International Women’s Day: 8 influential Hong Kong women breaking the bias

Managing teams at work, orchestrating change, leading the way, breaking the glass ceiling in a very male-dominated world, making key decisions, inspiring young women along the way – empowered women, empower women – truly, no better time to reflect on those words than today, on International Women’s Day. With the theme #breakthebias, Gafencu shines the spotlight on eight influential, powerful women who are truly working to make their fields more open, inclusive and accessible to all…

Yolanda Choy

Co-founder of EcoDrive

Celebrating 8 of Hong Kong's game-changing females for International Women's Day yolanda choy ecodrive sustainable education

On a crusade to fight the burgeoning rise of single-use plastics, Yolanda Choy has made it her mission to to educate the public on the environmental damage of single-use plastics and hopes to create a greener, more  sustainable future. With roots in fashion and Marketing and PR, she connects with corporates to provide solutions for sustainability and encourages lifestyle change on both the individual and community level through campaigns that promote sustainability initiatives. She also co-founded Central Weddings, a luxury bridal salon.

“Education plays a big part, because, by and large, many people might be throwing away things that contaminate the entire collection bin unrecyclable and sent to a landfill instead…We educate people different ideas on how they can make a difference to create a better, more sustainable world for future generations.”

Yenn Wong

Founder and CEO of JIA Group

Hong Kong game-changing females International Women's Day gafencu people F&B dining restauranteur yenn wong JIA Group

For the thousands of foodies and discerning diners in Hong Kong, there is high chance you have dined in one of Yenn Wong’s  many establishments that embrace an array of culinary concepts. As the owner of multinational F&B company, JIA Group, the continuously growing vibrant and diverse gourmet flavours have Yenn Wong to thank for. Especially, during strict social distancing rules, JIA Group has spearheaded bringing fine-dining and Michelin-star menus to the comfort of patrons’ homes through its digital platform JIA Everywhere. 

“We pride ourselves on providing a range of gourmet experience, ranging from casual to fine dining, all of which place equal emphasis on the quality of the cuisine and the dining environment. Our outlets not only aim to satiate a customer’s appetite, but also deliver a visual feast. It’s a formula that resonates with our guests and one I take a great deal of pride in.”

Mei Mei Song

Brand and Product Transformation Director of Plaza Premium Group

It’s no secret that aviation has been the hardest hit global industry in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, but Mei Mei Song exemplifies what rising from adversity looks like. She took the tumultuous Covid period to revamp, regroup and reinvent the brand, making travel better with initiatives such as opening their first pay-per-use lounge in Africa, introducing pet-friendly services, valet, baggage-wrapping, buggy and a plethora of other convenient amenities at key international airports, and tapping into new markets such as train lounges in China and launching their first zero carbon footprint lounge in Helsinki. Song is creating a new benchmark of sustainable, convenient, premium hospitality in the travel sector – her team aims to increase their current 230-plus global lounges to be at 550 by the year 2025.

“Founding a successful business is not enough. How you conduct that business and the strength of your vision and values are key.”

Betty Ng

Architect and Founder of Collective Studio

Hong Kong game-changing females International Women's Day gafencu people betty ng collective architecture

With a degree from Cornell University and a masters from Harvard University and stints in prestigious global design firms like Herzog & de Meuron and OMA, Betty Ng is Hong Kong’s leading architect and has already amassed an impressive body of work and founded her own Hong Kong-based firm, COLLECTIVE Studio, all before her late 30s.  A diverse amount of local and international work  can be credited to her name including the “Things, Spaces, Interactions” exhibition space in the new M+ museum, all four Kapok lifestyle stores, and is currently working New World Development on their twin tower and commercial podium project in Cheung Sha Wan. Having only started COLLECTIVE Studio six years ago, they have already been awarded a MIPIM Asia ‘Best Futura Project’ Award in 2021, for the King Lam Street commercial development. Betty strongly believes in giving back and inspiring the next generation of architects through her work, she teaches at the prestigious Chinese University of Hong Kong, and hopes that more young women will follow in the future. 

“Personally, I don’t think too much about whether I am female or male – I am an architect. I focus on the designs I create. In return, fortunately, I am surrounded by people who see me for what I bring to the table rather than my gender. I hope to inspire the younger generation and remind them that in 2022, disrupting the state of play is certainly possible.”

