Remember when women weren’t allowed to work professionally, cast votes, or open a banking account? Actually, neither do we. 😅 But the point is, we’ve come a looooong way to make the world more livable for women, and rightly so!
Though there is plenty left to be done, we’re still closer than ever to achieving complete equality! It helps that we have so many Good Samaritans who want to change our country for the better. In fact, here are six upstanding Malaysian individuals you should know about, who made A LOT of effort to aid women’s empowerment.
1. Maryam Khairul Anuar: an 11-year-old artist with a heart of gold
Despite being born with Down Syndrome, then-nine-year-old Maryam focused on honing her artistic talent with the guidance of her parents, eventually landing opportunities to showcase her works of art AND support community causes with her paintings!
She has since gathered over RM200,000 for various local charity causes, and most recently raised funds for her “Maryam Saves a Heart” (MSAH) campaign to help children get the life-saving surgery they need at the National Heart Institute (IJN).
2. Rita Santaran: Single mother / hospital cleaners’ rights advocate
Rita experienced firsthand how neglected hospital cleaners were during the pandemic when she was forced to live off RM1,000 every month and single-handedly support FOUR children. So, she stepped up to fight for her and her colleagues’ rights for better benefits, forming a workers’ union at her hospital and even became a chairperson! Rita believes that cleaners play a HUGE role in society and deserve to be treated better after all.
3. Datuk Dr. Tengku Naufal Tengku Mansor: Master of all trades
Practising lawyer, being a reputable speaker and trainer, advocating Gender Equality Awareness, doing Legal Literacy training and empowerment programmes for women – there’s nothing that Dr. Tengku Naufal doesn’t do!
Not only has he been involved in Women Development Departments and the Ministry of Women, Family & Community Development (KPWKM), but he also appears on TV frequently to advocate women’s rights. Additionally, he’s one of several male allies who spearheaded the “White Ribbon Society” to fight violence against women and protect their dignity.
4. Elizabeth Gerard: No child marriages, please
This youth advocate for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) co-founded the #NoBridesUnder18 campaign to push against child marriage in Malaysia, which has been depriving children of education.
Elizabeth has most recently been involved in Project Lilin, providing an online safe space to support Malaysian youths, especially in terms of their mental health. She also launched the #WonderfullyMade project to tackle the rise of self-objectification among Malaysian youths.
5. Ida Faranina binti Othman: Raising boss girls, rural communities & more
The State Leader of Sabah is a superbly busy woman. On one hand, Nina Othman leads the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs with the US Embassy, Arizona State University and Women Entrepreneurs Network (WENA). She spends the rest of her time instilling financial literacy amongst children and teens (via Grow the Goose), promoting ethical-sustainable farming and income for farmers (via Borneo Cocoa), and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and Micro SMEs with Love from Sabah.
6. Low Mee Li: Disability ≠ Liability
The leader of the Arts Troupe of “Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled” isn’t gonna let polio stop her from living her life! Mee Li is a passionate wheelchair-bound dancer who wishes to empower people with disabilities (PWD) with self-confidence and a sense of belonging, performing in countless festivals to show that PWDs are on par with everyone else.
Mee Li’s achievements include representing Malaysia in several International Cultural & Arts for the Disabled, and the award for the biggest number of wheelchair-bound performers by the Malaysia Book of Records in 2000.
Be Strong. Be Tenacious. Be Kind.
“Wah, we really do have so many awesome people here!” Though we hear about it every day, it’s still nice to know we have upstanding Malaysians who are willing to change our tanah air for the better, especially ones who advocate equal rights for women – they absolutely deserve recognition lah!
In fact, the six changemakers we mentioned were part of 14 recipients of the inaugural Anugerah Citra Madani, an award bestowed upon Malaysians who made exceptional contributions towards empowering women and/or specific under-represented communities.
WEM 2023 was officiated by the Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Tuan Chow Kon Yeow (centre right); Minister of Human Resources, YB Tuan V. Sivakumar (centre left); Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, YB Puan Hajah Aiman Athirah binti Sabu (second centre right).
Here are eight other recipients who deserve to be credited too:
- Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar: An eco-feminist advocating the importance of gender justice and climate change, as well as mentoring indigenous communities.
- Roshinee Mookaiah: A youth political activist who champions human rights and inclusivity in Malaysian politics, especially Indian women.
- Aida Ismail: The President of the Malaysian Women Corporate Aviation Association (WCAA) seeks to elevate women in the aviation industry via mentoring, global networking, leadership and scholarship.
- Aida Zunaidi and Wong Wei Qi: Co-founders of Ibupreneur, a digital marketplace for mothers to learn entrepreneurship skills and market their products on the platform.
- Marscella Ling: An Iban youth changemaker from Bintulu who has worked relentlessly for the empowerment of youths, especially students, nationwide.
- Prof. Madya Dr. Nurfadhlina Mohd Sharef: A passionate academician and technologist in Artificial Intelligence (AI) who led various projects related to AI and data science, and is active in mentoring other women for digital competency empowerment.
- Shaq Koyok: A contemporary artist from the indigenous Temuan tribe who fought for the land rights of his people through insightful art, while also expressing his concerns about environmental degradation and the well-being of his people.
Minister of Human Resources, YB Tuan V. Sivakumar
The Anugerah Citra Madani was awarded during the launch of TalentCorp’s WEM 2023 (Women Empowerment Month) on 12 March @ SPICE Convention Centre, Penang. Organised to coincide with International Women’s Day, WEM 2023 was designed specifically to empower women and inspire personal and professional growth via:
- Curated workshops conducted by industry leaders
- Meaningful implementation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices and policies
- Networking dinners
- Career fairs, and more!
For more info on TalentCorp’s activities or how you can be involved in making Malaysia a safer place for women, be sure to follow TalentCorp Malaysia on Facebook and Instagram.