FemParl: Elect. Engage. Empower.

FemParl is back for its third installment in South and Southeast Asia!

Bangkok, Thailand | January 9-11, 2018

Women are grossly under-represented at all levels of governance, particularly in leadership positions and continue to face many challenges and barriers preventing them from being in positions to share their voice and influence decision making.

Equality Matters

“…society is better – more prosperous, peaceful, secure, and cohesive – when women’s rights are respected, when women are valued and empowered, and when they lead the way in our communities. While we have taken significant steps toward gender equality, we know that much more work needs to be done. Women around the world continue to receive lower pay and fewer promotions.”

- The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Challenges including; gender discrimination at all levels, lack of opportunities in career advancements, violence, online bullying, early and forced marriage as well as security, social and/or family pressures prevent women from leaving home and participating fully in society.

FemParl 2018: Elect. Engage. Empower.

This year’s initiative builds upon similar dialogues (FemParl I and FemParl II) organized by Canada’s High Commissions to Sri Lanka and India in 2016 and 2017.

This program brings together 25 young women leaders from 14 countries across South and Southeast Asia, along with local and regional partners to encourage and support active, equal, and meaningful women’s participation in political and governance processes at national, regional, and global levels. The program will also highlight the importance of inclusive policy-making that encourages and includes women and youth leadership.

Follow and join the conversation

You can follow along and join the conversation via #FemParl.

You can also follow our host, the Embassy of Canada in Thailand on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet the delegates!

This year’s program features a series of interactive capacity-building, leadership, networking, and knowledge sharing sessions focused on female empowerment and inclusion.

Highlights include a discussion on barriers to women’s participation in politics and policy making with Canadian Senator Marilou McPhedran and interactive sessions with high-ranking women at the United Nations Regional Headquarters for the Asia-Pacific in Bangkok. FemParl delegates will have the opportunity to engage with inspiring and accomplished women working in various fields.


Manizha Wafeq

Manizha Wafeq – President - Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries Country Manager and Trainer for PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS Program

For the last 10 years, Manizha has been a trainer and country manager for the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program, aimed at teaching and mentoring Afghan businesswomen. She co-authored Gender and the Legal Framework of Afghanistan, a training and startup business manual. She is the co-founder of several organizations that advocate for women's economic empowerment and has won several awards for her leadership in this area.

She has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from American University of Afghanistan, Kabul and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Kardan University, Kabul.


Mahjabeen Khaled

Mahjabeen Khaled – Member of Parliament

As an active member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for foreign Affairs, Mahjabeen Khaled has worked tirelessly and extensively traveled to promote and develop existing diplomatic and political relation of Bangladesh.

To that extent her travel has taken her to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and China. She has also worked on migration issues specially focusing on South Asia and has traveled to Lebanon, Jordan, Brunei, and Malaysia to speak on behalf of issues threatening cross border migration.

Mahjabeen received her Bachelor of Arts from Loreto College, Darjeeling, India.

Hosne Ara Begum

Hosne Ara Begum – Member of Parliament National Parliament of Bangladesh, Member Standing Committee on Ministry of Defiance, Advocate/ Lawyer Bangladesh Supreme Court

Hosne is a lawyer and received her L.L.B (Hon’s) and L.L.M from Dhaka University.

She is Cabinet Member at Lions Club- 315A-2; Member at Lions Club of Dhaka Narayangonj City; Life Member at Bangladesh Red Crescent Society; Director at Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Narayangonj Unit and Life Member of Bangladesh Law Association.

Brunei Darussalam

Khairunnisa Ash’ari

Khairunnisa Ash’ari – Member, Brunei Legislative Council

The Honourable Khairunnisa Ash’ari is a multiple award-winning youth advocate who actively promotes youth development and environmental sustainability in Brunei and in the region. She is currently an appointed member of the Brunei Legislative Council since 2017.

She co-founded Green Brunei in 2012, a youth-led social enterprise that promotes environmental sustainability through education, conservation, and advocacy. In addition, she is the Green Xchange Director for the Society for Community Outreach and Training, an NGO that aims to eradicate poverty in Brunei. She has also co-managed the ASEAN Young Professionals Volunteer Corps programme and led volunteer trips to Indonesia, The Philippines, and Vietnam between 2013 and 2014 on issues including education, entrepreneurship, the environment, and special needs training.


