Meet International Human Rights Activist Sylvia Yu Friedman: #SUSTXGLOBAL50 2022 Awardee

The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022: #RedefiningPower - Sylvia Yu Friedman, Filmmaker, Author, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist, Hong Kong


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I believe we’re going to see the largest women’s movement rising up in our generation. It’s now time for women to break through barriers as leaders at local, national, regional and global levels in our post-Pandemic world. Women are often left out of the equation and yet have a completely unique perspective and means to bring transformative impact through their innate ability to influence, communicate and connect inspiringly, and their bold, inclusive, empathic and wise decisions. Disproportionately, it is women who suffer the most from economic and social consequences from any hardship arising from Inequality, Covid, Climate Change, Poverty and Violent Conflict. Gender equality matters! - Sylvia Yu Friedman, Filmmaker, Author, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist

Sylvia Yu Friedman is an award-winning filmmaker, Penguin author, TV host, serial entrepreneur, and philanthropy consultant. She is the author of three books including her latest Penguin memoir, A Long Road to Justice: Stories from the Frontlines in Asia*, which describes her investigation into the trafficking underworld for two decades.


Since 2005, Sylvia has managed and directed millions of dollars to major humanitarian portfolios impacting at least more than one million people**. This work has given her access to many influential networks in different countries. Sylvia was among the Top 100 Human Trafficking & Slavery Influence Leaders List in 2017 by Assent Compliance. She won the prestigious 2013 International Human Rights Press Award for her three-part documentary series on human trafficking in China, Hong Kong, and Thailand.


Sylvia led a Hong Kong-based movement against human trafficking that involved more than 120 churches, NGOs, and organizations and later expanded to other nations like Malaysia, South Africa, and the U.S. She is hosting a digital TV show called "Inspiring YOU with Sylvia Yu" and working on several business projects. She has a feature film in development based on her book, A Long Road to Justice.


Q: What is the importance of women's leadership in today's society plagued by the triple crises of COVID, Climate, and Conflict, and their deadly consequences?


I believe we’re going to see the largest women’s movement rising up in our generation. It’s now time for women to break through barriers as leaders at local, national, regional and global levels in our post-Pandemic world. Women are often left out of the equation and yet have a completely unique perspective and means to bring transformative impact through their innate ability to influence, communicate and connect inspiringly, and their bold, inclusive, empathic and wise decisions. Disproportionately, it is women who suffer the most from economic and social consequences from any hardship arising from Inequality, Covid, Climate Change, Poverty and Violent Conflict. Gender equality matters!

Q: What role do you believe women in leadership positions have to play in helping companies and brands transition towards sustainability and circularity, and why is this important?


Women’s leadership and participation in civil societies worldwide will be the hinge of history – they are key to economic growth and sustainable development; in delivering the SDGs. As we have seen the meteoric rise of women in leadership as CSOs, they have enhanced and brought increased innovations, investments in health, education policies, social protection, collaboration and awareness of natural resources and of the rights of women and the marginalized. The natural aptitude of women in influencing, demonstrating humility, inclusivity and translating complex issues will indeed help bring a tipping point towards sustainability and circularity and a just future.


Q: What can be done to improve women’s participation in corporate and leadership positions? How do we achieve this?


To close the gender divide in the corporate and public arena, we can mobilize and create more opportunities for women to take on leadership roles but a strategy for gender equality and gender diversity has to come from the top and be driven by a company-wide culture that empowers women to thrive. It’s crucial to encourage and harness the power of mentoring women at all levels from entry positions to those in executive roles and to foster women to proactively raise up and promote other women. Bolder and more urgent action is needed as women remain the most underutilized assets in our societies and gender equality in civil society and corporations remain one of the most pressing challenges of our time in every country in the world.


Q: What does this award mean to you and what significance does it hold to you personally and/or professionally, and your company?


As a daughter of Korean immigrants in Canada, it is an amazing recognition that I’m grateful for and I give credit to my parents for being my first role models – their sacrificial spirit, incredible work ethic and selfless service to their community have inspired me. I hope this award helps amplify my life message that the world must wake up and take action to end the exploitation and trafficking of girls and women because this very egregious enslavement will continue to increase exponentially due to post-Pandemic economic hardship and the displacement of vulnerable people caused by climate change. Each of us has the power to effect change as small acts multiplied by millions of people can change our world.


