What The Women of Hope 2018 Awards Represent
Every spare surface in Anson Chan’s home must be buried under awards. During her more than 40 years in the public eye as a politician and human rights campaigner, Anson has ceaselessly fought for democracy, defended press freedom and raised Hong Kong’s profile on the world stage—work that has earned her international acclaim and countless prestigious honours.
Award ceremonies have been some of the more glamorous moments in Anson’s political career, but they also give her a rare moment to pause and reflect on her achievements and values. “It is, of course, always gratifying to know that one’s efforts are appreciated,” Anson says.
“Winning the Power and Influence Women of Hope award in 2016 reinforced my view that power and influence should not be used for personal gain and self-aggrandisement, but to make a difference to our community and to bring hope to people. We all have a contribution to make.”
A win-win situation
Jo Soo-Tang, founder of the Women of Hope initiative, couldn’t agree more. When she established the non-profit in 2014, Jo had two goals in mind: she wanted to raise awareness of and funds for the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation (HKAHF) while simultaneously celebrating women making a difference in Hong Kong.
To achieve these objectives, Jo set up a platform through which members of the public could vote online for inspiring women working in a variety of sectors, with the winners announced at a glamorous fundraising lunch for HKAHF. It’s a win-win situation.
The first year, there were only 60 guests and it was a “very small, intimate affair,” Jo remembers. But that informal gathering is now a distant memory. Every year, Women Of Hope has grown, honouring more inspiring women and raising more funds for the HKAHF. This year’s event will be held on May 18 in the ballroom of the JW Marriott.
“I am very proud of how it’s grown in terms of attendees, sponsors, who have become friends, and especially the number of committee members involved,” Jo says. “It takes a village to do anything, so relationships are key to any event of this nature.” One of Jo’s earliest supporters was Sharie Ross-Tse, who sits on the board of governers of the HKAHF.
See also: A Day In The Life Of Sharie Ross-Tse
“I feel exceptionally proud to be a part of such a great organisation that celebrates the achievements of women from all disciplines of Hong Kong society, as well as to raise funds for a cause that is very close to my heart,” Sharie says.
The proceeds from the Women of Hope lunch event go to HKAHF’s Cancer Fund. As Sharie herself is a cancer survivor, she personally understands how important it is to quickly diagnose and treat cancer. “Women of Hope is a big step forward to reinforce the mission of HKAHF, which is to raise funds for the underprivileged so that they can have access to immediate PET/CT scans, breast screenings, MRIs and also access to the hospital’s oncological resources,” Sharie explains.
This year, the HKAHF is also starting to fund tailored treatments for pediatric cases. Funds for all of these initiatives are raised during the Women of Hope lunch at which the winners of the awards are announced. This year there are eight award categories, with four nominees in each: culture, champion for a better life, children’s advocate, eco-warrior, entrepreneur, global champion, health advocate, and power and influence.
See also: Meet all the nominees for 2018's Women of Hope awards
Saving the Earth
Jeanine Hsu, founder of jewellery and accessories brand Niin, was presented with the Eco-Warrior award in 2017. “The first I heard of Women of Hope was when I received the email that I had been nominated for the Eco-Warrior award,” Jeanine recalls. “It was such an honour and I really did not expect to win it.”
Eco-friendliness has always been at the core of Niin. Jeanine uses cast-offs from a furniture factory that she up-cycles into her designs and has donated sale proceeds and helped raise awareness for environmental organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Cuipo and the Clean Air Network.
See also: Less Is More ft. Jeanine Hsu of niin Jewellery
“Being presented with the Women of Hope Eco-Warrior award gave me so much encouragement to keep going, especially as it is an honest public vote,” Jeanine says. “It has empowered me to keep following my heart and passion to spread the message to tread lightly on the Earth.” Jeanine has now expanded Niin’s environmental initiatives and is also working to secure government funding for the communities in Thailand and the Philippines where Niin’s artisans are based.
Since winning her Women of Hope Power and Influence award in 2016, Anson has continued to fight for a variety of causes. “I support gender diversity and inclusiveness, so that girls and women can have equal access to opportunities,” Anson says. “We also need to articulate and protect Hong Kong’s core values and lifestyle against increasing attempts to undermine Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and our basic rights and freedom.”
As past winners, both Jeanine and Anson pay close attention to the Women of Hope nominees every year. Both say all of this year’s nominees are deserving of recognition, but Jeanine is especially rooting for Ava Kwong, founder and chairman of the Hong Kong Hereditary Breast Cancer Family Registry and the chief of the breast surgery division at the University of Hong Kong Medical Centre.
“Ava is a strong, dedicated and intelligent woman who has been educating and helping to support and cure breast cancer patients ever since I can remember,” says Jeanine.
See also: Leonard x Hong Kong Tatler Presents: Giving Back With Ava Kwong
Anson, meanwhile, is especially inspired by Shalini Mahtani, the founder and former CEO of Community Business, a non-profit organisation that helps companies implement effective corporate social responsibility projects.
“I particularly admire her contribution to alleviating the hardship and difficulties faced by the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong,” says Anson. But ultimately, Anson, Jeanine, Sharie and Jo are inspired by all of the women nominated this year—and they hope you are, too.
“The Women of Hope initiative is successful because it singles out women who truly inspire by their beliefs, their personal conduct, their actions and their passion,” explains Anson. “They are excellent role models for young people, both male and female.”
Learn more about the Women of Hope 2018 awards and cast your votes at hkahf.org.hk
Women of Hope would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support: Friends of Asia Hong Kong, Stefere Jewelry, Northacre London, Cyrcadia Asia, Vestiaire Collective, KOTUR, Phase Eight and The Coffee Academics