Also Read: 2021 Power List 300: Hong Kong’s most powerful and influential minds of our time

Helen Ma

Socialite, Entrepreneur, Mom

Celebrating 8 of Hong Kong's game-changing females for International Women's Day Helen Ma OnePlusOne Fashion

For a girl discouraged by her father to work, Helen Ma blazed a trail in fashion, beauty and catering. After a slew of successful businesses which range from launching a magazine, Helen Ma Loves Muse, running a successful F&B venture and introducing the French-influenced Japanese luxury skincare brand Evidens de Beauté to Hong Kong – the style guru and beauty goddess has done it all. But no venture comes close to the gratification of being a mum to 9-year-old, Shymie. Currently running her lifestyle e-commerce platform, One Plus One, Ma is eyeing yet another successful, quality lifestyle venture with the idea of creating healthy food, sustainable trends, home styling and engaging experiences. Her advice to the modern-day career woman juggling family and home:

Balancing a thriving career and a blissful family will take too much of your strength and resilience. Try to live guilt-free [and] happy.”

Ariel Yang

Executive Director of DS Regenerative Medicine

Hong Kong game-changing females International Women's Day gafencu people Arial Yang DS Regenerative Medicine beauty

Having started her career teaching from Zhejiang University’s Faculty of Science, followed by a stint in its School of Management, before pursuing other passions such as designing Chinese jewellery, and following her lifelong passion for beauty and skincare by leading the DS Regenerative Medicine business in the field of regenerative beauty and medicine. Recently, she has gone back to her teaching roots and started a new youth education venture to raise awareness of artificial intelligence for young minds. Her company, DS Regenerative Medicine was listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2017.

“Our company currently helps more than 200 primary and secondary schools across Hong Kong, training them to develop requisite skills within this sphere. We also host activities to increase awareness and encourage development, be it annual competitions or even international conferences. I believe it’s something that fills an unmet need, and that’s very meaningful to me.”

Veronica Lam

Executive Director of Big Honor Entertainment

Hong Kong game-changing females International Women's Day gafencu people Veronica Lam Big Bonour Entertainment Harbit Music VS Visual photography music

Daughter of Lam Kin-ming and successor of Big Honor Entertainment, Veronica Lam is an innovative promoter of musical talent, even co-founding  Hardbit Music with her brother, to put a new light on alternative music and DJ events in the city. Despite the hard hit that the entertainment industry took throughout the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, her response has been confident and resilient. She launched B.Live app to bring the experience of live music and theatrical shows to audiences in the safety of their won home; allowing people to enjoy music while interacting in chat rooms. All the while pursuing her own passion in photography work through VL Visuals. 

“At a time when in-person musical events are all but non-existent, we have to keep creating new spaces for musical acts within the entertainment industry. B.Live is a streaming app that offers viewers multiple angles during broadcasted events, so they can decide how they take in their favourite acts.”

Christal Leung

Celebrating 8 of Hong Kong's game-changing females for International Women's Day Christal Leung Skin Need Beauty Skincare

Skin Formulator, Founder of Skin Need

A major in biochemistry at the University of California, Christal Leung had a natural inclination towards the science of beauty. Growing up, her mum ran a beauty centre where she spent her weekends. Seeing her mum’s approach to skincare – customising products with fresh fruits and vegetables – and watching the way she brought joy and confidence to her customers, sparked a keen interest in beauty. Skin Need, her hugely successful line of skincare with an exceptionally attractive, minimalist packaging was launched with the same childhood passion of simplifying beauty, customising products according to the need of the skin and bringing joy from within. A firm believer in sustainability, clean products and bespoke products, Christal credits her accomplishments to a loving family, a brilliant team and the loyal customers.

“Our philosophy evolved from the experiences and skincare problems that my mother encountered over her career, and how she felt beauty products should actually be addressing those needs.”

