Sylvia Yu Friedman is an award-winning filmmaker, Penguin author, serial entrepreneur, and philanthropy consultant. She is the author of three books, A Long Road to Justice: Stories from the Frontlines in Asia (Penguin Random House); Silenced No More: Voices of Comfort Women, the only journalistic account of historical Japanese military sex slavery during WWII, and Heart and Soul: The Life Story of Pastor Augustus Chao.
Matthew Friedman: As the founder and CEO of The Mekong Club, Matthew Friedman is a global expert on modern slavery and human trafficking. An award-winning filmmaker, author and philanthropist, Matthew regularly advises heads of governments and intelligence agencies. Matthew is considered the leading catalyst of the anti-slavery movement in Asia’s business sector by captains of industry.
More of Sylvia Yu Friedman’s bio from LinkedIn: A former TV anchor and advisor to philanthropists, Sylvia was among the Top 100 Human Trafficking & Slavery Influence Leaders List in 2017 by Assent Compliance. She won the prestigious 2013 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 interviewing elderly survivors, academics, lawyers and activists in different nations, Sylvia is considered an expert on “comfort women” Japanese Imperial military sex slavery. She’s been interviewed or featured on the BBC, CNN, SCMP, Globe and Mail, CGTN among others and covered widely in the Chinese media. Sylvia is a SheSource expert of the Women’s Media Center, founded by Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem and is listed in a database of women experts who serve as a resource for journalists.
Since 2005, Sylvia has managed and directed millions of dollars to major humanitarian portfolios impacting at least more than one million people. This work has given her access to many influential networks in different countries.
Sylvia led a Hong Kong-based movement against human trafficking that involved more than 120 churches, NGOs, and organizations and later expanded to other nations like Malaysia, South Africa, and the U.S.
Sylvia is married to Matthew Friedman, a top-ranked keynote speaker and global expert on slavery, CEO of The Mekong Club, and former U.N. and U.S. diplomat. Together in the summer of 2016, they gave 113 talks in 27 U.S. cities. Matthew is a producer of two award-winning films; he advised the movie Sold (2014) executive produced by Emma Thompson. Sylvia is working on a feature film and several business projects. She is now promoting her latest book, A Long Road to Justice: Stories from the Frontlines in Asia published by Penguin Random House and producing a film based on this memoir. She and Matthew are based in Hong Kong. Currently, Sylvia is writing a biography.
“I’ve been in many situations in China and Southeast Asia where there was a level of danger on the job. I’ve interviewed human traffickers– people who buy and sell people– I’ve been followed by undercover police, I’ve been surrounded by Burmese military with machine guns and lived to tell about it, I’ve walked across a river on a log to sneak into another country because that was the only route used by aid workers, I’ve been grabbed from behind by a strange man in Bangkok, I’ve sat in brothels interviewing scary pimps, I’ve traveled through Sichuan’s rubble days after the big earthquake, I’ve spoken with strung-out drug addicts with AIDS who had heroin needles sticking out from their arms as they eyed my diamond earrings and looked like they were going to rip them out. If my eyes glaze over when you’re talking about your bad hair day, now you know.” ~ Sylvia Yu Friedman
More of Matthew’s bio: He has managed and directed tens of millions of dollars to major humanitarian portfolios impacting millions of people for the World Bank, the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.
Matthew has a unique and powerful speaking style that inspires people and helps them reach their fullest potential. Matthew provides a range of inspirational keynote speeches to teach and motivate people from all walks of life to step up and take a stand in life. He has shifted the mindsets of many, even the most resistant detractors. His is always a message of hope.
I am an award-winning inspirational and motivational speaker. Over the last 7 years, I have given more than 900 presentations including 129 keynote speeches. I have reached over 90,000 people at more than 2,000 corporations, 167 schools and 78 faith-based events. These talks have taken place in 20 nations.
Corporate Events over the last 7 years:
• Keynote Speeches: ACCAMS; American Express; Adidas; Asia Society; BNY Mellon; Bravest Conference; Crimestopper International; CSR Denmark; Elevate Conference; EY; Geographical Society; Harmony Conference; HSBC; Intercontinental Hotel; KPMG; Mandarin Oriental; McKinsey Institute; MGM; Reuters Antislavery Summit; Singapore Marketing Society; Standard Charter Bank; Stop Slavery Summit; and United Nations Asia Pacific Regional Conference.
• Corporate Headquarter Presentations: Amazon; AmeriCares; Bank of America; Commonwealth Bank of Australia Cathay Pacific; Clarks; Clover; Coca Cola; Columbia Sportswear; Crayola; David Jones; Disney; Hallmark; Kodak; Li and Fung; Lululemon; Macquarie; Mandarin Oriental; Microsoft; Nissan; Phillip Morris International; Reuters; Scotia Bank; Swire; Vatican etc.
• More than 400 articles and interviews. BBC; CNN; Forbes; Economist; National Geographic; New York Times and more.
If you would like to learn more about my speaking engagements & workshops, please contact me on LinkedIn.
“Great presentation and a refreshing change” Fleishman Hillard
“Thanks again for another informative and inspirational presentation today” Adidas-Group
“Powerful and passionate presentation” Salvation Army
Sylvia is a supporter of The Mekong Club, a leading catalyst for change, inspiring and guiding the private sector to lead in the fight against modern slavery. Led by her husband Matt Friedman, an international human trafficking expert. See Matt’s TED talk here.
#Throwback post from my blog back in 2010:
Besides writing and producing media to raise awareness, one of my passions is to bring through my consulting work various stakeholders together — such as NGOs, government, academics, volunteers, business and philanthropists — to work towards a strategic plan or social change level goals for the transformation of a region or country.
I’ve fallen madly in love with southwest China which borders Myanmar. Some of my previous consulting projects that impact SW China and other parts of the country include:
*health and care project for elderly sex slave survivors (known as ‘comfort women’) in China
*freeing sex slaves (trafficked women, prostitutes) – jewelry making business is expanding to other regions
*helping drug addicts with HIV – hope to see one great model in Kunming replicated in other parts of the country
*empowering orphans and blind people so they can live with hope and dignity (I’ve helped direct funds to these projects)
In my spare time while living in Beijing, I helped support an organization that mobilized young people from the West to impact humanitarian work and the business sector in China. In the near future, this mobilization will begin to expand to other nations in the developing world.
Some of my earthly heroes and role models: Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and my parents, especially my beautiful mother who models love and authentic faith every day. She has for more than 30 years given home-made meals, financial support and a listening ear to the sick, the poor and those in distress. My mom and dad have helped many low-income families in their community.
Site Visit Story (my trip on behalf of a philanthropist):
(Ma passed away shortly after)
Terrific website, Sylvia. Keep up the great work. All the best from Vancouver, BC. -Mike (twitter.com/mikevb27)
Sylvia! Im so proud to be able to call you one of the very few women mentors in my life who affected and transformed me as a very vulnerable young teen woman while we attended KBC together in Vancouver. I’d love to connect sometime. XO JC
Hey Joyce!! WOW, it’s amazing to hear from you! I’ll send you an email and would love to hear what you’ve been doing! I’ve been in touch with a few people from KBC… xoxo
Sylvia..Amazing work!!! Thank you for all your hard work and bringing awareness to comfort women and human rights…now that I’ve found this site I’m excited to follow you in your journey!
Thanks so much Yusula for your encouraging words! Wow, I haven’t seen you in eons. Sooo glad to hear from you!!! xoxo