UN Women 2020 Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards: Meet the Judges

We are thrilled to introduce the regional and national judging panels for the UN Women 2020 Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards!

Sponsored by the European Union, WeEmpowerAsia launched the WEPs Awards with the aim of recognizing and encouraging the efforts of individuals and businesses that promote gender-inclusive business cultures and the achievement of gender equality guided by the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). More than 400 outstanding applications were received across 17 Asian countries! As part of the wider regional initiative, WeEmpowerAsia countries China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Viet Nam are celebrating with national ceremonies throughout November. Meet the panel of external judges who have carefully assessed the applications using their expertise in private sector initiatives for gender equality.

Visit the UN Women 2020 Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards website to learn more and tune in LIVE as we announce the winners throughout November and build momentum towards the Regional Ceremony on Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 at 15:30-17:30 (GMT+7)!

REGIONAL (incl. Thailand & Malaysia)

Aditi Mohapatra works with BSR members across sectors to help them improve and advance their sustainability strategies. She leads BSR’s global portfolio of work on women’s empowerment across consulting, collaboration, and research. Aditi joined BSR after several years at Calvert Investment Management, a leading sustainable and responsible investment firm. There, she led strategic planning for Calvert’s executive committee, and held various roles within the sustainability research team. Her portfolio included companies in the information and communications technology sector, and she led corporate engagements on the subjects of gender corporate governance and gender equality, including the advancement of the Calvert Women’s Principles. Aditi holds an M.B.A. in Finance from George Washington University and a B.S. in International Economics from the University of Florida.

“The Women’s Empowerment Principles provide a powerful and unique framework for companies to recognize their opportunities to influence the status of women—from employment practices to supplier relationships and product and service development.”

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.

“We believe that gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace must be embedded in our business strategies as it will yield sustainable benefits, including higher profitability and productivity and increased ability to retain talent. We continue to strive for inclusive progress built upon a common understanding across the workplace, home, and broader community."

Dr. Marcella Lucas is an innovation strategist who brings a global perspective to solving problems through innovative methods and solutions. She has worked with cross-cultural teams in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. Trained and certified as a Blue Ocean Strategy practitioner, Marcella was recruited to Malaysia in 2014 to deliver on strategic initiatives to support the National Transformation efforts of the Malaysian government. Marcella is now the CEO of LeadWomen, a Malaysian grown enterprise which focuses on getting more women onto Board of Directors and into C-suite positions. Under Marcella’s leadership, LeadWomen has developed from a training provider to now provide a One-Stop-Solution for high calibre candidates looking for board opportunities and for boards looking for the right talent to meet their business needs.

"Innovative solutions to address today’s challenges require diversity of thought. It requires us tapping into the potential of all - including the women in our companies and wider communities."

Joni Simpson is Senior Specialist in Gender, Equality and Non-Discrimination for East and South East Asia and the Pacific at the International Labour Organization (ILO). She provides technical guidance and support on gender equality, non-discrimination and women’s economic empowerment approaches to ILO constituents and partners for policies and programmes relating to gender, inclusion and non-discrimination in the world of work. Joni has over 20 years promoting women’s leadership and women’s entrepreneurship – and was ILO’s Global Coordinator & Specialist in Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Entrepreneurship Education in Geneva for seven years. Joni also has over ten years of experience in Community Economic Development and Community Credit micro finance, working on building accessible and gender-responsive programmes and policies in Entrepreneurship Development. 

“By promoting gender equality and responsible business practices and including dedicated actions to ensure workplaces are free from all forms of discrimination, violence and harassment, companies can increase their bottom line and attract and retain talent, making themselves more competitive and resilient. This is more important than ever, since the COVID-19 crisis has put at risk prior gains and progress in terms of gender equality and its respective contribution to business development, economic growth and inclusive sustainable development.” 

