Get to know the founder of Women of Hong Kong – Sarah Vee

From a modest start, WOHK's membership now boasts over 7,000 women, and its influence extends beyond Hong Kong to women across Asia.

Experience the power of women's connectivity and collaboration with Women of Hong Kong (WOHK), a vibrant community rapidly gaining momentum in the city. WOHK is a haven where women can connect, collaborate and explore opportunities. From a modest start, WOHK's membership now boasts over 7,000 women, and its influence extends beyond Hong Kong to women across Asia.

At the heart of WOHK's mission is to promote gender equality and women's rights. Sarah Vee, the founder of WOHK, has a vision of creating a central hub for women in the city to network and thrive. She hopes that WOHK can continue to be an inspiration to women everywhere, helping them achieve their dreams and reach their full potential.

Founder of WOHK, Sarah Vee
Source: Women of Hong Kong (Founder of WOHK, Sarah Vee)

Drawing from her personal experience, Sarah provided valuable advice for women facing discrimination or struggling to realize their goals. She urged women to take risks, stay true to themselves and seek supportive communities, such as WOHK, to navigate challenging times.

To learn more about WOHK and its mission, TMS interviewed its founder, Sarah Vee, who answered ten questions about the organization its vision, and how it supports women's aspirations.

Q: Can you tell us about the Women of Hong Kong community and what it aims to achieve?

Women of Hong Kong is a vibrant and diverse community that is very much community-driven. Our aim is to promote gender equality and empower women in Hong Kong. We're a community of women from all walks of life, united by our shared passion for supporting and uplifting one another. Our goal is to create a supportive and inclusive space for women in Hong Kong to connect and unlock opportunities.

Q: What inspired you to start the Women of Hong Kong community, and what has been its impact so far?

The Women of the Hong Kong community wasn't something I had initially planned or envisioned. It started as a little circle of women who wanted to feel safe while socializing and having drinks. In 2014, I started a Facebook group called Girls of Hong Kong. It began as a group of women who liked to attend events and socialize. Since anyone in the group could invite their connections, the group grew to 200 members within six months. I then created a WhatsApp group that, in time, organically turned into a support hotline for all things that women need.

Through word of mouth, the group eventually grew from a handful of women to the 7000 signups we have today! In 2021, we officially launched our website and opened the group to the public, which is when our growth really catapulted. The impact has been amazing; we've been able to support and empower women in Hong Kong in so many ways. We've provided a safe space for women to connect, share experiences and support each other. Many smaller group chats branching from Women of Hong Kong address a whole host of women's needs, from job-seeking to single mother support groups and various interest groups like chess clubs and hiking buddies. We've also organized events, workshops, and campaigns that have brought together many local brands, establishments and communities.

Q: How does Women of Hong Kong collaborate with other organizations and groups with similar values or objectives?

Working with other organizations and groups is a big part of what we do at Women of Hong Kong. We believe that collaboration is key to achieving our objectives and making a real impact, and we are always looking for ways to collaborate in whatever form is most impactful for the people we're working with. For example, we love organizing events for our community members in collaboration with different restaurants and bars. It's a fun way to bring people together while supporting local businesses.

Ultimately, we believe that there's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to collaboration. We're always looking for ways to tailor our approach to best suit the needs and objectives of the groups we're working with. We're always excited to continue building relationships with like-minded organizations and individuals to create a better future for women in Hong Kong.

Q: If you could create a Women of Hong Kong-themed cocktail, what would be in it?

If I were to create a Women of Hong Kong-themed cocktail, I think I would use ingredients that represent different aspects of the community. Maybe something with a mix of sweet and spicy flavours to represent the diversity of our members and a splash of green tea to represent the city's culture.

Q: What's one thing you wish people knew about Women of Hong Kong that they don't currently know?

One thing I wish people knew about the Women of Hong Kong is not just a community – it's a movement. We are all part of this movement to drive real change in our society. With an incredibly diverse member base, with women from all walks of life, including different age groups, professions, and backgrounds, we believe that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths towards creating a truly inclusive community that welcomes everyone.

Q: What are your plans for expanding the reach and impact of Women of Hong Kong in the coming years?

My vision for Women of Hong Kong is to expand our reach and impact beyond Hong Kong to other parts of Asia. I believe that our brand can be easily scalable, and we can create similar communities such as Women of Singapore, Women of the Philippines, Women of Vietnam, and so on. However, before we can expand, it's important for me personally to find and connect with women who share our values and intentions.

It's crucial that they understand that Women of Hong Kong is not a money-making opportunity but a movement for positive change. Those who join us should have a genuine desire to make a difference and leave the world a better place. Once we have a strong global network of like-minded individuals, we can work together to expand our impact and make a meaningful difference in the lives of women across Asia.

Women of Hong Kong
Source: Women of Hong Kong

Q: What role do you see Women of Hong Kong playing in the broader context of gender equality and women's rights in Hong Kong and beyond?

I see the Women of Hong Kong like one big fish that is entering this sea and focusing on these issues head-on. Unlike many larger corporations that may hesitate addressing issues surrounding women’s rights or equality due to fear of backlash or harm to their brand image, Women of Hong Kong’s brand is our people. We have nothing to protect or hide, and we're not trying to please anyone. We have the freedom to say whatever needs to be said to bring about change, and we're not afraid to use our voices to stand up for others. I see the Women of Hong Kong as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to promoting gender equality and fighting for real change.

Q: What advice do you have for women seeking to pursue their goals and dreams but facing obstacles or discrimination?

My advice for women facing obstacles or discrimination while pursuing their goals and dreams is to first focus on themselves. This means working on self-awareness and self-love. It's hard work, but it's necessary to become a better person for yourself.

The next step is to work on communication and confidence. Without these skills, it will be challenging to assert yourself and ask for the things you need to succeed. No one will hear you out if you can't make yourself heard!

When you have both of these things, everything else falls into place. You'll find it easier to get the resources you need to grow both personally and professionally, and people will pay attention to the message you are trying to put out.

Q: How can businesses and other institutions in Hong Kong better support and empower women, and what changes would you like to see in the community?

There are so many ways that businesses and institutions can support women in Hong Kong, from implementing more flexible work arrangements to providing mentorship and leadership training opportunities. We'd also like to see more gender-sensitive policies and practices, such as better support for working mothers. We need to create a culture of inclusivity and respect for women in all areas of society.

Q: What's your favorite quote or mantra that helps you stay motivated and inspired?

The only person that can stop me is myself.

Q: Finally, what message would you like to convey to the public about Women of Hong Kong and why it matters for the city and the world?

Our message is simple – when women succeed, we all succeed. Women of Hong Kong is not just about creating opportunities for women but about building a more inclusive, equitable, and just society for everyone. We want to show the world that women can uplift and empower one another, and it does not have to be lonely at the top. I hope that more people will join us on this journey to create a brighter future for women in Hong Kong and beyond.