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Cristina Amaral, or Kiki as she likes to be called, is Timor-Leste’s first female pilot. She grew up in the isolated district of Oecusse in a country known for its recently restored independence, and couldn’t help but notice that all pilots in her beloved country were male. After studying and balancing the care of her four siblings, she won a scholarship to attend flight school, standing up against the odds in her male-dominated profession. Today, she proudly soars high above the clouds, a remarkable figure in the aviation industry.
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Aasha Mehreen Amin was one of the first female editors of the most read English language magazine in Bangladesh, The Star, and is now the deputy editor of the Editorial and Op-ed section of the most widely circulated English newspaper in the country, The Daily Star. In her column “No Strings Attached”, in the paper, she provides insightful commentary on the news of the day. An emblem of courageous journalism, she is well-known in a media landscape where political commentary is a risky business, and the workforce, especially in the news media, dominated by men.
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Professor Muhammad Yunus established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh with the objective of helping poor people escape from poverty by providing loans without collateral to support income-generating activities. From Prof. Yunus's personal loan of small amounts of money in the mid-70s to destitute basket-weavers in Bangladesh, the Grameen Bank has advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through microlending. Today it has 8.4 million borrowers of whom 97 per cent are women, and has lent over USD 8.4 billion with a near 100 per cent repayment rate. Prof. Yunus is the recipient of 112 awards, including, the World Food Prize, the Sydney Peace Prize, and the Seoul Peace Prize. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009.
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Delphine Nana Mekounte, 60, was Cameroon’s National Coordinator for NGOs at the time of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She is now the Director General of CEFEPROD (Women’s Centre for Promoting Development), a nongovernmental organization that promotes the economic, social and cultural development of women and youth.
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Winner of the prestigious 2014 Gender Equality Advocate Award of the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, in November 2013 Amelia a police officer with the Vulnerable Person’s Unit of the National Police of Timor-Leste is a powerful voice and a role model. In a country where women make up less than 20 per cent of the national police force, Amelia, who is a mother of two young children, is one of the longest-serving members of the Vulnerable Persons Unit, which has a particularly challenging mandate, dealing with crimes that are often accepted culturally within society and where survivors face various barriers in accessing justice.