Jessica Goodfellow
Jul 8, 2020

Why it is still important to spotlight women

Former Women to Watch winners explain why it is still important to champion women in the industry—especially in Asia-Pacific—and how many women would benefit from a bit of Kanye West's confidence.

Why it is still important to spotlight women

Campaign Asia-Pacific has been championing women in the region with our annual Women to Watch list for eight years now. 

While this is an important initiative for us, when we started the list in 2012, we may have hoped that it would no longer be necessary by 2020. But the founding principles that inspired the creation of Women To Watch back then remain relevant today. There is still significant gender inequality that exists within the industry that we write about every day—and some regions in Asia remain particularly problematic for women.


  • Early-bird nomination deadline: July 10, 6 pm HK/SG
  • Regular nomination deadline: July 17, 6 pm HK/SG

Nomination instructions and form >>

In fact, Campaign and Kantar's annual Diversity Study found that equality had actually deteriorated between 2017 to 2018, with 71% of people surveyed across Asia believing that men and women were treated equally at work in 2018—down from 84% in 2017. Over 50% believed men were more respected by top management than women, up from 28% in 2017. Additionally, after a year that saw widespread #MeToo activism across the world, more people—24% of men and 38% of women—said they had either experienced or observed sexual harassment.

So while there is inequality, there is still a need to spotlight the inspiring stories of women who have overcome biases, smashed glass ceilings and lifted not only their own but other women's careers too. In doing so, we hope Women to Watch can continue to be a motivator for female rising stars in the industry, and a resource of the incredible female talent this region has to offer—so there's no excuse for 'manels' at industry events any more.

What better way to understand why Women to Watch exists than to hear from some of 2019's winners what being named on the list meant to them? Hopefully their stories can inspire more women to bet on themselves and realise their worth.

Or as Katie Potter from Teads so poignantly puts it: "If Kanye West can run for President of the United States, then I hope that we all too can have the belief in ourselves!"

Lani Jamieson, head of Matterkind Singapore and Malaysia

In an ideal world initiatives like this wouldn’t be necessary but the fact remains there is still significant gender inequality across industries globally, with high prevalence in Asia. Until this reaches parity it is important to celebrate and support the success of women, giving them a voice and a platform to shine a spotlight on their achievements.

I felt honored to be recognised last year amongst the top 40 women across APAC making an impact and driving change across our industry. It’s empowering to receive recognition at a regional level and be selected amongst some amazingly talented women. It’s given me increased confidence and a reminder to ‘back myself’ more, I am damn good at what I do and I have worked extremely hard throughout my career to get to this point - so why not be proud of that? My advice to those considering to apply would simply be ‘Back yourself and go for it! What have you got to lose?’

Katie Potter, business director APAC, Teads

I was honoured to be included in the 2019 APAC Women To Watch list and to be recognised alongside other inspiring women. These initiatives are really important in recognising talent within the APAC region and to offer visible role models within the industry. My advice for those considering applying would be to go for it and to also encourage others to nominate women who they think are going above and beyond. I do think it can often be easy to take on the opinion that perhaps you just aren’t qualified enough and being a young woman can be challenging in any industry.  Often we need to prove ourselves to be given the same respect as our male counterparts. I mean if Kanye West can run for President of the United States, then I hope that we all too can have the belief in ourselves! We need to continue lifting other women up and these awards play a great part in this.

Aside from this being a personal achievement I think it’s important to remember that gender equality is a goal of the Agenda 2030 program for sustainable development (ONU). Although significant steps have been taken on the road to women's rights, full gender equality is still a goal to be achieved today. In fact, even in countries where by law there should be no differences between the sexes, we find that economic, political and social life are still dominated by representatives of the male gender. Compared to the past, the world is now a better place for women. According to the report The Gender Snapshot 2019 (published by UN-Women to analyse all the objectives of the 2030 agenda on the basis of the gender criterion) some indicators of gender equality show progress. I wanted to mention this as it’s no longer a topic that is limited to a group of feminists. These values are becoming cornerstones of future governments and I hope the progress continues across the region. Initiatives such as this are important in promoting these values and to give better futures for generations to come.

