JUNE 1, 2012 - Asian Women as The Way Forward - at The World Economic Forum East Asia Summit

At the Summit's Opening plenary, I posed the question to a panel (all men) of ministers of trade and commerce across Asia, inviting them to share their strategy for investing in and harnessing the potential of women towards long-term economic development. In that question, I cited the Womenomics research report by Goldman Sachs, which detailed how women can boost Japan's economic growth. This body of work was led by Goldman Sachs Partner Kathy Matsui, who is Chief Japan Equity Strategist and Co-Head of Asia Investment Research at Goldman Sachs.

I was therefore really excited to have the chance to meet and talk to Kathy at the Summit. I was also excited to reconnect with my old friend Lin Kobayashi, another  powerful and inspiring Asian woman, a fellow Young Global Leader, and my classmate from the Lester Pearson United World College in British Columbia half a lifetime ago. (And because it's a small world, it turns out that Lin and Kathy are good friends! Our photos on the top right.)

With these two women among the inspiring women leaders at the helm of transformation in Asia, I definitely believe in a brighter future for Asia.  I do believe that a brighter future for the world lies in empowering women and unlocking the full potential of women as participants in the economy, in public policy, and in all aspects of building a global society.

Thus, I found most inspiring the WEF Plenary Session on "Asian Women as the Way Forward" - which featured Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Member of Parliament of Kawhmu Constituent, Myanmar; Helene D. Gayle, CEO and President, CARE USA and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on East Asia; Rokia Afzal Rahman, President, Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (BFWE), Bangladesh;and Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Group, Norway; chaired by CNN Anchor and Correspondent Andrew Stevens.

(Leftmost photo courtesy of the World Economic Forum)