Pranapda is a Director of Siam Motors Group, President of Siam Music Yamaha, and Siam Nissan Automobiles. She is Chairwoman and Co-Founder of Paroshoot, a fashion retail & distribution company that operates 70+ outlets in Thailand, including Christian Louboutin, Berluti, Petit Bateau, Havaianas, and Missoni. In 2019, she founded Dragonfly360, a regional platform bringing business leaders, influencers and activists together to catalyze public action for gender equality and women’s empowerment. She also championed the ‘Right to Breathe’ environmental campaign as a member of YPO ASEAN United and founding member of YPO Zen Pacific. She holds a BA from Brown University.

“The private sector can change their corporate policies and governance for the advancement of women in order to achieve a more gender-neutral environment. Leaders can support equal pay, encourage more women on the board, set quantitative recruitment goals to support gender equality and ensure there is transparency in the candidates selection process in order to create an equal opportunity workplace which leads to a better society as a whole.”

Richa leads Oxfam in Asia’s research and policy work in the region. Her current work focusses on addressing women’s unpaid and underpaid work in Asia through a multi-stakeholder regional alliance, and providing technical support in addressing gender inequality and justice. Richa is a feminist, who prior to Oxfam, worked with national and international agencies in Asia to ensure women’s and citizens’ voice influence policy and practice; served as the Gender Advisor to the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs in assisting women’s economic empowerment in Afghanistan; and worked with CSO and governments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and other fragile zones to integrate women’s agenda in the policy arena.

Samantha Hung is the 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. 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 the UK Institute of Development Studies. 

“As the largest creator of jobs in developing countries, the private sector has a critical role to play in advancing women’s economic empowerment and SDG 5, including through more gender-inclusive employment and workplace practices.”

Ruth Lancaster is a Business Development and Partnerships Specialist. Her work focuses on increasing women’s participation in markets, and dignified employment opportunities by developing shared value partnerships across multi sectors. Her involvement with small-and large-scale partnerships has focused on the issue of modern slavery, enabling the empowerment of women and girls, the implementation of ethical work practices and policies, and the scaling of proven programs. Ruth has presented on these issues at a number of forums including the LEGACY Summit, Social Enterprise World Forum and at major brand events and seminars. Ruth holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and Master of Business Administration along with continued studies on a Master of International Development.

“Businesses have the opportunity to create a more equal and inclusive business world - one that supports and works hard to empower diverse women. However, it should not be just about ‘ticking boxes’ or appearing to do the ‘right’ thing but by initiating ground breaking bold steps with the aim of achieving lasting change in the power and choices women have over their own lives.”

Luis Marquez has been working for over 15 years in promoting gender equality in the public and private sectors through his work with organizations like the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, United Nations, and dozens of investors and corporations across Asia, Africa and Latin America. At Value for Women, Luis leads projects that provide impact investors, banks and governments with gender-lens advisory support. Luis holds a BS in Business Administration from Boston University and an MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

“Applying a gender lens to the workforce, market and value chains of businesses is not rocket science. It is the right and smart thing to do. The WEPs help us by giving us a common language to speak to each other about how to take gender action and learn from each other.”

Koh Miyaoi is currently the Asia-Pacific Gender Team Leader and Gender Advisor for UNDP, based in Bangkok, Thailand and a gender equality expert with 25 years of professional experiences in multi-disciplinary sustainable development. She has 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. Working in collaboration with civil society organizations, governments, and the private sector partners, she has provided policy advisory, strategic vision-setting, analytical insights, programming, and management capacity building.  

“The private sector is an engine of economic growth, and their influence over shaping the business ecosystem, including their own workplaces, to be more inclusive and gender-equal must be appreciated.  With their committed actions, we can expect transformative changes to the world of work so that it is more future-oriented and SDG-aligned.”

Dr. Wichai serves as the Business and Economic Development Manager at Kenan where he provides business consulting services to support and enhance the development of sustainable competitiveness for SMEs and non-profit organizations in Thailand. He worked with USAID, UNDEF and Citi Foundation supporting women’s empowerment in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, providing training and coaching to women leaders on project and grant management, financial literacy, and building linkages with key mobilizers.

