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10 Inspirational Southeast Asian Women

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Art & Culture

10 Inspirational Southeast Asian Women

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we are proud to celebrate the achievements made by these ambitious, bold and just all-around inspiring ladies. Read on to learn about Southeast Asia’s remarkable women.

Image source: yesinspire.com


Sharifah Czarena Surainy Syed Hashim – Pilot

Captain Sharifah Czarena is the first female captain not just in her country, but in all of Southeast Asia! She made headlines when she captained the first all-female flight crew for Royal Brunei Airlines in 2016. On top of that, Capt. Sharifah Czarena and her two female first officers landed the plane in Saudi Arabia – a country where ladies were not even allowed to drive at the time. Talk about girl power!

Image source: scmp.com


Loung Ung – Activist

A bestselling author and activist, Loung Ung uses her platform to inform the world about her experience during the Khmer Rouge regime through her memoirs. She is also the co-screenplay writer of a Netflix original movie directed by Angelina Jolie entitled “First They Killed My Father” which is now streaming in 190 countries.


Rinrin Marinka – Chef

Rinrin Marinka is a celebrity chef known for being a judge on MasterChef Indonesia and Junior MasterChef Indonesia. Besides being a chef, she is also a restaurateur of Mars Kitchen, where you can treat yourself to healthy and delicious food! You can catch her in GOASEAN’s original series, Food Maps.

Image source: @alexandrabounxouei (Instagram)


Alexandra Bounxouei – Musician & Actor

This multi-talented singer, songwriter, actress, model and entrepreneur is half-Lao and half-Bulgarian. A hit sensation in Thailand, Japan, Europe, and many more countries, she is one of the first singers in Laos to go international, representing her country on the world stage at numerous international events.


Yuna Zarai – Musician

No stranger to the music industry and one of the most popular artists to arise from Southeast Asia, Yuna has had incredible success with her music, including peaking at the Billboard charts with her single ‘Crush’ featuring Usher. Besides her passion for music, Yuna is also an avid fashion lover and owns a clothing store called ‘November Culture’. Displaying a distinct image among rising female superstars, Yuna stays true to herself by dressing modestly. Definitely role-model worthy.

Image source: irrawaddy.com


 Chit Thu Wai – Actor & Singer

A Myanmar Academy Award winning film actress, singer, and medical doctor, Chit Thu Wai is certainly one to look up to. She has represented Burma at the UN General Assembly as a Hand-washing Ambassador, promoting disease prevention through a hygiene awareness programme.

Image source: thepurposefulcreative.com


Reese Fernandez-Ruiz – Entrepreneur

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz is the co-founder of Rags2Riches, a fashion and design house empowering community artisans across the Philippines to create eco-ethical fashion. With Rags2Riches, this philanthropic lady has created opportunities for women from poor communities, while also proving style and sustainability can coexist. Now this is one inspirational woman!

Image source: straitstimes.com


Priscilla Shunmugam – Designer

Founder and designer of the contemporary womenswear label Ong Shunmugam, Priscilla Shunmugam puts Singapore on the fashion map. She is one of the local fashion industry’s biggest success thanks to her modern take on Asian dress. Committed towards her business of Asian prints as well as modern cheongsams, Priscilla certainly makes a great role model for all the young girls and aspiring fashion designers out there.

Image source: intrepidtravel.com


 Sangdeaun Lek Chailert – Elephant Conservationist

Sangdeaun Lek Chailert was determined to fight for better treatment of the Asian elephants after discovering the abuse and neglect that they go through, dedicating her life to the conservation of this endangered species. She created the Elephant Nature Park which provides a sanctuary and rescue centre for the gentle giants, and she has rescued 200 distressed elephants in Thailand as well as neighbouring countries since 1996. You go girl!

Image source: hrinasia.com


Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao – Entrepreneur

Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao is the founder of VietJet Air, Vietnam’s budget airline, and is currently Southeast Asia’s only woman billionaire! This self-made billionaire made her first million at only 21 years old trading fax machines and latex rubber. Ms. Nguyen is set to have a net worth of $3.4 billion according to Forbes. What a boss lady!



Written by Liyana Hassanel

Liyana Hassanel is a content intern at GOASEAN. An aspiring writer, filmmaker and performer, she is a lover of all things media, art and entertainment. She also likes to write for fun here 

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