Also Read: In Conversation with Ryan Cheung, CEO & Founder, PressLogic: Asia’s new-media wizard

Woman to Watch: Ariel Yang on creative arts to teaching to regenerative medicine…

Not only does Ariel Yang serve as Executive Director for skin specialist company DS Regenerative Medicine, the accomplished multitasker is also prepping the next generation in the ways of artificial intelligence…

Yang at Heart From creative arts to teaching to regenerative medicine, Ariel Yang is comfortable in her own skin gafencu people interview March 2022
Earrings, necklace, bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels; Jacket and pants by Alexander McQueen; Top by La Perla; Heels by Gianvito Rossi

What were your early years like?
I could probably sum up my childhood self in four words: well-behaved, sensible, affectionate and filial. I was born in a really small town outside Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province, and I lived with a large extended family aside from my parents, so it was a really lovely, warm and supportive environment to grow up in.

Did you have any particular career aspirations as a child?
To be honest, I was always creative as a child, but my parents weren’t keen on me going down that track. Understandably, they wanted me to pursue something more traditionally acceptable in their eyes. One of my uncle was a postdoctoral fellow at Peking University, and my father – who was a teacher – was adamant that I followed in their footsteps, so back of my mind I always knew that a career in education was a significant possibility.

Is that the path you took initially?
Well, after graduating from high school, I enrolled at the Qianjiang College of Hangzhou Normal University to study tourism management. My first job right after receiving my degree was to teach at Zhejiang University’s Faculty of Science, followed by a stint in its School of Management. I guess you could say I ended up fulfilling my father’s wishes.

Yang at Heart From creative arts to teaching to regenerative medicine, Ariel Yang is comfortable in her own skin gafencu people interview March 2022 (3)
Earrings, jacket, belt, long skirt and boots by Dior; Rings by Van Cleef & Arpels

What spurred your move from Shanghai to Hong Kong in 2017?
After I left my teaching job, I moved to Shanghai and pursued something a little closer to my original interests – working as a designer for a Chinese jewellery business. By that time, Hong Kong was already renowned as an international centre for the industry, so I thought moving here would be good for my career. On top of that, the city’s status as a leading financial and cultural hub was very attractive to me. I felt I could meet talented individuals and have a much more multicultural experience, so I packed my bags and left Shanghai for Hong Kong.

“I felt I could meet talented individuals [in Hong Kong] and have a much more multicultural experience”

How did you become involved in the business of skin health?
I guess my husband can take some of the credit here as he was the one who got me thinking about investing in a company. I first met him, through a student of mine, long ago during my early teaching years and we stayed in touch. We just happened to reconnect romantically around the time I came to Hong Kong – he’d moved here just before me. As he was in the business of investing, I picked up some tips and tricks of the trade from him.

So, when the opportunity arose to invest in DS Regenerative Medicine prior to its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2017, this budding interest paired with my lifelong passion for beauty and skincare meant I absolutely jumped at the chance. It was a great decision, and as a company we’ve gone from strength to strength.

What exactly does DS Regenerative Medicine specialise in?
Basically, we’re a group of skin specialists who place emphasis on regenerative medicine. Perhaps our strongest service is treating certain forms of skin cancer. In particular, we use a specialised procedure called Mohs Micrographic Surgery. With carcinomas, early detection is vital; most people don’t really pay attention to spots when they appear, but it’s critical to get any skin abnormalities checked out right away. The next step is to treat them immediately. Post-surgical care is equally important, and our dermatologists are skilled in ensuring that there’s minimal evidence afterwards that the patient has had skin cancer – especially when such blemishes occur on the face.

Aside from cancers, our medical experts and regenerative skincare doctors are adept at treating a wide-ranging array of skin conditions, be it itchy, flaky skin, alopecia or eczema. We also specialise in medical imaging, from CT scans to MRIs. Finally, there’s our in-house DS Skin & Wellness Clinic skincare line, which has been specially developed by our dermatologists and chemists to help achieve and maintain healthy skin.

Yang at Heart From creative arts to teaching to regenerative medicine, Ariel Yang is comfortable in her own skin gafencu people interview March 2022 (4)
Earrings, jacket, top, chain belt, shorts and heels by YSL
Rings by Van Cleef & Arpels

Where did the company originate?
It started as a dermatological clinic in Singapore back in 2005, and today, it’s the largest private practice skin clinic in the city, with five locations as well as an outpost in Kuala Lumpur. We decided to launch operations in Hong Kong as we wanted to take advantage of the city’s unique location as a global hub, as well as a potential springboard into China. In fact, we’re launching two new dermatological centres across the border this month – one in Shenzhen and another in Hangzhou.

