Annually, on the 8th of March, women around the world are celebrated for their perseverance in breaking barriers, for rising against the status quo and for their infinite love and care to the less fortunate. This International Women’s Day, we have highlighted nine women in the impact industry empowering other women; through providing means of income or through their fight for equal rights.
Ivy believes that she has the best job in the world working for women and with women. Their stories, their lived realities, both painful and inspiring, have kept her motivated. Every time she encounters injustice towards women, her rage will give way to a desire to correct the injustice.
Ivy Josiah is a feminist activist and she began her work as a pioneer volunteer of the notable Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO). An organisation that shelters battered women and provides childcare for the children of women who sought shelter [1,2]. At that time, no law recognised domestic violence as a crime, no law to protect the survivors of violence within the family in Malaysia. As an active member cum volunteer she held the position of President of WAO and then went on to work full time with WAO as the first Executive Director, holding the position from 1996 to 2014.
Her work as the former president and executive director for more than 15 years saw the development and implementation of various types of services at the shelter including innovative advocacy initiatives to promote gender equality. The conversation on domestic violence has been more vibrant in the community, thanks to the continuous effort of women’s rights groups such as WAO.
Through WAO’s joint advocacy and public education with other women’s organisations, the Domestic Violence Act in 1994 was passed and Malaysia became the first Muslim country to recognise domestic violence as a crime. In 2001, the Federal Constitution was amended with the inclusion of Article. 8 (2) stating that there shall be no discrimination based on gender.
With more women in Malaysia rising to the challenge in women’s rights advocacy, such as the Family Frontiers initiative contesting discrimination when it comes to the rights of conferring citizenship, it is a testament that women are no longer sitting still in the face of injustice.
Women have not sat quietly, watching or experiencing discrimination. They will walk that extra mile to seek justice, and now they are aided by social media platforms which have become a powerful advocacy tool. – Ivy Josiah, Convener of Malaysia’s Women’s Tribunal in 2021
She recently took on the task of the Convener of the Women’s Tribunal in 2021. The Tribunal is a joint effort of various women organisations to provide hard evidence where law and enforcement have failed to protect women. Last year on 27th and 28th November, the Tribunal heard from 26 women from diverse backgrounds and from all over Malaysia providing testimonies and their bravery to come forward is the first of many steps to reimagine justice.