Ms. Sopheap Chak

Ms. Sopheap Chak – Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)

Sopheap Chak is the Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), one of the leading human rights organizations working for the promotion and protection of political and civil rights in Cambodia. As one of the country's most prominent human rights advocates, Sopheap's work has been recognized by former United States President Barack Obama.

She holds two Bachelor’s degrees, one in International Relations and one in Economics. She also achieved a Master’s Degree in International Peace Studies from the International University of Japan.


Ms. Kirthi Jayakumar

Ms. Kirthi Jayakumar – Activist, artist, entrepreneur and writer and Founder of Red Elephant Foundation

Kirthi Jayakumar is an activist, artist, entrepreneur and writer from Chennai, India. She founded and runs the Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peacebuilding initiative that works for gender equality through storytelling, advocacy and digital interventions. She also founded and runs fynePRINT, a feminist e-publishing imprint.

Kirthi is a member of the Youth Working Group for Gender Equality under the UNIANYD. She is the recipient of the US Presidential Services Medal (2012) for her services as a volunteer to Delta Women NGO, and a two-time recipient of the UN Online Volunteer of the Year Award (2012, 2013). Her work has been published in The Guardian and TIME Magazine.

Priyanka Chhawri

Priyanka Chhawri – Former Vice President of the Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU) and Master of Law Student, Delhi University

Priyanka is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Law from Delhi University. She is a graduate in Mathematics from Lakshimibai College, Delhi. She was selected among the top 10 influential Women Student Leaders of India in 2017 by Aaapka Times – a youth focussed news portal.

She also represented India as a "National Leader" in SWY - Ship for World Youth Leaders in Japan. She has been nominated for the prestigious Bharat Gaurav Award for her work in Student Activism & Youth Empowerment. Priyanka has participated in youth debates on national TV and is often invited as a speaker to various events.


Thip Nouansyvong

Thip Nouansyvong – Legal Advisor and Pro Bono Program Manager, Law and Development Partnership (LDP)

Thip is a member of the Lao Bar Association and has been with Law and Development Partnership (LDP) since October 2015, strengthening the Clinical Legal Education Programme which focus on community outreach and in-house consultation clinic.

She also “trains the trainers” in government and civil society on sustainable development through the Land Learning Initiative for Food Security Enhancement Project. Thip received her Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the Faculty of Law and Political Science, National University of Laos.

Siriphone Southammavong (Nok)

Siriphone Southammavong (Nok) – Deputy Chief of the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Division

Siriphone Southammavong has served as an officer of the Foreign Affairs Department, Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly of Laos since 2014 and was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Division, Inter-Parliamentary Relations Department in 2017.

She is also an English news anchor at Lao National Television, has co-hosted television documentaries, appeared in many magazines and had been master of ceremonies for various private and government events.

She received her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia and her Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from Holmes Institute, Melbourne, Australia.


Ms. Maryam Ramli Lee

Ms. Maryam Ramli Lee – Program Manager at Projek Dialog

Maryam conceptualises and directs forums, festivals, and events on socio-cultural discourse. She also leads projects that connect theories and ideas to the Malaysian public, particularly the Malaysian youth, in order to promote a vibrant intellectual culture that is responsive to the problems in Malaysia today. She is a producer and director for Dialog Jalanan, a video log version of critical discourse on various topics relevant to Malaysians.

She has written several opinion pieces for Malay Mail Online and has been invited as a guest of BFM radio to talk on contemporary socio-political issues. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in education from Universiti Teknologi MARA.

Tan Heang-Lee

Tan Heang-Lee – Communications Officer, Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)

Heang-Lee coordinates the media and online advocacy for Women’s Aid Organization – a leading women’s rights NGO in Malaysia. In 2016, she led a media campaign on gender discrimination in the workplace, which has been referenced by Members of Parliament, government agencies, and other stakeholders. The campaign won a Public Affairs Award (Gold) at the Malaysia PR Awards 2016/17 and has spurred policy discussion on enacting a Gender Equality Act for Malaysia.

She has been featured on a number of Malaysian media outlets, and quoted by Reuters, TIME, AFP and various Malaysian publications, commenting on gender equality and human rights. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.


Ms. Safaath Ahmed Zahir

Ms. Safaath Ahmed Zahir – Women's rights activist

Safaath helps to empower women in the workplace. She gained an internship at a capital market regulatory authority. During her time there she spoke at a seminar promoting the initiative of women joining corporate boards. She was then invited to become the Secretary General of Women on Boards Maldives. Members work to encourage the government and businesses to consider broader female participation in their organisations.