One of the company’s sub-brands is QR Skin & Laser Centre. This is a regenerative medical centre focused on the skin, with branches in Central – where we are meeting today – and Kowloon Bay.

How has the ongoing pandemic affected your business?
I think I can say that two years of Covid has negatively impacted everyone in the world, and we’re no different. Obviously, we’ve been hit in terms of patient traffic, and we’ve also had to slow down our expansion. Having said that, I’m still optimistic. Not only do we have the medical know-how, but our staff are resilient at heart, so we’ll move forward one step at a time towards the day when everything improves. Hopefully, soon!

Yang at Heart From creative arts to teaching to regenerative medicine, Ariel Yang is comfortable in her own skin gafencu people interview March 2022 (2)
Earrings by Nana Jacqueline; Ring by Boucheron; Belt by Dior
Dress by Alexander McQueen; The Kelly bag by Hermès; Boots by AAR Boutique

Aside from DS, are there any other projects you’re involved with?
Absolutely. Last year, I started a new youth education venture to raise awareness about artificial intelligence. The idea sparked from my own experience as a teacher, and being involved in this new project allows me to go back to my roots in education. Our company currently helps more than 200 primary and secondary schools across Hong Kong, training them to develop requisite skills within this sphere. We also host activities to increase awareness and encourage development, be it annual competitions or even international conferences. I believe it’s something that fills an unmet need, and that’s very meaningful to me.

How do you relax when you have time?
I love hiking as I find it helps me clear my head, but my favourite self-pampering activity is having a massage – full-body ones that just knead and roll away any tension I might be feeling.
If you could go back and meet anyone from your past, who would it be and why?Honestly, I’m someone who lives firmly in the moment, so I don’t believe in looking back. I’m the person I am today because of the decisions I’ve made and people I’ve met along the way.

Yang at Heart From creative arts to teaching to regenerative medicine, Ariel Yang is comfortable in her own skin gafencu people interview March 2022 (5)
Earrings, jacket, top, chain belt, and heels by YSL; Rings by Van Cleef & Arpels

What’s the most interesting thing that has ever happened to you?
That’s a tough question. I have a bad memory, so it’s difficult to pinpoint any particular outstanding moments. I will say, though, that having my son and watching him grow up is the funniest, strangest and warmest thing to happen to me. He’s four now, and seeing the world through his eyes and discovering his likes and dislikes are, for me, the most interesting moments ever.

“I’m someone who lives firmly in the moment, so I don’t believe in looking back”

Finally, tell us a secret about yourself.
Hmm… well, I touched upon this earlier, that I’ve always had a huge creative side. I love the arts and love performing. In fact, as a child, my teacher also said I had a talent for painting. However, ultimately, my parents managed to turn my interests elsewhere, and I have no regrets. Occasionally, though, I do wonder what might have been if I’d followed that passion. I’d probably have been another person entirely! Perhaps one day I’ll translate my love of art into a new business opportunity…

Thank you.


(Interview by: Tenzing Thondup Photographer: Jack Law Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma Videographer: Kes Lei Venue: QR Skin & Laser Centre Cover look: Earrings by AAR Boutique Ring by Graff Dress by Nana Jacqueline Heels by Amina Muaddi)

March Events: Highlights for Hong Kong’s upcoming month

From The Musical world of Yu Qiwei to International Women’s Day: Womxn Fest to the annual LGBTQI+ Pride Run, there are plenty of occasions to fill the calendar. Check out these upcoming highlights of this month…

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month magical musical world of yu qiwei

The Musical world of Yu Qiwei
5 March 
Yu Qiwei, that renowned master of the gaohu (a traditional Chinese string instrument), is celebrating 46 years of his dedication to his chosen oeuvre with a musical programme extending across several of the genre’s best loved pieces. Performed in association with prominent Cantonese music stars, including Zhang Chongxue and Mak Ka Yin, and backed by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the concert is said to be a testament to his years of teaching and a tribute to the abiding appeal of Cantonese music. From HK$170. Yuen Long Theatre.

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month spartan kids

Spartan Kids Central
6 March
In a bid to inspire children with an abiding love for fitness, the people behind the Spartan Race – one of Hong Kong’s most gruelling trekathons – have launched a scaled down event for mini-me’s: the Spartan Kids Race. While certainly still challenging, this dedicated diddy obstacle course has been designed to enhance the confidence, self-esteem and sense of sportsmanship of all participants. Even better, the event provides the perfect opportunity for parents to cut their kids loose. From $420. Harbourfront Event Space, Central. 

