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Sylvia Yu Friedman is an award-winning filmmaker, investigative journalist, international speaker, serial entrepreneur, and advisor to philanthropists.
She is the author of two books: Silenced No More: Voices of Comfort Women, the only journalistic account of Japanese military sex slavery during the Second World War, and Heart and Soul: The Life Story of Pastor Augustus Chao.
In 2017, Sylvia was listed in Assent Compliance’s ‘Top 100 Human Trafficking & Slavery Influence Leaders’. In 2013, she won the prestigious International Human Rights Press Award for her three-part documentary series on human trafficking in China, Hong Kong and Thailand.
After ten years of intensive research and interviews with elderly survivors, academics, lawyers and activists in different countries, Sylvia is considered a global expert on the victims of Japanese military sex slavery, known as ‘comfort women’. She’s been interviewed or featured by the BBC, CNN, CGTN, South China Morning Post, and The Globe and Mail, and covered widely in the media across China and the rest of Asia.
Sylvia is listed as a SheSource expert in the database of the Women’s Media Center, which was founded by Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem, and serves as a resource for journalists.
Sylvia believes her core calling is to use her business and communication skills to mobilise people and resources to help those suffering in the most marginalised places. Since 2005, Sylvia has managed and directed millions of dollars to major humanitarian portfolios, impacting the lives of more than a million people. This work has given her access to many influential networks in different countries.
Sylvia led a Hong Kong-based movement of ‘passionate compassion’ against human trafficking that involved more than 120 churches, NGOs and organisations, and later expanded to other countries, including Malaysia, China, Canada, South Africa and the US. Through more than 50 slavery awareness events over 18 months, her team has reached more than 25,000 people in universities, schools and major corporations like Goldman Sachs.
Sylvia is married to Matthew Friedman, a top-ranked inspirational keynote speaker and a leading global expert on slavery who is currently the CEO of The Mekong Club and was formerly a United Nations director and US diplomat. In the summer of 2016, they delivered 113 presentations in 27 US cities. She and Matthew are based in Hong Kong.