“Factors influencing occupational success – expectations about women’s reproductive role, barriers to networking opportunities and perceptions of men as more rational, decisive, and daring – create obstacles for women to fully participate in business. We believe that by adopting the WEPs framework, private sector is better positioned to endorse and validate good practices, and highlight areas for improvement.” 

Maya Juwita is Executive Director of Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE), which is a coalition of companies that are committed to promote women’s economic empowerment and gender equality at workplace. Prior to the current position, she was Head of HR at WWF Indonesia and HR Manager for Southeast Asia Regional Program at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) which harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. She has also served as a HR & GA Manger at the Partnership for Governance Reform (Kemitraan) which was a multi-stake holders’ organization with mission to establish fair, democratic and sustainable governance in Indonesia. She has a master’s degree in business law from the University of Gadjah Mada.

“The world is populated by men and women almost equally. By fostering gender-sensitive culture and practices, companies are actually ensuring their future sustainability by getting business insights from both genders which lead to maximum performance and growth.”


Dagmar Walter, a Swedish-Swiss national, is Director of the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for South Asia and Country Office for India. Prior to this position, she was Deputy Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean. Officer-in-Charge for extended periods, she fostered office efficiency and team spirit for more integrated technical assistance to constituents at national and CARICOM levels, in collaboration with stakeholders and development partners. Key areas included formalization, knowledge development through data and research, gender equality, inclusive workplace, health promotion for productivity, child labour and youth employment, capacitated social partners, and just transition to environmental sustainability for climate resilience and a greener future of work.

"The WEPs Awards are laudable as the first awards initiative in the Asia Pacific region which highlights exemplary business practice aligned to the seven guiding principles in the UN Women and UN Global Compact’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Recognizing business efforts is an important step towards gender-responsive value chains and to inspire others to follow suit."

Dr. Sangita Reddy is a Global Healthcare Leader, Indian Entrepreneur and Humanitarian. She is the Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited - Asia's largest and most trusted healthcare group. Dr. Reddy is also the President of The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Chairman at Apollo Knowledge. Passionately committed to transforming healthcare system through technological advancements, she is accelerating positive transformation for effective healthcare service delivery. She has been conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by Macquarie University Australia, in recognition of her untiring efforts and resolute commitment to bringing transformative changes in healthcare, development of Health IT and championing manifold initiatives both in India and abroad. One of her initiatives is Apollo Reach, which aims to build a string of secondary care hospitals in rural areas across India.

“We must advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. Businesses which enable women to achieve leadership roles and promote gender equality at all levels will be recognized as proactive forward-thinking businesses. This recognition will also translate into greater business momentum, market share and value.”

Supriya Paul is the Director and Co-founder of Josh Talks, a social tech startup headquartered in Gurugram, Haryana. At the young age of 20, Paul co-founded Josh Talks with Shobhit Banga. Owing to the success of her startup, she was recently listed as one of the top “20 Self Made Women” by Forbes India. She was also recognized as one of the top entrepreneurs in India and introduced on The Economic Times. In 2018, she was featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list for defining and driving the ever-shifting world of news and contents. She also serves as an advisor and mentor for the Women Economic Forum, Atal Innovation Mission and the Founder Institute.

“It is essential for business to take a leading role in changing corporate culture and enable women to break the glass ceiling. Women offer an enormous potential to positively impact business and society."

Amitabh Kant is currently the CEO of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and a member of the Indian Administrative Service, IAS (Kerala Cadre: 1980 batch). He is the author of “Branding India: An Incredible Story” and “Incredible India 2.0” and has edited “The Path Ahead- Transformative Ideas for India”. Kant has been a key driver of the Make in India, Startup India, Incredible India and God’s Own Country initiatives. Kant has also been the Chairman & CEO of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) developed by the Government of India as a global manufacturing and investment destination. In his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Government of India, he vigorously drove the Ease of Doing Business initiative and ranking of States on outcome parameters.

