Traditionally, women in marginalised communities play a role in homemaking duties. But their multi-tasking capabilities is more than just ensuring food is on the table and laundry folded for the rest of the household.
The needs and the voices of the marginalised women have often been secondary. Given the right avenue, women are a force to be reckoned with. They are the secret weapon valuable to economic prosperity and educating the younger generation. With better opportunities provided for the marginalised communities through economic empowerment, education and training, the potentials for the traditional homemakers are insurmountable.
It comes as no surprise when women are mostly involved in empowering other women. After all, only a woman can fully understand the plights of another woman. When banded together, their voices are resonating loud for the changes that they aim to see in the community.
We have highlighted nine women on the ground that are steady with their cause of ensuring women from marginalised communities are not left behind, either by providing economic opportunities or fighting for their rights.
Celine Lim, Manager at SAVE Rivers
Originating from the Kayan tribe in Sarawak, the plight of womenfolk in the indigenous communities is close to her heart. Recently installed as the manager of SAVE Rivers, an organisation that aims to ensure the rights of the indigenous communities living near the Baram river are protected.
Read Celine’s story here.
Suriani Kempe, Co-Founder of Family Frontiers
Through her involvement in Family Frontiers, Suriani Kempe had created a landmark ruling that allowed Malaysian mothers to confer their citizenship to their children. That’s not all, Suriani is also the co-founder of Queer Lapis, a platform that amplifies the voices of the marginalised LGBTQI+ community in Malaysia.
Datin Wira Goh Suet Lan, President of Woman of Will (WoW)
Datin Wira Goh Suet Lan has always been passionate about championing women’s rights. She has volunteered in multiple causes for women as well as All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO). When offered to lead Tech Outreach (before it was known as WoW), she took it in her strides and transformed the organisation. To date, WoW’s has transformed the lives of over 2,000 mothers in 25 different communities.
Read Datin Wira Goh’s story here.
Ivy Josiah, Convener of Malaysia’s Women Tribunal
The best job for Ivy Josiah is fighting for women’s rights alongside other amazing women. Witnessing apparent injustice only propels her to correct the injustice. Her desire to correct the wrongs in the world brought her to lead one of Malaysia’s pioneering women’s rights organisations. Now, she took on the role of the Convener of Malaysia’s Women Tribunal, an alternative form of providing justice to women.
Davina Devarajan & Arissa Jemaima Ikram, Co-Founders of Women For Refugees
Both Davina Devarajan and Arissa Jemaima Ikram are testaments that age shouldn’t be a marker when it comes to giving back to society. The duo who have been actively involved in volunteering set their heart on providing basic literacy classes for womenfolk in the refugee community. There have been a set of challenges when serving the marginalised group, but the overnight transformation an education had done to the women-only fuelled them to uplift the community.
Read Arissa and Davina’s story here.
Jacqueline Fong, Co-Founder of Tanoti Crafts
It has been a relentless 10 years in the social enterprise business and empowering the lives of Sarawakian weavers. The venture of two friends, Jacqueline Fong and Dr June Ngo, Tanoti Crafts, had grown tremendously and had won multiple awards acknowledging their roles in amplifying the lives of the native communities and their handicrafts. Jacqueline Fong believes there’s more to be done to develop the long-forgotten sector in Malaysia.
Ann Wong, Chairperson of Penan Women Project
Ann Wong’s involvement in the Penan Women Project stemmed from her need to do something outside of her role as a mother to newly-born twins. She met Shida Mojet, founder of Miri Women Weaving Association (MWWA). Since then, Shida had passed the baton to Ann following her family’s relocation to The Netherlands. Equipped with a passion for arts and design also to improve the lives of Penan women, Ann Wong helmed PWP and took the traditional handicraft to the next level.
Read Ann’s story here.
Yap Sue Yii, Founder of Komuniti Tukang Jahit
Yap Sue Yii stumbled into the world of social enterprises in 2018. Komuniti Tukang Jahit (KTJ) was born out of an operational issue on her fashion start-up business Royal Demure. KTJ became the solution to her problem and also resolved the financial dilemmas of homemakers from the B40 communities. KTJ has evolved over the years and focuses on producing handicrafts at a larger scale for corporate events and the tourism market.
Cover images are sourced from: - Prestige. Yap Sue Yii. Link - Tatler Asia. Ivy Josiah. Link - K.Goon. (2020).Ann Wong. Womenpreneur Asia. Link - Prestige Women. Davina Devarajan & Arissa Jemaima Ikram. Link - J.Chan. (2020). Adapting, name of the business game. The Star. Link - Z.Ar. (2014). Muslim women’s group to challenge fatwa against liberalism, pluralism. Malay Mail. Link - Celine Lim's personal archive