Safaath hopes to empower Maldivian women, open a day care centre for children and will release a documentary about women in business in the Maldives.


Ranju Darshana

Ranju Darshana – Women's rights activist

Ranju is currently the Media Chief and Central Committee Member of the newly formed Bibeksheel Nepali political party. She is involved with the party’s social services club and has led various social programs. She headed the party’s Kathmandu District Executive Wing for eight months until December 2015. She recently assisted with the provincial elections campaign during December 2017.

Ranju Darshana made headlines when she ran for the Mayor’s office for Kathmandu Metropolitan City in May 2017. Although she was not elected, she became well known for her powerful campaign. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in development studies.


Rimmel Mohydin

Rimmel Mohydin – Head of Communications with Justice Project Pakistan

Ms. Mohydin is currently Head of Communications with Justice Project Pakistan, a highly-respected, pro-bono human rights law firm which specializes in the death penalty, prisoner rights, and strategic litigation. Her responsibilities include media relations, social media strategies, and contributions to international advocacy to assist JPP’s clients both in Pakistan and abroad. Previously, Ms. Mohydin served as a staff reporter and then Associated Editor for Newsweek Pakistan.

She also worked for three years as Program Coordinator for the Lahore Literary Festival, the largest such festival in Pakistan which is widely regarded as a bastion of free speech and challenging discussion in a society which faces restrictions on freedom of expression. Ms. Mohydin holds a Bachelor of Science in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is based in Lahore.

Rafia Saleem

Rafia Saleem – Writer, Researchers, and Environmental Activists

Ms. Saleem is a writer, researcher and environmental activist who works to educate the general public, particularly children and youth, on environmental protection and climate change. Through her advocacy and activism, she has helped her local community raise its voice on important issues, like polluted drinking water and waste management. She currently scripts, produces, and presents an eco-centered local radio program “Sabz Khawab” focused on raising environmental awareness.

Ms. Saleem is the recipient of many awards including the Presidential Award of Excellence, the Young Eco-Hero Award, and the Fatima Jinnah Memorial Gold Medal. She is a Fellow of the State Department’s Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Program, the Swedish Institute’s Young Connectors of the Future Program and the Adaptation Finance Fellowship of the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. She is a chartered accountant by training and currently works as Head of Risk and Compliance at the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) Microfinance Bank Ltd., a social enterprise working on poverty alleviation in Pakistan. She is based in Bahawalpur.


Carrie Tan

Carrie Tan – Executive Director at Daughters Of Tomorrow (DOT)

Carrie is the founding Executive Director and chief driver of DOT’s mission, having dedicated herself to full-time enablement of livelihoods for underprivileged women since 2012. She holds overall strategic and operational responsibility for Daughters Of Tomorrow’s programs, staff, expansion, and execution of its mission.

In Nov 2015, Carrie was selected from amongst 500 young leaders at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative to introduce President Obama at a Town Hall meeting in Kuala Lumpur. In May 2016, she was awarded Honoree for the Children, World Peace and Human Rights category in the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award by Junior Chambers International in Singapore. Recognition of her work in empowering underprivileged women in Singapore was given by President Obama who mentioned her in a press conference during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s state visit to the White House in August 2016.

Carrie Tan

Nabilah Husna – Communications Senior Executive at The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)

Nabilah Husna is the Communications Senior Executive of AWARE, Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group. She develops and oversees aspects of communications, media engagement, advocacy and marketing of AWARE’s programmes and services, which has included campaigns for greater protection for violence survivors and stronger support for single parent families. She has a keen interest in social media advocacy, positive visual storytelling, and creating accessible content for culturally specific change-making, with a particular focus on domestic and sexual violence, informal caregiving and its impact on women, and gender equality in Malay-Muslim families.

Wenyi Weng

Wenyi Weng – Assistant Director, Next Generation Systems Directorate

As the Assistant Director for Next Generations Systems Directorate, Wenyi Weng leads a team of police officers, functioning as the police’s first tech start-up and pioneering new digital technologies and agile development methods. She previously served as the Head of Research for Singapore’s Traffic Police, a Commander Officer with the Punggol Neighbourhood Police Centre, and Strategic Planning Officer with Police Headquarters. She graduated from the London School of Economics with a BA in History and MSc in History of International Relations.

Sri Lanka

Mahishaa Balraj

Mahishaa Balraj – Co-Founder of Hashtag Generation

Mahishaa is currently an Executive Assistant at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), an international feminist organization working to strengthen the voice, impact, and influence of women’s rights advocates, organizations, and movements internationally.