“The private sector is a crucial partner for building an inclusive and equitable workforce and for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. How businesses act to ensure, that both men and women can contribute and benefit equally in the workplace, will go a long way in helping further the sustainable development agendas.”  

Ingrid Srinath has been a passionate advocate for human rights, social justice and civil society for over 20 years. She is presently the founder Director of the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University. CSIP, founded in 2016, is South Asia’s first academic centre focused on philanthropy and social impact. It has produced path-breaking research on philanthropic flows, the impact of changes in foreign funding, the non-profit ecosystem and regulatory reform, besides providing capacity-building programmes for non-profit leaders and young people starting their careers in the sector. It is housed at Ashoka University, a pioneer in its focus on providing a liberal education at par with the best in the world. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, Ingrid transitioned from her 12-year career in advertising to the non-profit sector in 1998 with CRY (Child Rights and You), where she was CEO from 2004-08.

“By making gender equality a core part of their everyday practice, the private sector can drive the way forward. Companies stand to benefit too - since achieving gender equality can add $12 trillion to the global economy, and gender diversity at all levels of the organization can increase profitability, productivity, and organizational effectiveness.”

Mihir Swarup Sharma is Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and Head of its Economy and Growth Programme. He was trained as an economist and political scientist in Delhi and in Boston. His book, Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy, which was published in 2015, won the Tata LitLive best Business Book of the Year and was longlisted for the Financial Times–McKinsey Business Book of the Year. In 2019 Mihir co-edited What the Economy Needs Now with Abhijit Banerjee, Gita Gopinath and Raghuram Rajan. He is also the India columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, on the Editorial Board of the Business Standard newspaper in New Delhi, and an Aspen Fellow.

“Businesses play a critical role in encouraging women’s participation in work and ensuring inclusive practices. This will benefit the economy too, since achieving gender equality in India could generate around USD 700 billion of added GDP by 2025.”


Meng Liu is the Head for Asia Pacific with the United Nations Global Compact, overseeing over 15 country networks and operations across the region. Before joining the United Nations in 2007, Ms. Liu has worked for the non-profit and public sector across the US and in Asia. She was a fellow on Asian public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and is a book author of “Responsibility Changes the World-UN Global Compact Leading Business Revolution Worldwide”. Liu speaks regularly at global and regional conferences on the topics of corporate social responsibility, inclusive business, climate change, cross-sector partnership and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She has been honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2015. Since 2020, she serves as a member on Global Future Council on Frontier Risks.

Xiaonan Liu is a professor at the Institute for Human Rights and the Director of the Constitutionalism Research Institute at China University of Political Science and Law where she teaches anti-discrimination law, gender and human rights. She holds an LLM from Yale Law School, as well as an LLB, Master of Law and PhD from Jilin University School of Law in China.

“It is the social responsibility and legal obligation of enterprises to promote gender equality and eliminate gender discrimination in the workplace. Creating a gender equal and family friendly workplace is conducive to promoting sustainable and healthy economic and social development, social equity and justice, and protecting women's human rights.”

Egils Dzelme is a diplomat of Latvian nationality. He was appointed as a political officer for the Delegation of the European Union to China in 2018. As part of his duties, he chairs the EU 27 Gender equality working group meetings, facilitating coordination between EU Member States on gender equality-related topics in China. Prior to his appointment in Beijing, he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia for several years, notably as Head of Asia and Oceania division.

Li Qingyi holds a M.Sc. degree in Industrial Relations and PHD in Economics. She joined ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia in 2013 as a Programme Officer. Her main responsibility is to develop, implement and monitor the technical and development cooperation in the area of occupational safety and health, labour inspection, social protection and capacity-building for employers. Before joining the ILO, she worked for the ALL-China Federation of Trade Unions for 17 years, responsible for cooperation with trade union organizations in Africa and Europe.

“Persistent disparities remain between women and men at the workplace, including in labour market participation, pay for work of equal value, representation of women in high-paying occupations and managerial positions. Let’s act together to close the gender gaps in the workplace!”


