*Translations are unofficial and provided by Google translate
UN Women 2021 Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards:
Meet the Regional Judges
2021 Regional Judges
Aurora “Boots” Geotina-Garcia
CoChairperson, Philippines Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE) and President of Mageo Consulting Inc Ma. Aurora “Boots” Geotina-Garcia is the President of Mageo Consulting Inc. A Certified Public Accountant, she started her professional career at SGV & Co./ EY Philippines. Boots was the first female Chairperson of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and now sits as Member of the Board of several private corporations engaged in various industries. Boots leads the Philippine Women’s Economic Network as its Chairperson. She also Co-Chairs the Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment and was the former Co-Chair of the ASEAN Women's Entrepreneurs' Network. She was recognized as ASEAN Woman Entrepreneur at the ASEAN Business Awards in 2019. "Women have great potential to create social and economic impact in the region and in their respective communities, but their ability to succeed is largely influenced by factors within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Last year, I had the privilege of joining the regional panel of judges for the UN Women WEPs Awards. My participation gave me an insight into different stories women entrepreneurs and business leaders have to tell – from those who are just starting their bright ideas, to women who worked their way up the corporate ladder claiming that they did not only" break the proverbial glass ceiling" but they "changed the building". I was inspired to hear from the women who shared how they lived through, succeeded, and have made it their lifelong mission to mentor and help other entrepreneurs and their businesses flourish. We need to encourage , support , and fund their efforts to commit to WEPs, so we can accelerate women’s economic empowerment in the region. For these reasons, I am pleased once again to join the regional judging panel as I expect that this will be another learning experience for me."
Chief, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Section, UNESCAP Ms. Cai Cai is the Chief of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Section at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Ms. Cai Cai leads UNESCAP’s regional programmes on advancing gender equality and disability-inclusive development in Asia-Pacific. She has over 20 years of rich experience with the United Nations at the country and regional levels, covering a wide range of socioeconomic issues. She had worked with UNICEF and UNDP, focusing on policy development and capacity building that aimed to empower women and young people as a key strategy for pro-poor growth and sustainable development. Ms. Cai Cai holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. “Towards building an inclusive and resilient world, it’s important to harness the creative power and immense resources of the private sector in developing a gender-equal workplace, marketplace and community where women and girls can all grow and flourish, attaining their full potential.”
Policy Specialist - Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub Ellie Horrocks works for UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub supporting policy, research, and gender mainstreaming of the Youth Co:Lab project, which seeks to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurship in Asia-Pacific. Ellie has a background in economic and policy analysis related to employment and entrepreneurship. Before joining UNDP in 2019, Ellie worked in East Africa for Gatsby Africa and Adam Smith International, and for the UK’s Department for International Development. She has also worked as a research and evaluation consultant for the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, among others. "By adopting gender-responsive practices and business models, companies can boost their productivity, profitability, and organisational effectiveness; and deliver better outcomes for women, communities, and societies at large."
Programme Manager, Responsible Supply Chains in Asia, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific Fredy Guayacan is an Economist working with the ILO on private sector development, SMEs and responsible business conduct in global supply chains. He manages the programme Responsible Supply Chains in Asia, a joint programme between the EU, the OECD and the ILO. Prior to this assignment Fredy was the ILO’s Enterprises Specialist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and has worked in different advisory and managerial capacities with the ILO, UNDP, the UN Secretariat, governments and private sector in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. "There is not only a businesses case in the promotion of gender equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination towards women in the private sector, it is also the right thing to do, and the only way for businesses to go in today’s modern society. Recent research shows the by achieving gender equality economies and societies can benefit of it through increases in productivity, higher profitability, better competitiveness and overall economic efficiencies. Consumers, investors and markets are increasingly gender inclusion and equality as one of the important variables for them to take decisions in terms of allocations of Investment, ratings and decisions to consume certain services/goods. Despite the evident benefits, women still face a number of social, economic, and legal barriers than prevent them to entering the labour market, fully develop their professional potential and develop and grow their own businesses. Women and girls continue to be subjected to different ways of discrimination, unconscious bias as well as to harassment and violence at the work place, a situation which affects societies, their human development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030."
