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Expats gather for women’s Day


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 Guests talk with Sebastien Bourgeois (L), international strategy director for French nonprofit IRNGO, which benefits orphans and children with disabilities, at Friday’s Women’s Day event at Marco Polo Shenzhen.Sun Yuchen


MORE than 100 female expats from local social groups, companies and communities gathered at a luncheon at Marco Polo Shenzhen on Friday as part of the city’s International Women’s Day celebrations.

Speakers included Hilary K. Robie, architecture design director of AECOM Shenzhen; Betty Jin, of U.S. taxi-hailing and ride-sharing startup Uber; and Heidi Olson, executive director of Sunshine Academy. They talked about their work, daily lives and cultural experiences.

“It’s great to take a rocket to the moon, but the really hard thing we do every day is put our family first,” Robie said. “Women are in a unique position (regarding) family and society.”

Chinese-American Jin, who was born in Shanghai and raised in the United States, moved to Shenzhen last year to run Uber’s local office. She talked about her frustrations with China’s societal expectation that women get married “before getting old.”

“Some Chinese call single women older than 27 ‘leftover women.’ They ask how women who focus on their career and work in different cities can find boyfriends,” Jin said. “I think it is a personal choice for women.”

At a fashion show performed by some of the guests, image consultant Malini Hemlani of Color Me Beautiful shared her knowledge of colors, makeup and styles for women. “Personality decides your style. Each woman has her unique traits and should be comfortable with her body image,” Hemlani said.

The International Women’s Day gathering was hosted by BSV Events & Publications. A portion of the ticket proceeds will be given to Captivating International, to help fund a charitable mission in western China to help women and children receive medical care and education. Several expat jewelry and clothing seller, as well as charity organizations, set up booths at the event for charity sales.