She is the Co-Founder of Hashtag Generation, a collective of young people committed to using online and offline tools to facilitate a meaningful dialogue on youth engagement and gender equality in Sri Lanka. Hashtag Generation was a 2016 grantee of the FRIDA Youth Feminist Fund and Mahishaa was the Chairperson for this project WeGovernSL, through which a series of workshops were conducted across the country for young women aspiring to run for public office in Sri Lanka. The Hashtag Generation social media platforms are extremely popular in Sri Lanka and catalyze important discussion of gender, sexuality, violence and youth engagement in Sri Lanka.


Sutharee Wannasiri

Sutharee Wannasiri – Human Rights Specialist at Fortify Rights

Sutharee started working with Fortify Rights in 2015, focusing on key human rights concerns in Thailand and building collaboration with national, international, and UN agencies. She was working as a Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Amnesty International Thailand when she participated in the DTP program and then worked with the UN’s regional OHCHR office in Bangkok focused on the prevention of torture and monitoring the conflict in southern Thailand.

Sutharee is currently working closely with a community-based group protesting a gold mining operation in northeast Thailand and the lack of protection for human rights defenders and business and human rights, especially relating to mining and extractive industries.

Sutharee received a Master’s degree in Human Rights Practice from an Erasmus Mundus joint program with Goteborg University in Sweden, Roehampton University in the United Kingdom, and University of Tromso in Norway. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Chulalongkorn University.

Ada Chirapaisarnkul

Ada Chirapaisarnkul – Founder and Managing Director, Thai Young Philanthropist Network (TYPN)

Ada Chirapaisarnkul is a pioneer in the fields of social entrepreneurship and social investment in Thailand. She is currently Head of Social Impact Advisory with ChangeVentures, Founder and Managing Director of Thai Young Philanthropist Network (TYPN), and a Board Member of Khonthai Foundation.

Previously, Ada was a university lecturer and co-founding executive director of GLab (Social Innovation Lab) at Thammasat University, and assistant vice president at Government Housing Bank. Ada holds a Master’s degree in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London, another Master’s degree in International Finance and Economic Policy from Columbia University, and a Honors Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Thammasat University. She is a British Chevening scholar, Rockefeller Foundation Global Fellow on Social Innovation, Asia 21 Young Leader of the Asia Society, One Young World Ambassador, and a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum.

Busayapa Srisompong (Best)

Busayapa Srisompong (Best) – Founder at SHero and Advocacy Coordinator at Suwannimiit Foundation

A law graduate and women's rights advocate, Busayapa has made it her mission to stand up for women's rights in Thailand as the founder of She Hero, an organization that works to combat gender-based violence in Thailand. Working alongside a women's rights based organization in Mae Sot, Busayapa is working to challenge attitudes that have normalised violence against women. She is also working to help women to receive justice for violence perpetrated against them.


Ms. Ngan Phuong Loan

Ms. Ngan Phuong Loan – Non-party National Assembly Deputy

Ngan Phuong Loan, an Australian alumnus of Nung ethnic minority, has become Lang Son’s only woman member of the 14th National Assembly, after being elected in May 2016.

Ngan Phuong Loan studied the Master of Education program at RMIT (Melbourne campus, Australia) on the Vietnamese Government’s SEQAP (Quality Assurance Program for School Education) scholarship from 2014 to 2015. After finishing her studies, she went back to her teaching position at Lang Son Pedagogy College, where she actively used what she had learned in Australia. Ms Phuong Loan was also chosen to be one of the presenters at the 2nd International VietTESOL conference in Hanoi in November 2015. In Ngan Phuong Loan’s plan of action to run for the National Assembly, she indicated her strong interest in gender issues and education for ethnic minority students in Lang Son. She wrote that she was anxious about helping to improve the working and studying conditions for teachers and students, especially in remote communes and career opportunities for students after graduation.

Ms. Hua Thi Ha

Ms. Hua Thi Ha – Vice Chair, Women’s Union of Son Duong District, Tuyen Quang province, Northern Highlands

Hua is currently the Vice Chair of the Women’s Union of Song Duong District in Tuyen Quang province of Vietnam.

She is also a member of the Ethnicity Council of the National Assembly. As a member of the San Diu group, an ethnic minority in the Tuyen Quang province of the northern highlands of Vietnam, she is passionate about minority rights.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Hanoi University of Science and Technology.