.
Aung San Suu Kyi, is ranked the highest among her Southeast Asian counterparts. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and, in 2015, was at the helm of the first civilian government that took power (albeit in a de facto capacity). She has been elected to the Burmese parliament and has become the leader of the biggest opposition party in Myanmar this year. Her significant contribution to the democratization and development of Myanmar and beyond makes Suu Kyi a well deserving figure in South-Eastern Asia.
Caroline Russell is single-handedly spearheading the BOH Plantations, in Malaysia, which was founded by her grandfather. The plantation has several units that account for almost 70% of Malaysia.
Preeyanart Soontornwata. became the CEO of B.Grimm Power, in 2017, and has helped the conglomerate in Thailand generate billions in revenue. The company is spread across 47 powerplants covering Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Yingluck Shinwatra, Thai Prime Minister. once the director of the biggest telecom company in Thailand before she entered politics in 2011. She has demonstrated her courage and the qualities as a leader particularly during and following the historical 2011 Thailand floods as she initiated various flood prevention and control measures in response to Thailand’s worst flood in 50 years.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Once Indonesian Minister of Finance from 2005 to 2010, Indrawati has been the managing director of the World Bank since 2010, overseeing operations and loans in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
Nurhayati Subakat, Co-founder and CEO of Paragon Technology & Innovation with 8,300 employees, and held 30% of the beauty products market in Indonesia. A trained chemical engineer, Subakat’s began her journey when she founded a company known as Pusaka Tradisi Ibu with her husband in 1985. The company makes hair-care products, before stepping into affordable make up line commonly known as Putri in 1993. As a devout Muslim, she understood the rising demand of halal make up and skincare products. In 1995, Wardah, rose in Arabic, was born.
Lily Kong is the president of the Singapore Management University and the first woman in Singapore to have a university; appreciated for her contribution to geography.
p.s. though, in business, almost 50% of the small and medium enterprises in Brunei are owned and/or run by women, there is not a single woman appointed in the Council of Cabinet Ministers.
Chea Serey, Director General of Cambodia National Bank
Lubna Olayan, CEO, Olayan Financing Company; one of the Kingdom’s most successful conglomerates with operations across the Middle East. In 2004, she became the first woman to join the board of a Saudi publicly listed company after being elected to the board of Alawwal Bank, and she currently serves as the board’s Vice Chairman.
Nabilah Al-Tunisi, chief engineer, Saudi Aramco. She began her career with Saudi Aramco in 1982. Besides working on the Aramco-Dow joint venture, she has developed software to monitor oil assets, implemented automation systems to speed up the transport of oil and gas, led engineers on alternative energy solutions, and managed oil and gas projects worth $40 billion.
Sumaya Al-Nasser, founder, Sumaya 369. She is Saudi Arabia’s first internationally certified female life and career coach. Al-Nasser holds a PhD in theology.
Reem Al Hashimi is UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation.
p.s. I have received scam emails bogusly using Reem Al Hashimi’s name. Now I know who she is and why her name is being used! Would never have, had not for this Series!!!
Lubna Al Qasimi is the UAE’s Minister for Tolerance and one of the region’s most prominent female leaders. She held the title of the most powerful woman in the Middle East in 2015 and in 2017, the most powerful Arab woman in government. She is the first woman to be appointed a ministerial position in the UAE and the first Emirati to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award.
Mariam Al-Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot in UAE. Mariam, who has led UAE mission airstrikes against ISIS over Syria, is a true inspiration for women across the globe.
Mary Nazzal-Batayneh; the chairman of Landmark Amman Hotel – one of the most luxurious hotels in Amman.
Roza Otunbaeva, President of Kyrgyzstan. The Moscow-educated former diplomat is Central Asia’s first and only female president.
Raushan Sarsembayeva, is one of Kazakhstan‘s wealthiest and most powerful women. She founded the Kazakh Businesswomen’s Association
Dr. Ademi Zhidebayeva, was awarded the Khalyk Agysy (People’s Gratitude) award for her work during the pandemic – she delivered 20 babies a day in Kazakhstan.
Svetlana Ortikova, Chairwoman of Uzbek Senate’s Committee for Legislative and Judiciary Issues. A lawyer by profession, Scetlana formerly served as a senior prosecutor and headed the information and communication division of the Uzbekistan Prosecutor-General’s Office.
