Wedu has an expanding global community of change-makers who are committed towards women’s leadership development.
I am Phyu
“I was born and grew up in a Muslim family in Myanmar. My nationality is Myanmar and my religion is Islam. I spent my youth in the culture of a traditional Muslim community. Fortunately, I could do everything as how and what I want. I was not extremely restricted by disciplines. In my culture (traditional Muslim community) women are second-class citizens. In my country (Myanmar), Muslims are second-class citizens. In such a situation, I have been struggling to be able to stand on my feet in my community, in my country as a Myanmar Muslim girl. So I decided to wear hijab to break the misconception that Muslim women lack the strength, passion, and power to strive for their own rights.”
Phyu is 27 years old and Wedu is supporting her financially for her PhD in Physical Therapy at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. We matched her with a mentor and connected her with a community of young leaders all over Asia as well as mentors around the world. “My mentor helped me ask the hard questions and do a lot of self reflection”. “The personal desire which pushes me to change my mind to wear the hijab is to try to understand my identity, my role and place in society. I like to be respected for what I believe.”
Upon completion of her studies, she will be the first female Ph.D. holder in the field of Physical Therapy in Myanmar and a source of inspiration for women who aspires to become leaders in their field. She is President of the Myanmar Physiotherapy Student Society, and a Myanmar student representative at the Asia Physical Therapy Student Association. Her long-term goal is to implement the autonomy of physiotherapy practice as an academician and to draw a World Confederation of Physical Therapy standard curriculum. Recently she presented her experience at the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI in Bangkok) Forum on Gender Equality in Education.
I am Phearong
Phearong is one of Wedu’s first Rising Stars, she is an incredible 22 year old woman from the Kampong Cham province in Cambodia. She comes from a rural village and is the youngest of five children and first to attend university.
She has experienced from a very early age how women are withdrawn from school, often married and with a lack of education, excluded from the job market. Wedu is supporting her financially to pursue a degree in International Relations and Economics at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
She has a very special relationship with her mentor, Marica, from Canada: “I am really excited with how my mentor encourages me and always says yes to me that I can do it. This is why I always keep going.“ She aspires to become a visionary NGO leader and an acclaimed professor in order to instill gender equality and growth in her community and country.
Phearong is one of Wedu’s first participants of the Future Income Sharing Agreements (FISAs). She did not hesitate to sign on as she say “I wants do as much as possible to give opportunity to other girls to study, thank you Wedu family for having me with you.” Phearong is already a leader as was chosen as a Young Women’s Representative for UN Women. She was asked to provide a speech that addressed violence against women.
She also founded a student run organization called Joint-of-Youth (JOY) where she and her university peers travel to rural schools in the Takeo province to teach math, English and leadership skills to children in rural schools on weekends; and has a long history as member of Khmer Youth Association advocating for leadership opportunities in Cambodia.
I am Menuka
“I will remember that Wedu funded me, but more than that they were there during my undergraduate degree and here to support me because sometimes you need somebody to be with you no matter what happens. It is like a family, I like that feeling.”
Menuka is 20 years old and comes from Kathmandu, Nepal, where extreme gender inequality exists. Wedu provided critical funding to help her continue her studies in Management at Bangkok University in Thailand.
Wedu matched her with a male mentor and she said: “I believe that if we want to empower women, it makes more sense to involve men too.” Prior to joining Wedu, Menuka was involved in Women LEAD Nepal where she led weekly workshops for younger female students to share knowledge about social issues that affect Nepal, including biases against female education.
Her long term career goal is to become a social entrepreneur. She wants to challenge the stereotype that women can’t run businesses, and at the same time challenge traditional views against women. If you meet Menuka, this will come as no surprise as she has a can do attitude and personality that suits a tenacious entrepreneur.