Being a woman in a world that is dominated by the patriarchy is not like walking on a bed of roses, yet many women have persevered and fought their way out of the toxic system. #GirlPower
Many of these women have also managed to break the mould and made history in their respective fields, especially in male-dominated ones. They made heads turn with their intelligence, strength and prowess. Plus, on top of making a name for themselves, these #girlbosses have even opened doors which were once closed to all women in Malaysia. Therefore, to show a little appreciation for them this International Women’s Day, we have listed down six badass Malaysian women who have been making waves (and inspiring everyone) across the globe!
1. Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman, Malaysia’s First Astrophysicist
This may come as a shock to many but we are quite proud that our country’s first ever astrophysicist is actually a woman. Yep, Dr Mazlan ventured into the world of astrophysicist back when the field wasn’t popular in Malaysia.
A native to Seremban, Dr Mazlan got her bachelor of Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand in 1975 under the Colombo Plan Scholarship.
Here are some amazing things Dr Mazlan has achieved:
- Dr Mazlan was the first female (in the world) to obtain a PhD in astrophysics from the same university in 1981.
- She served twice as the Director of United Nations Office For Outer Spaces Affairs (UNOOSA).
- Dr Mazlan worked with the Ministry of Defence to launch our first astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor into space.
Fun fact: She also believes in the existence of extraterrestrial beings (aka aliens) but she said that we cannot contact an intelligent life-form very easily. True that!
2. Hannah Yeoh, Politician & Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development
We all know her prowess in politics because she has been one of the most outspoken and diligent ministers in Malaysia. She also once clapped back at a netizen for “advising” her to put on some lipstick when she goes to work. That was rude of the netizen btw!
Nevertheless, Hannah graciously thanked the fellow netizen for his comment and said, “I wear (lipstick) when I feel like it and I do not want to do it because I am compelled to. Makeup does not in any way affect the quality of my work and it should not in any way affect any women in their workplace.”
You go, girl!
It’s no doubt that Hannah is loved by everyone who knows her because she is one impressive lady. So, here are some ‘power’ facts about this Wonder Woman:
- Hannah Yeoh was named one of the Young Global Leader, Class of 2018 by the World Economic Forum.
- She ran for the state seat twice (2008 & 2013) and won in both years.
- She was the youngest and first female who assumed the role of a state (Selangor) speaker in 2013. She was only 34 years old at that time!
- She wrote a biography and released it in 2015. The title of the book is “Becoming Hannah”.
Hannah Yeoh proves that she is a force to be reckoned with as she successfully balances her personal life and a gruelling career as a politician. Like all the women on this list, Hannah has earned our respect. #Salute
3. Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, Lawyer & Human Rights Advocate
Even if you’re not into politics, you would be familiar with Ambiga because she is one of the main reasons for the political revolution that we have recently experienced.
Through her very successful BERSIH marches, Ambiga and her comrades managed to raise awareness on the corrupt electoral process in Malaysia. FYI, she used to be the co-chairperson of BERSIH.
Besides just being a notable and accomplished lawyer, here are some interesting deets that you should know about this doyenne:
- She was an Advocate & Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in 1982.
- Ambiga was given the US Secretary of State Award for International Women of Courage 2009.
- The French government bestowed the Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) in 2011.
- Ambiga was the President of the Malaysian Bar from 2007 to 2009.
We can only think of one word to describe Ambiga: A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!
4. Yuna, Singer & Songwriter
Anyone who’s into music has definitely heard of Yuna, the Malaysian musician who has paved her own path in Hollywood. We are so proud of her!
Ever since she was discovered by a US Indie-Pop label, Yuna’s career as a musician in America began to thrive but it was her song “Live Your Life” that really took her career to a whole new level. FYI, “Live Your Life” was produced by Grammy award-winning producer, Pharrell Williams.
Here are four other fun facts about our favourite songbird:
- She has collaborated with famous R&B artists like Jhene Aiko (Used to Love You) and Usher (Crush).
- She was the first Malaysian artist to make it into Billboard’s Top 10 R&B and Top 20 R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for her album, Chapters.
- She was awarded the National Youth Icon Award by former prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
That said, we only wish Yuna all the best in her voyage and we hope she continues to make Malaysia proud in Hollywood.
5. Datuk Nicol David, Professional Squash Player
The name itself is a formidable force!
I think we can all agree that Nicol Ann David was the best female athlete Malaysia has ever seen. This is because she has continued to make Malaysia proud in every game she has ever played in.
While she had a passion for mathematics and wanted to become an engineer, she decided to pursue a career in squash instead, which was her other passion. Well, aren’t we glad she made that decision!
Amongst Nicol David’s many victories and titles, here are some of her achievements which we think are quite pretty kick-ass:
- She was the youngest player to win the World Junior Championship in 1999. She later won again in 2001 and became the first woman to hold the title twice.
- Nicol was the first Malaysian and Asian woman to be ranked number one in the World for women’s squash.
- In 2008, she bagged 10 titles during an undefeated season and she was named the most dominant player in squash history.
- She is also the youngest person to be given Datukship in Penang.
That said, Nicol David just announced her retirement in June 2019 after 20 years of playing squash. While we are sad to see the Iron Woman go, we wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
6. Dr Betty Sim Kim Lee, Scientist
Dr Betty may be the least famous one out of all the women in this list but trust us when we say that she is just as amazing as all the ladies here.
An alumnus of UM (University of Malaya) and an expert of her field, here are several reasons why we think that this woman, who is of Baba Nyonya descent, deserves to be on this list:
- She led the team that developed the world’s first “attenuated sporozoite” malaria vaccine, PfSPZ Vaccine. She basically saved the world from malaria!
- Dr Betty graduated with First Class Honours in Physiology and a masters in Physiology from UM.
- She did her PhD at the Department of Malaria and Filariasis at the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) under the WHO (World Health Organisation) Tropical Disease Research (TDR) scholarship.
- Dr Betty was also invited to join Harvard University as a post-doctoral fellow.
It’s safe to say that Dr Betty’s work in her field speaks volumes about her credibility as a scientist. We only hope that this incredible woman achieves more in her career. All the best, Dr Betty!
And there you have it – six amazing Malaysian #girlbosses who are basically superheroes in their respective fields! Of course, let’s not forget the unsung heroes in our lives too this #IWD and show our mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and friends some love and appreciation for all their sacrifices!
With that, we’d like to wish all the ladies out there, Happy International Women’s Day and once again, who run the world?
This never gets old! 😂
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