Rayan El Amine
Singling out notable women from the eleven countries in Southeast Asia is a difficult task, not because there are so little to choose from, but quite the contrary.
In 2001, she became Indonesia’s first female President, one of the few female, Muslim heads of state. For the next decade, Megawati brought a new era of stability and prosperity to Indonesia, ending ridiculous stereotypes surrounding the idea of women in power.
Yet politics should not be the only path towards influence and success; Mo Sochua, one of Cambodia’s great activists, who remained exiled from her nation for close to 18 years, returned despite the hatred towards her and her family, and in spite of the orphan her nation had turned her into, she persisted. She formed Cambodia’s first organization for women’s rights, Khemara, and continued to advocate for human rights and against human trafficking for the next thirty years.
These two women, while their stories may differ, share a similar struggle. Succeeding as a woman in power in Southeast Asia requires determination and strength, but now that past individuals have done it, it is not a shock to look around this conference and notice that same change taking place.