Mutabar Tojiboeva, Uzbek’s human rights activist. She has been honored with the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva and the International Women of Courage Award in Washington.
Akja Nurberdyeva: speaker of Turkmenistan‘s parliament
Patsy Takemoto Mink. the first woman of color and first Asian-American elected to the U.S. House to Representatives. She served as Hawaii’s representative for 12 terms. The crowning glory of her government service was her co-authorship of the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act.
Tu Youyou was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, in 2013, for her discovery for the treatment of malaria.
Aung San Suu Kyi. awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and, in 2015, was at the helm of the first civilian government that took power (albeit in a de facto capacity).
p.s. The few women who have attained the highest political offices in some Asian countries have done so because they are the daughters or wives of the country’s President or a famous man. It is therefore difficult to gauge their passions as truly advocates of women’s issues.
Asian Strong Women in Business
- Zhao Yan is the founder of Bloomage, a growth-driven property funding firm.
- Samantha Du leads the pharmaceutical agency Zai Lab, that has $6 billion market capitalization in the industry. The company was founded in 2014 and has very easily become the largest in China.
- Divya Gokulnath is the Co-Founder of Byju’s Learning in India, that is now helping students learn different subjects with required tests and course materials.
- Ameera Shah is the Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare, the leading pathology lab in India that has developed a great fanbase in India, South Asia and even Africa.
- Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo, President and CEO of VietJet Air.
- Akiko Naka. Found and CEO of Wantedly.
- Anna Fang, Partner and CEO of ZhenFund.
- Estina Ang, Founder, Executive Chairman and CEO of Ghim Li Group
- Lorraine Belo-Cincochan, CEO of Wilcon Depot Inc.
Teresa Wibowo, CEO of ruparupa.com
- Han Seong-sook, CEO of Naver.
- Joanne Kua, Executive Director, Managing Director, and CEO of KSK Group & KSK Land.
- Kim So-hee, CEO of Nanda.
- Cindy Mi, Founder and CEO of VIPKID, an online platform that pairs students with tutors located in North America. Started in 2013, VIPKID is now the world’s largest K-12 English-language online educator, with 30,000 native-English speakers providing lessons to 200,000 students scattered in 35 countries.
- Zhang Xin, CEO of SOHO China, became an owner-companies responsible for dozens of real estate developments located in Beijing and Shanghai. She’s listed by Forbes as the 62nd Most Powerful Woman in the World.
- Nurhayati Subakat, Co-founder and CEO of Paragon Technology & Innovation with 8,300 employees, and held 30% of the beauty products market in Indonesia. A trained chemical engineer, Subakat’s began her journey when she founded a company known as Pusaka Tradisi Ibu with her husband in 1985. The company makes hair-care products, before stepping into affordable make up line commonly known as Putri in 1993. As a devout Muslim, she understood the rising demand of halal make up and skincare products. In 1995, Wardah, rose in Arabic, was born.
- Jane Jie Sun, CEO of Ctrip.com International, the largest travel agency in China since 2016.
- Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China; previously served as the CEO of KFC China, and managing director of A.S. Watson Group UK. was ranked as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Business Leader in China 2018 and Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business in China 2017 by Fortune Chinese Edition. As of 2019, she is the only 33 female CEOs on the Fortune 500.
- Supamas Trivisvavet, President and CEO of CH. Karnchang, Thailand’s second-largest construction company.
- Mercy Wu, Chairman and CEO of Eslite Spectrum, the island’s largest retail bookstore and lifestyle chain, with 44 outlets across Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. These outlets combined bookstores, art galleries, restaurants, and department stores. Additionally, it also has a boutique hotel in Taipei and residential property in Suzhou, China.
- Wei Sun Christianson, CEO of Morgan Stanley China.
- Somruedee Chaimongkol, CEO of Banpu whose asset is coal, has gained the nickname, “Asia’s First Lady of Coal”.
- Aireen Omar, Deputy Group CEO of AirAsia.
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As we’ve always stated, our list is merely a sample and by no means exhaustive of the beautiful and commendable Strong Women. I believe that there is a Strong Woman in every home. More Strong Women of any of the Asian countries can be found by clicking on the various reference links.
If you read this far, I sincerely appreciate your time. This is a long read; my longest so far. Thank you.
Thanks for reading and following the Series. 😍✌🏾