Ten years ago, two ladies, practising gynaecologist Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar and Yip Siew Keen, saw the need to start a service to help women in crisis in Perak. This need resulted in the birth of Perak Women For Women Society (PWW), an apolitical, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, whose objectives are to: offer emotional and social support to women and their children, who suffer from mental, physical and/or sexual abuse, provide temporary refuge services to such women and children, undertake and advocate the eradication of factors that contribute to the inequality and subordination of women through law, policy and institutional reforms, and create awareness and better understanding among individuals, the public and relevant agencies, on issues of violence against women and the underlying inequalities.
Believing that the best long-term solution to help marginalised women is through education, the society has, at the beginning of this year, started a weekly pre-school programme in Kg Pos Woh in Tapah. The programme provides not only pre-school classes for young Orang Asli children but also tuition and mentoring for primary school children. Learning materials are provided free-of-charge. Volunteers take this opportunity to feed the children with nutritious food. This ongoing project benefits over 70 children weekly.
The society also organises outreach programmes where volunteers visit schools in Perak to educate students, especially girls, about personal safety and respect. As a society, PWW has made great progress in recent years. It publishes its own bulletin called, SuaraNita since 2009 and operates its own service and information centre.
In 2010 it joined the Joint Action Group For Gender Equality, a coalition comprising women’s human rights groups, which diligently document, monitor and lobby for law and policy reforms on women’s rights. The following year it became a member of the South East Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN, a network of more than 60 organisations in 11 countries that advocate women’s rights.
Last year was the society’s turning point. It established a temporary shelter for women in crisis, made possible with financial support from a Kuala Lumpur philanthropist.
Over the ten years PWW has faced many challenges, the biggest being monetary in nature. The society requires at least RM100,000 a year to conduct programmes and activities. Without any government funding, PWW finds the going tough. However, with financial support from individuals and well-wishers it has managed to keep afloat.
To mark its 10th Anniversary, the society is organising a charity dinner themed, “A Many-Splendoured Nite”. Malaysian Jazz Queen, Dato’ Sheila Majid, will entertain guests with her jazzy hits.
Tickets for the dinner, to be held at Kinta Riverfront Hotel, Ipoh on Saturday, April 6, are priced at RM100, RM150 and RM200 each. It is an important fund-raising initiative to support PWW’s efforts.
The society’s immediate concern, however, is the lack of committed volunteers. Membership, with an annual fee of RM10, is open to all women 18 years and above. Men are also encouraged to volunteer their skills and services. The society hopes to see the formation of a men’s wing in the near future. Other plans in the pipeline include internship for university students and joint research on social health, humanity or psychology for Master’s or PhD students.
Women who require counselling can call the centre at 05-546 9715 or e-Counselling by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Personal counselling is also available at the PWW Service Centre at 52, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, 31400 Ipoh.
For more information, log on to PWW’s website at http://www.pww.org.my/ or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Perak-Women-For-Women-Society-PWW/215564111873471.