The role and position of women in Asia in an era of anti-elitism was discussed at the 12th Women in Asia Conference held at UNSW Sydney in June.

More than 300 people heard about a range of pressing social, economic and legal challenges facing women in Asia. They also heard about the challenge of rising populism in the region and its threat to gender inclusivity.

More than 150 presenters from more than 30 universities in 14 Asian countries spoke at the conference.

The conference was organised by UNSW Law’s Dr Melissa Crouch and an interdisciplinary team of academics including: Scientia Professor Louise Edwards (Humanities and Languages); Dr Tanya Jakimow (School of Social Sciences); Dr Felix Tan and Dr Carmen Leong (Business School); and Dr Minako Sakai (School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra).

Dr Crouch said as well as featuring presenter talks on seven panel streams, the conference held two research methods masterclasses, and also included a distinguished public lecture, an early career workshop, two sub-regional council Annual General Meetings, and a side event on China.

“Our speakers came from India, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, China and Korea,” she said.

The conference also hosted two distinguished guests: Judge Saitip Sukatipan from the Office of the Administrative Court in Thailand; and Judge Selma Alaras, who is the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Philippines.

The Women in Asia Conference is affiliated with the peak body for university experts on Asia, The Asian Studies Association of Australia’s Women’s Forum, which began in 1978.

The first Women in Asia Conference, which is a key forum for networking and solidarity, was held at UNSW in 1981.

The event was supported by the UNSW Institute of Global Development; the national body for humanities, The Australian Academy for the Humanities; international political foundation,  Konrad-Adenaeur-Stiftung; The Asian Studies Association of Australia; and the Women in Asia Forum.

The UNSW the School of Social Sciences, the Business School and the Gilbert + Tobin Centre for Public Law also supported the event.