Anne Valko Celestino is a Gender and Social Development Specialist for the Private Sector Operations Department at the Asian Development Bank, where she is responsible for integrating gender analysis and measures into private sector projects, programs, and technical assistance grants. Part of the transaction support team, she also assists investment teams and clients to ensure high quality gender mainstreaming in the definition and implementation of gender action plans. Anne worked in the Swiss private sector before dedicating her career to development issues and particularly involved in women’s empowerment and community development programs. She has been working in development finance since 2013 when she joined the African Development Bank. During her seven-year tenure in the African institution, she complemented her social development skills with investment finance and private sector development. Anne has experience across sectorial operations as well as stakeholder and strategy engagement. She is also qualified in project management and notably managed several institutional initiatives including a major multi-partner flagship program promoting women in business, access to finance and gender equality in economic development.

“The WEPS are really a great tool of reference because they are meant for everyone. Any business can identify with one or several of the principles and can find inspiration on how to achieve better gender equality in the area they see best fit with their strengths in making a difference.”

Erna Witoelar is the former UN Special Ambassador for MDGs in Asia Pacific (2003-2007), Indonesian Minister of Human Settlements and Regional Development (1999-2001), and President of the Consumers International (1991-1997). She is also Founder and Leader of several CSOs, among others the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI), Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI), Partnership for Governance Reform in Indonesia, Philanthropy Indonesia, Asia Pacific Water Forum, the Indonesia Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI) and UNW Consultant for WEPs’ Scoping. Erna was the International Jury of Goldman Environmental Prize Award since 2011. In 2018 she co-founded a startup company "Partnership-ID" that facilitates sustainable partnerships & collaborative engagements. A Chemical Engineer from ITB in 1974, she completed her post-graduate study in Human Ecology from UI in 1993, and was awarded as Doctor of the University at Griffith University, Brisbane in 2019. 

“The private sector is already recognized as a key partner to the achievement of the universally adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It plays an important role as an engine of economic growth and job creation in developing countries. It provides goods and services, generates tax revenues to finance essential social and economic infrastructure, and develops new and innovative solutions that help tackle development challenges, and it is a central actor in addressing climate change."


Josephine Satyono is the Executive Director of Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN), a local network of United Nations Global Compact in Indonesia. She has more than 30 years of professional experience in multi-national and national corporations and international organizations. She is a former Global Mobility Tax Process Leader for Asia Pacific of General Electric (GE), who also once led GE Volunteers as Director for South Asia. Josephine led collaborative project initiatives with local and international profit and non-for-profit organizations, government institutions, and volunteering and community service agencies. During her career with GE, she was awarded the “Jack Welch Elfun of the Year” and the “Philippe Award”, a global award for excellence in volunteer and community activities. 

“Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards is a recognition of business effort in taking real life examples to empower women. I’m honored to serve as the UN Women’s WEPs Awards judging panel for this prestigious effort. Studies have proven that when business creates an enabling environment for women, business can unlock women’s big potential that business can benefit from.”

Maya Juwita is Executive Director of Indonesia Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (IBCWE), which is a coalition of companies that are committed to promote women’s economic empowerment and gender equality at workplace. Prior to the current position, she was Head of HR at WWF Indonesia and HR Manager for Southeast Asia Regional Program at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) which harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. She has also served as a HR & GA Manger at the Partnership for Governance Reform (Kemitraan) which was a multi-stake holders’ organization with mission to establish fair, democratic and sustainable governance in Indonesia. She has a master’s degree in business law from the University of Gadjah Mada.

“The world is populated by men and women almost equally. By fostering gender-sensitive culture and practices, companies are actually ensuring their future sustainability by getting business insights from both genders which lead to maximum performance and growth.”

Sagita Adesywi is a Business and Human Rights National Specialist for the EU-funded Business and Human Rights Asia (B+HR Asia) program at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Indonesia. She works with government partners, businesses and business associations, and civil society organizations to promote the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights. Before she worked for UNDP, Sagita worked on fostering engagement with the business sector to support government’s efforts in reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS in the workplace and wider communities with UNAIDS. She has also worked with UNICEF on promoting responsible business to advance the fulfilment of children’s and women’s right in business operations and supply chains, particularly within the palm oil sector.  

