Here is a report and short slideshow from the Pan Asian Women’s Association (PAWA) event for International Women’s Day 2017 at the University Women’s Club (UWC) by “creative actionista” Yang-May Ooi who joined a panel discussion there on Strengthening Women’s Voices.

The panel that closed the cross cultural conference hosted by PAWA and UWC offered different takes on the theme of Strengthening Women’s Voices. I was delighted to join a range of talented panellists chaired by journalist Rita Payne, each one speaking from across cultures about their own unique experience.


Created with flickr slideshow.



Journalist Heidi Kingstone kicked things off with an account of her travels in Afghanistan where she spoke to a range of strong and outspoken Afghani women telling their stories and speaking about their experiences.

Playwright In-Sook Chappell then shared how she developed her voice as a playwright, portraying the stories of those who feel passionately but are inarticulate in the face of their emotions and circumstances.

Novelist Lesley Downer told of her time in Japan, getting to know quietly powerful Japanese women and telling us about the hidden soft power of geishas.

I rounded off the night with a look at the tools for women to get our stories, messages and strong presence out there – from traditional publishing through stage performance to blogging, podcasting and videomaking. It was very rewarding afterwards to speak to some of the audience members who told me that they had always felt a little nervous around social media technology, especially filmmaking but after my talk, they felt inspired to try their hand and making a short video for Youtube!

PAWA is a terrific non-profit that helps educate young girls across Asia. I am honoured to be a member. They have regular events ranging from serious, topical conferences and discussions like this International Women’s Day event to light-hearted social events such as their annual fundraising walk in a London park. The members are warm, fun and friendly and the work they do is very much worthwhile – what more could you ask for! Do consider joining if you have a connection or interest in Asia and Asian matters. Go to to find out more.




Author: Yang-May Ooi

Yang-May Ooi is a writer & podcaster. Her creative work includes The Flame Tree and Mindgame (novels), Bound Feet Blues (theatre & family memoir), The Anxiety Advantage and Creative Conversations (podcasts). ¦

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