Parallel Event #2_12972

Gender Equality in Leadership and Economic Power

Parallel Event Description:

Join us as we celebrate path-breaking women in leadership and discuss the real challenges that remain for gender equality and economic power. While some places are seeing greater participation of women in leadership roles, significant barriers prevent more women from entering the same ranks. Many women experience “double workload” pre- and post-pandemic. What rules need to change to prevent this? How can the “standard career path” narrative be changed for greater fairness? What can organizations do to create better “family support” and provide opportunities for decision-making positions and economic power to more women?

The second session (CSW Event #12972) on March 18th, 9:00 pm EST, with the theme: “Gender Equality in Leadership and Economic Power”, was opened by Chairperson of the International Network of Liberal Women Jayanthi Balaguru, and moderated by this year’s event organizer Josephine Wu Vuylsteke.

In Chairperson Balaguru’s opening remarks, she reported on gender equality status in Asia and indicated that there is still a lot of work to be done to benefit the rights of women around the world.

The participants were President of East-West Center and Retired Army Major General Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum, Chairperson of CALD Youth Democratic Party (DP) of Thailand Siripa Nan Intavichein, Director of Dept. of Women’s Affairs for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Taiwan Chia Tien Hsu, and Shiuan Ru Wang, a member of the “Open Government National Action Plan Promotion Group” of Taiwan.

Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum is the first female president of Hawaii’s East-West Center since its establishment 62 years ago. She mentioned that when she was young, she never imagined that she would one day hold a supervisory position that used to be held by men.

She also emphasized that for women to take care of work and family requires the cooperation of spouses and family members in domestic work. Therefore, “good men” are very important to promote gender equality. Chairperson Siripa Nan Intavichein shared that women in Thailand are currently engaged in politics, salary, employment, job opportunities, although even during the coronavirus epidemic, there was a gender gap between men and men. Director Chia Tien Hsu shared the development and challenges of gender equality in Taiwan in recent years.

The proportion of women in politics and government units in Taiwan ranks among the best in Asian countries. She also suggested that President Tsai Ing-wen’s election as Taiwan’s first female president was an important milestone for the development of Taiwan’s gender equality.

Delegate Shiuan Ru Wang is only 20 years old. When she was 16 years old, while she was still a high school student, she advocated for the reduction of one-time use tableware through online platforms and successfully influenced government policy.

Taiwan began to ban plastic straws as a result of her actions. It is impressive that young women can play a key role in major government policies.  At the same time, they are more optimistic about the future development of gender equality.


  • Practical Issues of Gender Equality
  • Fair game rules on the career path
  • Equal opportunities for important government positions
  • Better family support backup system
  • During pandemic & post pandemic period – women’s role to improve the world


Jayanthi Balaguru / Chairperson, International Network of Liberal Women, INLW


Josephine Wu Vuylsteke / Board Member, Asia Pacific Liberal Women Association, APLWA


Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum / President, East-West Center/ Retired Army Major General and the first female, native Hawaiian to reach General Officer rank

Siripa Nan Intavichein / Chairperson, CALD Youth Democratic Party (DP), Thailand

Chia Tien Hsu / Director, Dep. of Women’s Affairs, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan

Shiuan Ru Wang / Young advocate for government policy making, Taiwan

Jayanthi Devi Balaguru

Chairperson, International Network of Liberal Women, INLW Jayanthi Devi Balaguru is currently serving as President, International Network of Liberal Women (INLW) and Chair of the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD) Women’s Caucus. She is a lawyer, and an active member of Parti Gerakan Rakyat in Malaysia. Previously, she has served as an elected member of the Central Committee Member of the party, Wanita Gerakan Chairman and Chairman of the Central Environment Bureau


Josephine Wu Vuylsteke

Board Member, Asia Pacific Liberal Women Association, APLW


  • Asia-Pacific Liberal Women Association, Board Member
  • North American Taiwanese Women’s Association (NATWA), Hawaii Chapter, Consultant and Past President


  • Chief of Staff for Legislator Bi-khim Hsiao
  • Radio Free Asia (RFA), Taipei Bureau Chief
  • Public Television, Program Producer & Administrator
  • Broadcasting Fund, Project Manager & Senior Editor


  • MA in Political Science, National Taiwan University
  • BA in Broadcasting, Shih Hsin University


Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum

President, East-West Center

U.S. Army Major General (Retired)

Suzanne Puanani Vares-Lum took office as President of the East-West Center in January 2022. She is the first woman, Native Hawaiian, and Hawaiʻi resident to be chosen for this role.

Vares-Lum brings executive leadership and planning experience spanning the past several decades, culminating in five years serving with and advising the most senior officials at US Indo-Pacific Command, where she cultivated and maintained key relationships with nations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

As a retired Major General with 34 years of service, Vares-Lum has held key roles addressing priority national security challenges in the region. After retirement, she formed Vares-Lum Indo-Pacific Consulting, LLC to provide consulting and advising on regional issues. She is a seasoned keynote speaker and advocate on Indo-Pacific issues; leadership and mentorship; and Women, Peace, and Security. She led collaborative initiatives in the Pacific, including Hawaiʻi, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1989 and her Master of Education in Teaching in 1996 from the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa. As a graduate of the US Army War College, she earned a Master of Strategic Studies degree in 2011. In 2019, she became a National Security Fellow of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also an alumna of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

Siripa Nan Intavichein

Chairperson, CALD Youth
Democrat Party (DP)

Siripa Intavichein currently serves as Assistant to former Thai Prime Minister and Democrat Party Leader, Chuan Leekpai. She is also the Business Development Director for Sirinakorn Co., in Thailand. 

She was also elected as a global shaper at the Bangkok Hub of the Global Shapers Community. Siripa received her Bachelor’s degree from the Mahidol University with concentration in Entertainment Media and holds a Master’s degree in Global Management of Finance and Politics from the Regent’s University in United Kingdom and Governance from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, respectively.

Chia-Tien Hsu 

Democratic Progressive Party, Director of Department of Womens Affairs

Present Position:

Democratic Progressive Party, Director of Department of Women’s Affairs


National Taiwan University, Master of Department of Political Science
National Taiwan University, Bachelor of Department of Social Work

Political Experience:

Executive Yuan, Senior Executive Officer of Premier Office
Kaohsiung City Government, Confidential Secretary of Mayor Office

NGO Experience:

National Alliance of Taiwan Women’s Associations, Secretary General
Taiwan Women’s Film Association, Board Member

Shiuan Ru Wang  

Environmental activist and Open Government National Action Plan Taskforce member

Originally from Hsinchu, Taiwan, Shiuan-ru Wang initiated a proposal in 2017 called “Phasing out the use of disposable tableware”, which caught the attention of the government at the age of 17.

Now, she is a junior in the department of Interior Design. As a runway model as well as through serving in the Taiwan government’s Open Government National Action Plan Taskforce, she wants use her diverse skills and experiences to inspire the world to strike a balance between nature and humanity.