“To advance economic diversity, it’s a no brainer to include women in the workforce. Accepting, equipping and allowing women to participate in the economy without limitations and restrictions, improve the quantity and quality of human resources in the development advances the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.”


Marianne Olesen is the Senior Coordination Officer and Team Leader in the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Manila since July 2020. Prior to her current post, Marianne worked for UN Women in different capacities focusing on women’s economic empowerment, leadership and entrepreneurship, and as well as on the Sustainable Development Goals as a tool for gender equality. She has longstanding, multi-faceted experience from several UN and other organizations at national, regional and HQ level, with many years of experience in Asia.

“We are all responsible for the SDGs – business too. And we count on companies to do their part in the way they promote sustainability and equality throughout their value chains – from the way they procure and hire to the way they produce and market. The companies that manage to do this well, are the companies whose goods we will buy and the companies that we want to work for.”

Nathalie Africa-Verceles, or Natsy, is the Director of the University of the Philippines Center for Women's and Gender Studies. She is also an Associate Professor of the Department of Women and Development Studies, College of Social Work and Community Development, University of the Philippines, Diliman. Natsy has a BSc (Honours) Economics degree from the University of London, a BA in Philosophy, an MA in Women and Development Studies, and a Doctorate in Social Development, all from the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

“The engagement of the private sector through gender-transformative workplace practices is vital in the achievement of our loftiest aspirations of genuine gender equality and women’s empowerment. Over and above the positive impacts on businesses, gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and in the enhancement of women’s autonomy and control over their lives, decision-making power, and ability to effect meaningful change.”

Atty. Jesus G. Torres works as a public servant in the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as Attorney V and concurrent Chief of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Center (ESCR Center). As the pioneer head of the ESCR Center, a specialist and oversight office established in January 2016, he oversees the development and implementation of human rights and legal support programs for vulnerable and marginalized sectors, such as the persons with disabilities, farmers, fisherfolks, workers, and indigenous peoples. Atty. Torres started working with CHR on September 14, 2011 and was assigned with the Legal and Investigation Office, wherein his work primarily involved fact-finding, rendition of appropriate legal measures to CHR clientele, and where his exposure included the emerging themes such as on the environment, business and human rights. He specializes in the fields of economics, business, civil, criminal, and human rights law.

"The 2020 WEPS Awards provide an avenue for all stakeholders (businesses, governments, and rights-holders alike) to showcase and identify the concrete practices in gender-sensitive business culture. A gender-sensitive business is sustainable as it gives premium to an inclusive business and work environment, whereby diverse talents, individually or collectively as enterprises, are being recognized as innate to any human person and should be nurtured for the common good, regardless of stereotypes. Congratulations to the winners and the organizers!"

Cynthia, Executive Director of GCN Philippines, is a development worker with more than nineteen years of experience in public sector and social infrastructure projects, specializing in communication for development (C4D), programme management, joint programming, policy research, and social safeguards. She has worked in both cross-cultural and grassroots environments, immersed in programme and advocacy work on child rights, adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights, social protection and community-driven development, sustainable urban development, citizen monitoring and governance accountability, and climate change. At the turn of the post-MDGs era and the transition to the Global Goals, Cynthia worked with multiple sectors through the UN MDG Achievement Fund as the National Joint Programmes Coordinator, the UN Millennium Campaign as Campaign Head in the Philippines, and the UN SDG Action Campaign in Asia and the Pacific as Coordinator.

“Taking corporate actions to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment underpins a strong business case for sustainability. Women have long proven their leadership in all aspects of society – including workplace. Empowering women is the best human capital investment that can ever be made.”

