5 minutes with AWDPI and Avoice founder Xinyi Yu

7 August 2023
Empowering gender equality worldwide
Xinyi Yu, founder of AWDPI and Avoice, champions gender equality through her academic background and real-world experience. Her mission: to create a violence-free, equitable world for everyone, and provide advice to those who want to pursue their passion projects.

Xinyi Yu, is the founder of the newly empowering gender equality international organisation AWDPI (Asian Women Development Plan International) and its brand program Avoice (Against Violence to Overseas Chinese Women). She received a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Economics from the University of Sydney and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Public Policy at Harvard University. She has interned at renowned institutions such as the European Parliament, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Philanthropreneur Foundation. She also has curated impactful exhibitions at the United Nations, advocating for vulnerable children in challenging circumstances. 

She was recognised as a Shaper of World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, ambassador of the Antarctic Climate Epic Expedition led by Sylvia Earle, member of the Horizon Global Youth Development Program in Tsinghua University and honorary student of Global Elite Eagle Practice Growth Program in Zhejiang University. Her commitment to social justice and her belief in the power of collective action drives her to promote a more equitable and violence-free world for all.

What inspired you to focus specifically on assisting overseas Chinese women facing domestic violence?

While interning at the European Parliament, I received a research project from China about Chinese people overseas facing violated rights during COVID-19. Surprisingly, I received numerous pleas for help from Chinese women experiencing domestic violence. They often face additional challenges such as limited citizenship rights, language and cultural barriers, lack of understanding of local laws, prejudice as outsiders, and being distant from family and friends back home.

Driven by a sense of mission and responsibility, I initiated Avoice (Against Violence to Overseas Chinese Women) Program in this overlooked field. This program aims to provide comprehensive and ongoing protection and assistance to overseas Chinese women facing domestic violence, including language help, psychological counseling, legal aid, shelter, community support, overseas rescue networks, and amplifying their voices. Avoice also collaborates with various organisations to advocate for public awareness and support of the living difficulties faced by overseas Chinese women, creating a safe and equal environment for their survival and development.

As an alum of the University of Sydney, were there any specific experiences or opportunities during your studies that helped shape your career?

As an alumna of the University of Sydney, I am grateful for the transformative experiences and invaluable opportunities that shaped my career.

Immersed in a diverse and inclusive academic community, I had the privilege of engaging with inspiring professors and fellow students who fostered critical thinking, social consciousness, and a global perspective. Furthermore, the university's extensive network facilitated connections with professionals, mentors, and organisations, which broadened my horizons and opened doors to various opportunities.

And I am incredibly grateful for the support received from various Chinese alumni associations and student organizations from the University of Sydney. Their dedication and contributions have played a crucial role in the success and impact of Avoice in supporting overseas Chinese women facing domestic violence and promoting gender equality.

What educational or experiential opportunities would you recommend to gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding domestic violence and supporting survivors?

Consider taking courses or pursuing a degree in social work, psychology, gender studies, public policy, etc, as they provide a strong foundation for understanding domestic violence and its impact. Additionally, volunteering with organisations that support survivors of domestic violence can provide invaluable hands-on experience and insights into their challenges. Seeking internships or research opportunities with professionals working in the field can further deepen knowledge. And attending workshops, conferences, and seminars on domestic violence and related topics can offer a broader perspective and allow for networking with experts and passionate advocates.

What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about a particular social cause and wants to start their own volunteering organisation to address that issue?

First, thoroughly research the issue and understand its root causes and existing efforts to address it. Identify the specific gap or need that the organization can fulfill.

Second, create a detailed plan outlining the organization's mission, goals, and strategies to address the cause effectively. Develop a clear roadmap for implementation.

Third, build a network of supporters, including volunteers, potential donors, and partners who share passion. Collaborate and leverage their expertise and resources to maximize impact.

Fourth, establish a solid organisational structure, including clear roles and responsibilities, governance policies, and systems for monitoring and evaluation.

Lastly, ensure sustainability by diversifying funding sources, cultivating long-term relationships with stakeholders, and continuously adapting and innovating to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving landscape.

What's next for you?

I am thrilled to join the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for a two-year Master's in Public Policy. My goal is to deepen my understanding of policy solutions for critical issues. During this time, I aim to expand my knowledge, gain invaluable skills and grow my network for fundraising.

I plan to transform the Avoice program into an international organisation called AWDPI (Asian Women Development Plan International) with legal registrations in multiple countries. Using my education and expertise, I'll enhance support systems for overseas Chinese women facing domestic violence globally. Through advocacy, awareness raising, and resource mobilisation, I believe we can create a lasting impact on gender equality. I am excited to contribute to a more equitable and empowered future for women worldwide.

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