*A Long Road to Justice: Stories from the Frontlines in Asia is a memoir describing Sylvia's 20+ year personal journey in the fight against slavery through supporting philanthropic initiatives and raising awareness through writing articles and producing films. Through her work in journalism, counter-trafficking and philanthropy, Sylvia has had rare and incredible access to victims of sex trafficking and modern slavery in China, Thailand, Cambodia, North Korea, South Korea, Myanmar and Indonesia. Amid this terrible human suffering, she has seen frontline workers carrying a great light that has overcome the darkness in some of the most frightening places on Earth. Learn more.


**Sylvia is also a volunteer fundraiser for The Mekong Club, an organization that works with the private sector to bring about sustainable practices towards the fight against modern slavery. Companies join the Mekong Club business association as Members. They gain access to an expert team, a suite of tools, cutting-edge resources, one-on-one support, and a community of likeminded organizations seeking to address global modern slavery trends and issues. The organization also conducts international speaking tours, providing free talks on modern slavery spanning multiple continents. Learn more.

 

The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022


The SustainabilityX® Magazine proudly announced the release of The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s inaugural Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ 2022 on Oct 4th, 2022, an inaugural annual list celebrating the powerful work of women in sustainability leadership around the world.


The non-profit digital magazine’s Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards™ high-level, invite-only program graciously sponsored by the award-winning Canadian construction and engineering firm Belnor Engineering Inc., recognizes achievements of the world’s powerful, groundbreaking female sustainability leaders who’re bridging the gender gap by breaking barriers, shattering traditional stereotypes, and taking the world of sustainability by storm. This campaign is in line with the magazine’s third pillar of sustainability upon which SustainabilityX® is based: social inclusion, which involves marginalized populations and vulnerable communities such as women, persons with disabilities, unemployed youth, LGBTQ+, the elderly, and BIPOC minorities.


“As both a female and one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 In Sustainability Leadership myself, I know how important this is,” says Supriya Verma, founder of The SustainabilityX® Magazine. “The number of women in positions of leadership – from business to politics – are relatively few. With society plagued by the triple crises of COVID, climate, conflict, and their deadly consequences, how can the world advance and achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals without having women in decision-making positions at major organizations, political parties, and academic institutions?”


In The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s quest to ‘redefine power’, this is the first international power-list bringing together women around the world involved in sustainability celebrating the power of their work – not their position. This list brings together a diverse group of accomplished women across business, entertainment, academia, law, politics, and beyond ranging from some of the world's leading companies, to independent unsung heroes with one thing in common: using their power with purpose –the power to create change and influence lives to make the world a better place. After all, that's what sustainability is all about. The meaning, or ‘the power’ of one’s work matters, not one’s position in a corporate hierarchy, particularly during this crucial era.


View the full list: The SustainabilityX® Magazine Global 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022

 

About The SustainabilityX® Magazine


The SustainabilityX® Magazine is an award-winning, digital, female-founded, and female-led non-profit initiative bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue. Founded on May 8, 2016 and inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability Leadership awardee, Supriya Verma, the digital media initiative focuses on approaching the world’s most pressing challenges with a holistic, integrated, systems-based perspective as opposed to the traditional and ineffective siloed approach with a single lens on interdisciplinary topics like climate and energy. This initiative ultimately seeks to explore how to effectively bring the environment and economy together through intellectual, insightful dialogue and thought-provoking discussion amongst individuals across sectors taking an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to untangling the intricate web of sustainability.


The SustainabilityX® Magazine is based upon the four pillars of sustainability: Environmental Stewardship which emphasizes improved environmental health, Economic Prosperity which emphasizes economic growth without the element of capitalism, Social Inclusion which emphasizes EDI for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities and marginalized, vulnerable populations, and Just Governance which emphasizes the equal rule of law via responsible political leadership to create fair systems for all. Identifying the diverse factors involved in sustainability, how they interact and how the disciplines are interconnected will help accelerate local, national, and international sustainability goals – in simpler words, aligning with The SustainabilityX® Magazine’s mission of bringing the environment and economy together for a sustainable future through dialogue for a sustainable future. Whether you have a background in science, engineering, business, law, politics, media and entertainment, or beyond, your voice matters.


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