Maria Victoria C. Españo, or Marivic, is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A Grant Thornton). Before joining P&A Grant Thornton, she worked with the Department of Finance, Senate of the Philippines, and Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific. Marivic is a Philippine Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Management Account (Australia), Associate Certified Coach of the International Coach Federation and a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors. She is recognized by the Philippine Professional Regulation Commission as the 2020 Outstanding Professional in the Field of Accountancy. In addition, Marivic serves as a Board Governor of Management Association of the Philippines for 2020–2021, Trustee of Shareholders’ Association of the Philippines for 2019-2022, and a Fellow and Trustee of the Institute of Corporate Directors. Previously, Marivic was the 2018 President of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines. From 2018–2019, she also served as Chairperson of the Metro Manila Regional Council of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants. From 2015 to 2019, Marivic was a member of the Board of Governors of Grant Thornton International Ltd.

"Given that women constitute a huge chunk of our workforce, it totally makes sense to help them achieve their fullest potential in order for our country to prosper. We need business leaders to champion the case of gender diversity and create an inclusive culture. Taking strategic actions that will be measured against clear set of goals is important to achieve real change."


Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh is the Vice President of the Central Council of Vietnam Business Associations and Founder and the 1st Chairwoman of ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN) (2014-2016). She also serves as the Vietnam Chair of the Global Summit of Women. With more than 37 years of working experiences, she has edited and co-edited 8 books, 18 subjects and researches and spoke at hundreds of domestic and international forums and conferences. She has extensive experience in many fields such as: policy advocacy and consultation; trade and investment promotion; supporting start-ups and entrepreneurship, promoting SMEs and women-led enterprises; facilitating harmonious labor relationship; gender equality and women’s empowerment in enterprises.

“Expansion of employment opportunities, dedication and promotion for women and men in community, at the workplace and in supply chain will exploit potentiality, strength of all. This is the perfect supplement and foundation to achieve the prosperity and sustainability of each country and company.”

Associate Professor Dr. Le Quang Canh is currently the Vice Director of Institute for Sustainable Development and a lecturer for Faculty of Development Economics, National Economics University. He has more than 20 years of experiences in education for both undergraduate and graduate levels. His teaching includes Research methods, Economic Forecasting, The Contemporary Theories in Economic Research, and Microeconometrics. He also has extensive experiences in working with international organizations (UNDP, WB, ActionAid Vietnam, Oxfam Anh, JICA, DFID, and KOICA), state agencies (National Foundation for Science and Technology Development, Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Planning and Investment), and provincial authorities. His research interests are in applied economics, development studies, economic forecasting, and state governance.

"Women are a secret weapon for the happiness of the family, the company's success, and the sustainable development of the economy. Gender equality in the working place and women's economic empowerment fosters such firepower."

Ha Thi Minh Duc, PhD in economic management, is the Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Viet Nam. She has been holding her post for 4 years after working for several years in some international development agencies including the International Labour Organization in Viet Nam. Duc is in charge of the overall ASEAN cooperation in her Department, including the issues of labour and migrant workers, social welfare and development, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons. She has been acting as the Leader of Viet Nam Delegation to the ASEAN Senior Official Meetings on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) and has also been nominated as the representative of child rights of Viet Nam to the ASEAN Commission on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) since 2016.

“Any enterprise, big or small, in any sector, should be the enabling environment for promotion of equality between men and women. Gender equality is the investment for the future and profits of the enterprises, contributing to building an equal society for everyone.” 

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao is Deputy Director and Vice Chairwoman of Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC) under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). Thao has nearly 15 years of working for VCCI in different departments: Member of APEC CEO Summit 2006 Secretariat Committee to organize APEC CEO Summit in November 2006 in Hanoi; Expert and Coordinator of Event and Communication Team in Project Department of The Institute of Information Technology for business, VCCI (2006 – 2009); Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC), VCCI (2009 – present). Thao has experiences in different fields such as supporting and protecting legal rights of women entrepreneurs, trade and investment promotion, policy advocacy and consultation, supporting start-ups, capacity building for women-led enterprises, and supporting to promote harmonious labor relationship.