The Beijing Women's Network holds Monthly Spotlight Dinners to bring our membership together and share professional and personal experiences. Each dinner we spotlight one of our members, who then leads a discussion centered around their own experiences or a topic of choice.
For this month we have Dr. Alessandra Aresu, the Country Director of Handicap International China. Alessandra was born in Italy, more specifically in Sardinia, an island where women of the age of her grandmother’s generation did not go to school and could speak only dialect, and women of her mother’s generation barely graduated from primary school. When she was in junior middle school she thought that stopping her studies at the age of 15 was cool. Her father disagreed and convinced her to keep going to school. Since then, almost 30 years later, she never stopped studying. Her father is still wandering how this could have happened!
Alessandra left Italy in 1999 and conducted all her postgraduate studies in the UK, becoming a specialist on Gender and Sexuality in China. By the time she finished her PhD in 2006 she was already teaching at the University of Milan but she kept moving between Italy, China and the UK trying to balance her personal and professional life, with a good amount of success and challenges. Her academic work brought her to explore the NGO world and to start collaborations with local and international NGOs in Italy, China and the UK. This was how she met the man who became her husband in 2013.
Her family, who almost lost hope to see her married, thought she was finally settling down at the age of 40. But their life style cannot really be defined as “settling down”. Together they moved from London to Haiti, then to Pakistan and finally to China where, she became Country Director of an International NGO. She was able to lead the launch of several initiatives on gender, sexuality and disability, promoting inclusion and equal rights for all. In China, Alessandra has worked tirelessly in promoting the rights of the most vulnerable. Alessandra will soon leave China to work on global gender and sexuality issues. Come and hear her share her challenges, successes, and lessons that have made her the independent woman and inspiring leader she is today.
The dinner cost will be paid on a go-dutch basis, as usual. Usually, it costs around RMB80/ person. Organizers will announce the payment method during the dinner.