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month TEDx

TEDx Online
6 – 21 March
Four separate online seminars, all celebrating the very best of the global TEDx Program, are available to stay-at-home-Hongkongers this month. The virtual events have been organised by four of the leading universities participating in this much-lauded digital initiative – TEDxBerkeley, TEDxHultLondon, TEDxSalford and TEDxMileHigh. Each one captures the highlights of on-stage presentations by acknowledged industry experts, all of whom are recognised as thought leaders in their chosen fields. Among the many topics set to be given the unmistakable TED treatment are art, science, business and health concerns. Free.

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month women fxst

International Women’s Day: Womxn Fest
7 – 8 March 
As part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day, Hustle & Heart, the global-centric female-oriented entrepreneur training platform, is hosting a two-day virtual conference in aid of the UN Women programme. In keeping with this year’s #choosetochallenge theme and in order to promote gender equality and inspire women across the globe, this two-part event (hosted by keynote speaker and self-made serial entrepreneur, Sophia Amoruso), will feature discussion panels showcasing inspirational, educational and entertaining women from across the world. HK$297.

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month scenes of a marriage

Scenes from a Marriage
20-28 March 
The West Kowloon Cultural District proudly introduces Scenes from a Marriage presented by Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio at Freespace this March. Acclaimed director Tang Shu-wing brings Swedish film maestro Ingmar Bergman’s classic to a Hong Kong theatre for the first time. In a star-studded production with winning actors Ben Yuen and Emily Kwan, the nearly five decade classic iteration still exudes the power to touch the hearts of its audiences. The Box, Freespace, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District. From $200.

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month hung shing festival

Hung Shing Festival 
25 March – 1 April
Why not take a cultural trip down to the south side of Hong Kong Island on the 13th day of the second lunar month as an opportunity to pay tribute to the God of the South Sea at Ap Lei Chau’s ancient Hung Shing Temple? Well within worshipping distance of the Aberdeen Fishing Village, look out for vibrant parades, entertaining Cantonese opera performances and lion dances as the high-energy celebration of the Hung Shing Festival rolls out throughout the day. Hung Shing Temple, Ap Lei Chau. Free entry.

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month arts festival

The 49th Hong Kong Arts Festival
Until 26 March
For more than 40 years, the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) has been one of the most high profile and widely feted events on the city’s cultural calendar, rightly renowned for promoting local creatives and performance artistes. Although slightly scaled down this year on account of Covid-19, organisers still promise a varied hybrid mix of live in-person happenings and online digital spectaculars. With a programme set to stretch from opera to street dance and impromptu theatre, those of a cultural bent are sure to find something to and stimulate their senses. Locations vary. From HK$150.

March Events Highlights for Hong Kong's upcoming month

Pride Run
28 March
Hong Kong’s one and only officially-endorsed LGBTQI+ event – the Pride Run – returns to the city with the promise that this year’s race will again go out of its way to promote diversity, acceptance and friendship throughout the Fragrant Harbour. Against the backdrop of an admittedly trying year, the race – available in either a challenging 9km incarnation or a more family-friendly 5km lite version – promises to be the perfect opportunity to put disputes and division behind you while hiking your way through Aberdeen Country Park. From $480.

Embracing Your Sheroe: Events in HK for international women’s day 2019

While, it needn’t be March for us to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women right here in Hong Kong and across the globe, we can’t resist but to partake in a month of all things feminine. With oodles of International Women’s Day 2019 events taking across the city we’ve narrowed down those with empowering messages, inspiring agendas and of course fun for all ladies in involved.

Sotheby’s hosts ‘Women in Art: Hong Kong’ exhibition to celebrate the city’s female artists

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is hosting a special exhibition, Women in Art: Hong Kong, in collaboration with New Hall Art Collection, displayed at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University.

At a time when there’s global attention on women empowerment, Sotheby’s hopes to create a dialogue around women’s visibility in art through exploring the rich heritage of female artists in Hong Kong.

