Michelle Yeoh Redirects Spotlight To Helping Women Recover From Disasters

The "Everything Everywhere All At Once" star and Oscar winner shifted attention to highlight the inequalities women and girls globally face after a disaster.

Just one day after her historic Oscars win, Michelle Yeoh used her spotlight to redirect the attention to an issue dear to her: helping women around the world recover from disasters.

In a New York Times op-ed on Monday, the “Everything Everywhere All At Once” actor recalled her trip to Nepal in 2015, where she experienced the destructive 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed thousands, injured tens of thousands and displaced millions. As she evacuated days later, Yeoh said she “couldn’t shake the thought of how unfair it was that I had a home to go to, unlike the thousands of families whose entire lives were suddenly reduced to rubble.”

The film star said she has since revisited Nepal multiple times ― including as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations ― to help with relief efforts, and witnessed the permanent damage to residents who were already living with minimal support. She recently recalled Nepal’s crisis when a devastatingly deadly earthquake hit Turkey and Syria last month.

“Crises aren’t just moments of catastrophe: They expose deep existing inequalities. Those living in poverty, especially women and girls, bear the brunt,” Yeoh wrote. “In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, lack of sanitation, health facilities and safety disproportionately affect women.”

“In my time as a goodwill ambassador, I have seen up close how women and girls are often the last to go back to school and the last to get basic services like clean water, vaccines, identity cards and counseling. They are typically the last to get jobs and loans,” she continued. “To fully recover from a disaster and be prepared for the next one, the specific needs of women and girls must be factored into the humanitarian response.”

Yeoh, who has been a global star for decades, won her first Oscar on Sunday night. The decision was a historic one, with Yeoh becoming the first Asian actor ― and only second woman of color ― to win the award in the Best Actress category. In her acceptance speech, Yeoh said her win is a “beacon of hope” for young people “who look like me,” and told women to not “let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime.”

“I’m 60 years old, and I just won my first Oscar. I know something about perseverance, and I am all too aware of what society expects of women,” the actor said in her op-ed. “I’m also well aware that my experience can’t compare at all with that of the women heroes I met who are on the front lines of crises.”

“But if I can do one thing with this moment of my professional joy, it would be to point the spotlight on those who all too often go unacknowledged, the women who are rebuilding their communities, taking care of children and older people and putting food on the table,” she continued. “Let’s make sure they are not missing from the room when decisions are being made that affect them the most.”

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