Pavarisa Chumvigrant, CMO, Line Mobile

Women to Watch highlights the importance of women’s invaluable contribution regardless of industry. This recognition has inspired many women and girls who may be in their early stages of their career with exemplary female leaders who are making changing in their own respective fields. I feel very honored to have been one of a roster of amazing female award recipients in 2019. In many ways, this recognition has validated my continuous effort to empower women in the work force and to guide them through their career.

Maddison Keogh, director of client advice and management, Initiative Australia 

Initiatives like Women to Watch that recognise the trailblazing work women are doing in our industry are so important not only to provide acknowledgment and thanks to those individuals, but to provide hope and inspiration for younger generations. Women are continually and consistently breaking glass ceilings but it’s vital that these achievements are shared with the wider industry to ensure all women, no matter what age or role, know what they can achieve.

My advice for those considering applying is to go for it! You have nothing to lose! The fight for gender equality needs strong women who believe in themselves and their achievements. You deserve the recognition and our industry needs to celebrate the women who are pushing the boundaries, overcoming challenges and achieving success.

Lina Ang, general manager APAC, Sojern

Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Women to Watch initiative is important as it recognises the top talents in Asia Pacific’s marketing and communications landscape. The platform gives women the visibility and recognition for their work done to date as well as what to look out for in the future. Personally, before I was nominated in 2019, it was something that I enjoyed staying abreast with. There are some strong women in tech, I’d love to keep seeing and hearing more about them. As a company who takes pride in taking a data-first approach, my advice is similar—rely on the facts and data, let your achievements speak for themselves.

Olivia Warren, head of studio, Initiative Australia 

Change and progression begin with visibility which is why initiatives like Women to Watch are so important.

The old saying; “If you can see it, you can be it” is particularly true of women in leadership positions and throughout my career I have personally benefited from seeing strong women like my CEO Melissa Fein, who have always inspired me and empowered me to back myself. To think that I could possibly be that person for the next generation, or help even just one person to forge ahead, is more than I could ever have hoped for.

My advice for anyone considering an entry is simple. There is only one you—be that person. Don’t try and be someone else. I’m most proud to say I’ve got to where I’ve got to, by being exactly who I am and I’ve found partners, employers and teams who have valued me for that and have celebrated my uniqueness.

Anna Patterson, vice president and MD, George P. Johnson

I was elated and humbled, it meant a lot professionally as it was a great validation of what I've achieved to date and an honour to be recognised. Personally for me it's awesome but collectively for me and my team it's amazing! It is recognition that I am on the right path; that following my heart does work, that doing what I love, what I am passionate Professionally it means I can connect with more people regionally, assist and advise more people, create positive change on a bigger scale, for GPJ and the industry as a whole. I recommend anybody considering to enter to do so— put your best foot forward, celebrate your achievements, show your passion for your business and the industry and it will shine through!

Avery Akkineni, head of VaynerMedia APAC

Women to Watch is an amazing initiative, and I was so honored to be in such excellent company in 2019. On a personal level, 2019 was a big year, moving to Singapore to start VaynerMedia APAC, so the nomination meant a lot. In an industry historically dominated by men, it's always great to celebrate the achievements of women who are making waves.

Marita Abraham, chief marketing officer, Zilingo

It’s been a privilege to be featured among some of the best names in the industry and I’m glad to see some stellar women being featured and applauded for their work and contributions. I’m looking forward to seeing more women championed this year and encourage all of you to nominate those who stand out with their commendable qualities.

Women to Watch 2020 is open for entries. Early-bird deadline closes this Friday (July 10). Here's a video with some advice on what makes a standout entry.


Campaign Asia

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