The exhibition showcases diverse works by female artists from Hong Kong spanning the last 50 years. The works displayed cover a wide range of mediums, including traditional ink paintings by Fang Zhaoling and Irene Chou, video art by Ellen Pau and Angela Su, film posters by Ho Sin Tung and installation art by contemporary artists Ko Sin Tung and Jaffa Lam.   

The artworks displayed are steeped in Hong Kong’s culture and politics, from Ko Sin Tung’s ‘Closed 24hrs’ neon sign that comments on Hong Kong’s consumerist excesses to Jaffa Lam’s ‘Starry Day’ installation, that is made using white umbrella scraps gathered during the iconic Umbrella Movement of 2014.

According to a research conducted by Eliza Gluckman, curator of New Hall Art Collection, and independent researcher Phoebe Wong, a very high percentage of women (around 70%) graduate from art programmes in Hong Kong, but only a mere fraction of them survive in the male-dominated market. Phoebe pointed out many female artists take up teaching as a more viable option, due to a lack of proper infrastructure and funds to support emerging female artists in Hong Kong.

Through the Women in Art: Hong Kong exhibition, Sotheby’s has started a discussion which we hope will not only bring awareness to the work of leading female artists but will also inspire future generations.

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay
Photos: Sotheby’s

Celebrate International Women’s Day with bubbles and tidbits

With only 2 days to go until International Women’s Day, we’ve rounded up the best deals so that you can get toasting with your girl friends! 

International Women's Day_at_Wahtiki Island Lounge

Two-For-One cocktails at Wahtiki Island Lounge

For one night only, Wahtiki Island Lounge will celebrate all things “Girl Power”. Gather your friends and enjoy the two-for-one cocktail specials along with a complimentary Tiki Tidbit to snack on from 5:30pm till late. If cocktail offers are not enough to convince you, there is more! To mark this empowering celebration, all ladies will go home with a complimentary set lunch gift voucher from Wahtiki Island Lounge, perfect for your next girly get together. 

Wahtiki Island Lounge, 3/F, Seabird House, 22-28 Wyndham Street, Central. (852) 2793 0308,

International Women's Day_at_Beefbar

Beefbar’s Sparkling Thursdays

Beefbar has perfectly timed its new launch of Sparkling Thursdays with International Women’s Day, offering a special price for free-flow bubbles at HK$320 on 8th March only. Enjoy a revolving selection of boutique sparkling wines, starting with Bellavista Franciacorta, a chardonnay-heavy drop from Lombardia. With a live DJ and the city’s iconic towers surrounding the rooftop terrace, this couldn’t be a better way to celebrate female empowerment.

Want to make this a regular date? No problem! This sparkling offer will be available every Thursday from 5pm to 8pm, priced at HK$390 per person.

Beefbar Rooftop, 2/F, Club Lusitano, 16 Ice House St, Central


Wine Pairing Dinner at Le Bistro Winebeast

International Women’s Day is the perfect day to toast with your girl friends. But to take it one step further, why not toast with wine from powerful women wine makers? Le Bistro Winebeast brings you just that!

For the joint foodie and wine lover, opt for the Wine Pairing Dinner at Le Bistro Winebeast. Working alongside Hong Kong Madame, the teams have prepared a delicious four course menu (HK$458 + 10% service charge) to perfectly compliment the wines of Ayana Misawa from Grace Winery (Japan) and Amélie d’Hurlaborde from Mas d’Amile (France).  What’s more, they have collaborated with John Masters Organic Hong Kong & Macau to treat all diners with a surprise gift to take home.

Le Bistro Winebeast, G/F & 1/F Tai Yip Bldg, 141 Thomson Road, Wanchai. Get your tickets now!  


Beef & Liberty’s Oreo Shot

Beef & Liberty will mark the occasion by donating the total sales of all Oreo Shot desserts sold during the 8th March (lunch & dinner) from all locations, to The Women’s Foundation HK. So grab your squad and treat yourself to somethin’ sweet – the perfect ending to a momentous day.

Various locations. Visit for more information

International Women’s Day: 6 inspirational women who made their mark on Hong Kong

Today, 8 March, marks the occasion of International Women’s Day. Founded in the early 1900s, the event has grown over the years, now serving as a way to recognise the struggle for women’s rights around the world.

