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Inspiring women in Hong Kong 2020
Time Out Hong Kong

7 inspiring women in Hong Kong you need to know about

Who run the world? Girls!

By Sarah Moran
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While the role and rights of women have changed immensely over the past couple of decades, one thing that has stayed constant is the countless number of inspiring women who regularly overcome barriers to accomplish their goals and give back to their community. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, we want to introduce you to seven inspiring women in Hong Kong we think you should know about.

RECOMMENDED: Looking for ways to celebrate Women's Day? Check out these Women's Day events as well as food and drink promotions.

7 inspiring Hong Kong women you need to know about

Ines Gafsi and Anna Wong

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We love women who support women, and co-founders of Hong Kong-based organisation Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide Ines Gafsi and Anna Wong do precisely that. Wong and Gafsi first met at a TedxHongKong talk about creativity and learning development. Originally from Hong Kong, Wong had been working in public relations before launching her own ‘social hiring’ startup. While Gafsi, who's from France, was working as a marketing consultant. The two women bonded over their shared vision to create a support network for female entrepreneurs, which resulted in the birth of Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide. This online-to-offline business platform connects, inspires and empowers women for entrepreneurial success. It offers master class programmes taught by industry experts and business leaders, as well as regularly host showrooms where members can promote and sell their products and services.

Gigi Chao

Hong Kong socialite and gay rights activist Gigi Chao was thrust into the global public spotlight when her billionaire father publicly announced an astronomical dowry of 65 million to the man who would marry his daughter back in 2012. The dilemma was she was already in a committed long term relationship with a woman, and her dad knew. Yet instead of letting the incident turn their relationship sour, Gigi managed to find the strength to forgive him. Since the incident, she has become a champion of gay rights in our city. In 2019, she launched Hong Kong Marriage Equality (HKME) – a community-focused, non-partisan social campaign with the goal of achieving marriage equality for same-sex couples in Hong Kong.

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Lesley Chiang

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On the surface, actress, singer-songwriter, and producer Lesley Chiang seem like a normally happy, bubbly, and optimistic young woman. But the young influencer recently revealed to the public that not only has she been struggling with depression since 2014, she has also contemplated suicide three times. Her song Tonight was originally her goodbye letter, and now it’s become an anthem of hope for Hongkongers struggling with dark thoughts. Her courage to share her story and road to recovery helps break the stigma that surrounds mental health in Hong Kong and is further testimony to the fact that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed about. Check out her full speech sharing her story and tips on overcoming her depression here.

Andie Wu

Image: Calvin Sit

Imagine the difficulty of telling your parents that you’re gay. Imagine coming out again, a second time, that you identify as transgender. You are then forced to come out in your workplace against your will. All three are stressful, nightmarish scenarios. Yet for Hong Kong transgender doctor Andie Wu, this was her reality. Assigned male at birth, Wu has identified as female since her early 20s. Since she began practising medicine over the past few years, she has encountered countless cases of institutional discrimination because of her status as a transgender doctor in Hong Kong. Being a woman isn’t easy in this world, and it’s even more challenging to be a transgender woman in Hong Kong where the law does not protect your rights. The barriers Wu has and continues to overcome, inspires us to be brave in standing up for what we believe in, to lead by example and open doors for others to walk through. Read more about Wu’s story here.

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Cathy Lee

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Cathy Lee - former model and actress, and married to Henderson Land vice-chairman Martin Lee Ka-Shing - is well known in Hong Kong for her incredible amount of charity work. One of her biggest passion is helping underprivileged children. She works closely with charities such as the Chi Heng Foundation, which helps AIDS-impacted children in China, and supports the humanitarian work of Save The Children Hong Kong around the world. She believes everyone can become more involved in charity and continuously help those in need as long as they find a cause they truly believe in.

Harmony Illunga

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Model, entrepreneur, human rights activist and university student Harmony Ilunga came to Hong Kong from Congo as a refugee when she was 12 years old. As an African woman, refugee and model in Hong Kong, she's faced countless bullying due to discriminations against her skin and negative media stereotypes of refugee and asylum seekers in Hong Kong. In castings, people would tell her straight to her face that they want someone with a lighter skin colour. When she found out many of her model friends of colour have faced the same issues, she decided to launch 'Harmony HK' – a refugee-curated bi-annual fashion highlighting emerging artists. In a society where lack of representation and racial discrimination is prevalent, Harmony's fashion show serves as a platform for Hong Kong ethnic minorities to showcase their talent and further develop their creative careers.

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