BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN –  Bruneian and Malaysian alumni from the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) have launched a website to connect female professionals across ASEAN, hoping to increase the representation of women’s expertise across all industries.

Dubbed “Southeast Asia Women“, the website is part LinkedIn, part Bumble Bizz — a place to expand your network, meet collaborators, or become a mentor.

“What we’re effectively doing is gathering a resource pool of talented Southeast Asian women,” said Aimi Ramlee, project co-lead for the website, and co-founder of Brunei-based software company, Tyne Solutions.

“We compile the profiles of women who are leaders in their respective fields — from the arts and human rights to education and governance.”

The landing page for southeastasiawomen.org. Photo: Courtesy of Fadhli Sani

The idea came about after alumni of YSEALI’s Women Leadership Academy — a US State Department-funded initiative to strengthen women’s leadership development in ASEAN — got together and decided to embark on a project that would increase the visibility of female leadership in the region, from the community to political level.

They worked together to establish a platform that would enable women across ASEAN to be better represented in industry events and regional projects.

“The women who are profiled here have volunteered to put themselves forward to be contactable for things like speaking engagements, collaborative projects and mentoring — whether to be mentored or to mentor others,” said Aimi.

“It’s a way for women leaders from across ASEAN to not just develop their capacity to be women leaders in their own country, but really to start collaborating across borders find solutions that not only benefit women, but the wider community.”

Guests at the launch of the YSEALI Women website mingling at The Collective Wildflower Cafe in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Photo: Courtesy of Fadhli Sani

At the Brunei launch of the website on Saturday, female leaders in the community showed up to support the initiative, including members of the Legislative Council: Siti Rozaimeriyanty DSLJ Hj Abd Rahman, Nik Hafimi Abdul Haadii, and Khairunnisa Ash’ari.

As YSEALI Women Country Lead for Brunei, Aimi stressed that they want to encourage more Bruneian women who are leaders and experts in their field to submit their profiles for consideration and be active members of the network.

“This is one way to ensure that the knowledge that we gain in our own communities is not just limited to our own countries, but can help and benefit women in other countries.”

Women can submit their own profiles to the website, or nominate someone they feel should be recognised.

The current list of profiles is by no means exhaustive and will continue to grow, Aimi said, with nomination rounds to be announced every six months.

The website was simultaneously launched in Brunei and Malaysia, as part of YSEALI YOUnified, an annual event which aims to encourage young people to be civically engaged and demonstrate the power of youth to develop solutions to pressing local, national and regional issues.

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