Hong Kong has had no shortage of trailblazing women, all of whom made valuable and groundbreaking contributions to their respective fields, from education to sports to government. Here are just a few of the exceptional women to make their mark on Hong Kong’s history over the years:

Irene Cheng, first female university graduate in Hong Kong

A member of the affluent Ho Tung family, Irene could have led a comfortable, carefree life, but instead she set out to achieve more. In 1926, she became Hong Kong’s first female university graduate, receiving an English degree from Hong Kong University. After earning a doctorate in London, she moved to Guangzhou to teach at Lingnan University and became a member of the Ministry of Education.

In 1948 she returned to Hong Kong and became the city’s first senior education officer. Her motivation was partly inspired by her mother, Lady Clara Ho Tung, who told her, “Gather all the learning you can from your teachers, study to serve humanity and hand over your knowledge to others.”

Hazel Ying Lee, first Chinese-American female pilot in US military

Although she was born in Portland, Oregon, the Chinese-American pilot became a hero in both China and the US for helping to protect both countries during World War II.

In 1933, Hazel travelled to China to volunteer for the Chinese Air Force, but was turned away because she was a woman. Instead, she stayed in Canton and flew for a private airline until 1937, when Japan invaded China. She survived the bombing attacks and escaped to Hong Kong, where she continued to help the war effort by visiting a refugee camp for women with babies. She then returned to the US and ultimately became the first Chinese-American woman to fly for the US military, and was tasked with ferrying aircrafts from manufacturers to North America airfields.

Tragically, she died in a crash in 1944. Her sister, Frances Tong, said of Hazel: “It so happened that Hazel got her pilot’s license right after the passing of our father. If dad had still been there, I don’t think she would have been able to get it. But she knew that’s what she wanted to do. She didn’t care if it was ladylike or not.”

Emily Lau Wai-hing, first elected legislator in Hong Kong

Also dubbed an “Iron Lady,” in 1991 Emily Lau Wai-hing became the first woman to be elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. She also served as chairperson of the pro-democracy Democratic Party.

Previously working as a journalist, she famously posed a controversial question to Margaret Thatcher in 1984 about the Sino-British Joint Declaration to “deliver over 5 million people into the hands of a communist dictatorship.” She has been an unwavering advocate of a free press and human rights, often flying to Geneva to attend United Nations hearings on human rights issues.

When she left Legco last year, she vowed to continue serving civil society: “My bosses are the Hong Kong people,” she said. “I have no conflict of interests or conflict of roles. I devoted all my time to serving the Hong Kong people.”

Perveen Crawford, Hong Kong’s first female pilot

Perveen became Hong Kong’s first female pilot in 1995, and she is now on track to become the city’s first astronaut. After introducing herself to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson at a party, she was offered a once-in-a-lifetime trip to outer space as part of Virgin Galactic’s push to create a space tourism industry. Originally scheduled for 2008, the trip was delayed after some setbacks, but 100 people have already signed on including the likes of John Travolta, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Perveen was quoted as saying, “My husband and kids don’t think it is completely safe. But I told them it’s more dangerous to cross the road in Hong Kong. Besides, I’m not afraid of death. I would rather die and float gracefully in space than be buried on Earth.”

Lee Lai-shan, Hong Kong’s first Olympics gold medalist

Professional windsurfer Lee Lai-shan was not only the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Hong Kong, but she also remains the only person in the city’s history – male or female – to clinch the top athletic award. Affectionately known as “San San,” the athlete, now 46, won gold at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta while representing the then British colony. After winning, she proudly announced to media: “Hong Kong athletes are not rubbish!” And right she was.

Margaret Leung Ko May-yee, first female CEO of a Hong Kong bank

Hong Kong-born Margaret Leung Ko May-yee became the first female CEO of a Hong Kong-listed bank when she took the reigns as Hang Seng Bank’s head honcho in 2009.

After graduating from Hong Kong University in 1975, she started working at Bank of America, followed by various positions at HSBC in retail, commercial and investment banking. In 1985, she decided to relocate to Melbourne for a position with HSBC – something she says changed the trajectory of her career path.

“I was told it would not be right for a woman to leave her family in Hong Kong,” she said. “If I hadn’t gone to Australia, I would likely have stayed on in my job, comfortable until retirement and becoming part of the bank’s furniture.”

When she returned to Hong Kong, she made sure that didn’t happen.

Text: Emily Petsko