Vice President, Asia-Pacific, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) BSR’s global thought leadership, informed through field work and local implementations, enables us to work with member companies to create innovative sustainable solutions and globalize the sustainability dialogue. Jeremy has extensive experience in supply chain management, business integration, external communications, government relations and compliance operations. Prior to joining BSR in 2006, he spent more than 10 years on equipment sourcing, footwear production and corporate responsibility for Nike, Inc. He also worked in China for five years as the North Asia Regional Compliance Director, covering sustainability issues in Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Jeremy holds an M.S. in Economic Development from the Patterson School of Diplomacy, and an M.S. in International Commerce from the University of Kentucky. "Gender sensitive business culture and practices enable employees to have the best chance to fulfill their individual talent and promise – for the benefit of themselves, their families, their colleague and their employer. The private sector allocates capital to create job, good and services. Integrating gender equality into these basic tasks help economies and societies become more inclusive and equitable. The WEPs allow companies to understand where they are today, and where they want themselves, and their value chain, to be tomorrow. Public recognition for worth investments by private sector helps set the aspirational standards for all. I hope to add my insights to the WEP Award process."
Gender Advisor for Asia & the Pacific, UNDP A gender equality expert with 25 years of professional experiences in multi-disciplinary sustainable development. Held positions with the UN Division for the Advancement of Women (UN DAW), UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), UNDP Thailand Country Office, UNDP Regional Centre Colombo, UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre, and UNDP Sub-Regional Response Facility for Syria-related Crisis, to provide policy advisory, strategic vision-setting, analytical insights, programming, and management capacity building, working in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations, Governments, and the Private Sector partners. Currently the Asia-Pacific Gender Team Leader / Gender Advisor for UNDP, based in Bangkok, Thailand. "Impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the world of work is paramount. Employers have been rethinking their business models. Bringing gender equality, inclusion and diversity to the workplace is more than ever pertinent as we try to recover from the crisis with a different and more sustainable model. It’s great to learn from so many innovative and progressive efforts of the private sector to make this happen."
Gender and Private Sector Advisor, Value for Women Ltd Luis has over 12 years of experience in the design and implementation of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment projects, advisory services, evaluations, studies, institutional strategies, and strategic partnerships. He has worked with a variety of development organisations, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Nations, and the World Bank. At Value for Women, Luis leads global and regional landscape reporting on women’s STEM employment in the infrastructure sector, gender-lens investing, and women-led businesses’ access to finance. “The time to commit on gender equality is now. With the nature of work changing and Covid-19 halting progress on gender equality in Southeast Asia, companies in the region need to learn from each other and build on best practices to create better workplaces, products and services for women”
Executive Director, Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE) Maya Juwita is the Executive Director of Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE). Along with the board members, she initiated the establishment of IBCWE in October 2016. Maya has master degree in business law from University of Gadjah Mada in Indonesia and she is an HR professional with more than 20 years of experience, both in private sector and development sector. Prior to IBCWE, Maya joined WWF Indonesia as Head of People Development and Management where she developed 3-years roadmap for people development program including internal trainer group for the organization. She spent 4 years as Southeast Asia Regional HR Manager for the World Agroforestry Center and initiated the Junior Scientist Forum, the development program for junior scientist. Maya Juwita has experience in facilitating various training program such as leadership, people management program, gender bias, anti-sexual harassment and discrimination. As HR practitioner, she has the experience in managing overall people processes including organizational design, diversity & inclusion and change management. With her experience, Maya is leading the assistance program to IBCWE members in transforming their policies and practices using the gender lens, including diversity and inclusion aspects. In collaboration with UN Women, Maya is currently seating as judge for Women Empowerment Principles (WEP) Award, for Indonesia and Asia Pacific region. Maya is appointed as one of advocates for G20 EMPOWER Program, representing Indonesia in G20 forum, along with other business leaders from Indonesia. She also assists the B20 Secretariat to develop policies recommendation from business perspective. "The pandemic has affected everyone’s life therefore it is imperative for businesses to apply empathetic leadership style. While the employees encounter the uncertainties and challenges of having work-life balance through the blurring line between personal and work life, companies with gender-sensitive culture and practices will be able to assist their employees to go through these and eventually keeping their optimal performance"
Regional Director South East Asia and Oceania, WEConnect International Mrinalini Venkatachalam is the Regional Director for South East Asia and Oceania at WEConnect International, a global nonprofit network that works with multinational corporations and multilateral organizations to generate market-access opportunity for women’s business enterprises in over 125 countries through supplier diversity. The organization identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside the U.S. that are at least 51% owned, as well as managed and controlled, by one or more women, and then connects them to qualified buyers across the globe. WEConnect International’s network of corporate members, primarily Fortune 500 companies, represent over $1 Trillion in annual purchasing power. Over the last twelve years, Mrinalini has engaged with large corporates, government agencies, SMEs and community organizations to provide them with a platform to create measurable social impact. She speaks regularly at community events, corporate events, and conferences about the role that gender equality plays in achieving a more sustainable world for everyone. Mrinalini has been awarded the Singapore Women's Weekly's Great Women of Our Time award in the Public Service and Education category and has been nominated as one of Cleo Singapore's 2016 top ten Changemakers. “A gender sensitive business environment is not only key to improving women’s access to assets, resources and decent employment opportunities, but also a critical economic opportunity. There is strong empirical information that organizations who make gender parity an integral part of their strategic goals report that the pay-off appears at multiple levels. Companies with the most female board members outperform those with the least on return on invested capital by 26%. The effect becomes even more important when comparing companies with three or more women on their board in at least four of five years. They significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84% on return on sales, by 60% on return on invested capital and by 46% on return on equity. On a social front, when women work, they invest 90% of their income into their families, compared to 35% by men, making investing in women the most effective way for economies to recover and exceed the crushing impact of the pandemic.”
