The Incredible Women of Malaysia

The International Women Day falls on March 8 every year. The day is meant to celebrate every woman in the world; both known and unknown. Held first in 1914, the day also marks the contribution done by women in various fields including socio-economy, politics, art, sports and more. According to world-renowned journalist, feminist and social-political activist, Gloria Steinem, Women’s Day is a day to commemorate not just one but all women who face struggles in their life, “A woman’s struggles for equality is a story that belongs to no one neither anyone. It is a collective effort of all who care about human rights,” added Steinem.

Women have been playing major roles in shaping the world we are in today. For example, in Vietnam, women were one of the bigger groups that helped Vietnam gain its independence in 1945; in fact, there is a section in the Vietnam Women’s Museum in Hanoi dedicated to the contribution made by women in Vietnam.

Although there is still no women’s museum yet, it is hard to deny women’s significant work in molding what Malaysia has become today. Women in Malaysia are slowly making their name around the world with achievements in various fields.

Take Datuk Nicol Ann David for example. The eight-time World Champion for Squash has proven to the world that all it takes to reach the top is hard work, dedication and focus. Not only is she the first Malaysian to win the Malaysian Open Squash Championship and British Open, Nicol  also became the first Asian woman to ever reach the World No.1 spot. Nicol went to promote women’s squash during the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca; Women’s Squash tournament in South America that coincides with International Women’s Day this year.

“It is important for all girls and women that in any field, doesn’t matter if it’s in sports or your everyday life, to set our mind to nothing but greatness,” said Nicol.

Another highly influential woman in Malaysia is Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, the eldest daughter of Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad. Not only did she excel in various fields including becoming the president of the Malaysian AIDS Council for more than ten years, she also has been writing in her biweekly column called Musings in The Star newspaper since 1989. Marina also has authored many amazing reads such as “Hidden Voices: True Malaysia Experience of AIDS”, “50 Days: Rantings”, “In Liberal Doses” and more.

It is hard not to mention the Ipoh-born girl, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh in the list of successful women in Malaysia. The international film star who has been acting in more than 40 films and series including the highly anticipated show among sci-fic fans, Star Trek: Discovery as Captain Georgiou scheduled to air this year. During an interview, Michelle stressed the importance to empower women to believe they can do things without men, “It is personal to me to make sure that young girls are able to see and feel that nothing can hold them back,” said Michelle.

Ranked in the top ten central bank governors of the world, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is the first and only woman to have been appointed as governor of Bank Negara. She has become one of the remarkable corporate women in the world when she successfully pulled Malaysia out from the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, thanks to her incredible meticulous strategies and vast knowledge in finance and business. Her powerful moves are still being recalled over and over again in all her interviews, the issue and her tactics in controlling the matter are being praised including in the CNBC Exclusive Interview with her on January 22 last year.

And the list doesn’t just stop with these incredible women. Over the years, we have seen news of more and more Malaysian women making the rounds and leaving traces of successful stories and contributions. Such as Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan when she became one of eight recipients of the US International Women of Courage in 2009 and YB Teresa Kok Suh Sim when she co-founded the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) that promotes freedom and education of democratic process for the people of Myanmar and more.

With this long list of successful women in Malaysia, it is our deepest hope that more women would step up and be brave to achieve their dreams. Quoting Lupita Nyong’o when she won Best Supporting Actress in 2014, “No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid,”. So what are you waiting for? Chase your dream!

Ili Aqilah

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