Senior Manager, Global Operations, Asia & Oceania, United Nations Global Compact. Neha Das is the Senior Manager, Global Operations, Asia & Oceania with the United Nations Global Compact. A seasoned sustainability professional, she has previously managed the Anti-Corruption portfolio of the UN Global Compact and engaged the private sector in collective action initiatives around the world. Neha has also practiced law for several years, advising on corporate and compliance laws, human rights due diligence, and CSR regulations. Neha holds a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School, USA and a B.A. LL.B (Hons.) degree from National Law Institute University, India. She has been a member of Transparency International’s Business Principles Steering Committee and was part of the UNDP’s Asia Pacific SDG Financing Facility (AP-FIN). "The UN Global Compact and UN Women joined forces over a decade ago to launch the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) - a holistic, practical framework for business action to advance gender equality - with the endorsement of 39 CEOs and we now have the commitment of over 5,100 business leaders. While there has been progress, it has been alarmingly slow. We cannot wait for 257 years for equality in women’s economic inclusion. Women don’t lack the drive and innovative ideas to run successful businesses. They lack the funding and inclusion in supply chains. COVID-19 has highlighted the systemic barriers and entrenched gender norms that must be overcome urgently. It is an honor to recognize and celebrate the WEP’s awardees who are relentlessly working for gender parity and women’s economic inclusion."
Chief of Gender Equity, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Samantha Hung is Chief of Gender Equity Thematic Group at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) where she provides leadership for advancing gender equality across all aspects of ADB operations. A dual Australian/British national, Samantha has over 20 years of experience in gender equality at project, program and policy levels in the Asia Pacific. Before joining ADB 11 years ago, Samantha held gender specialist roles for the New Zealand Agency for International Development, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, UNICEF, Australian Government and UK Institute of Development Studies. “The business case for investing in gender equality at work is well established, whether it be higher profitability, productivity, innovation or ability to retain female talent. Private sector action towards more gender-friendly workplaces has become even more crucial, given the negative gender impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and to enable gender-inclusive economic recovery."
Shomy Hasan Chowdhury
WASH Activist and Co-Founder, Awareness 360 Shomy Hasan Chowdhury is a multi-award-winning Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) activist from Bangladesh. Shomy is the Co-Founder of global non-profit Awareness 360, a Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, US Dept. of State CEE Specialist, UNDP-Samsung Global Generation17 Young Leader, Schwarzman Scholar, Commonwealth International Election Observer and Recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold) from President Barack Obama. Shomy has served as a Judge for numerous initiatives including the Commonwealth Youth Awards, Global Changemakers, Hult Prize Foundation, The Diana Legacy Award, and many more. "Women have been disproportionately affected during the global pandemic, reversing progress toward gender equality. It is more critical than ever for businesses to be more conscious and intentional in advancing gender equality, during the post-Covid recovery. It is a great way to acknowledge those who are championing gender equality with the WEPs Awards, catalyzing this global movement."
Counsellor (Political), Mission of Canada to ASEAN Vicky Singmin is Counsellor (Political) at the Mission of Canada to ASEAN, responsible for Canada’s political, security and public diplomacy efforts. Ms. Singmin has been with the Government of Canada for over 15 years, working on regional and multilateral humanitarian and development programming abroad and in Canada. Previously, Ms. Singmin served as Head of Cooperation and Counsellor (Development) at the Mission of Canada to ASEAN from 2019 to 2021. Ms. Singmin holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology and she is married with two children. "Demonstrating the impact of women’s empowerment increases global awareness of the social and economic contributions that women make to their households, communities, countries and beyond. By recognising achievements and demonstrating good practice, I hope the WEPs Awards can inspire action across a broader range of industries. It’s a great opportunity to expand our dialogue about what mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment looks like, and how there are benefits for all."