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.
Datin Wira Goh Suet Lan has been actively involved in championing women’s rights volunteering for women-related causes during her university days in Canada and upon her return to Malaysia, at All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) and Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO). Initially, she was a volunteer tele-counsellor at Tech Outreach (before it was known as Women of Will – WoW).
She felt inspired by the beneficiaries consisting of women from various backgrounds while working as a business coach at Tech Outreach. She took up the challenge when offered to lead and rebranded the organisation in 2016 to Women of Will (WoW).
WoW’s purpose is to provide financial injection through various grants to their beneficiaries to become self-sustaining households. The target of reaching out to marginalised women such as single mothers is admirable as 49% of single mothers depend on daily wages for their income. And female-led households were badly affected during the pandemic .
The transformation of WoW includes the introduction of a community fund in which the loan repayments became a revolving fund. Thus far, WoW has benefitted over 1,000 women in various PPR areas through financial aid and entrepreneurial training to grow their businesses.
It isn’t just economic empowerment that WoW is seeking. Single mothers are also trained and given business coaching to boost their personal and career development.
Over time, the women develop in confidence – they stand taller, speak louder and voice their opinions. It warms our hearts to see this transformation, every time. This impacts the rest of the family as well, the mothers become strong role models for their children and their community. – Datin Wira Goh Suet Lan, president of Woman of Will (WoW)
A handful of women are also selected and groomed as community leaders in WoW programmes. The chosen community leaders are further groomed in leadership skills and they become role models to those they are helping.
The community leaders organised aid distribution, extended emotional and mental support to the women they were reaching out to and helped set up a Community Sewing Centre to produce PPEs during the pandemic lockdown. Just with this programme, WoW worked with 39 women from 11 communities.
Despite the multiple roles they already hold; a breadwinner, a mother and a homemaker, they have no hesitation to add onto their plate the role of a community leader or official roles within their community. As a result, they are elevating the visibility of women creating change in their environments and fostering positive role modelling.– Datin Wira Goh Suet Lan, president of Woman of Will (WoW)
The impact of empowering women is enormous and it doesn’t stop at just one woman. Essentially when women are empowered, their families benefit and the positive ripple effects continue onto their community circles. A woman who can care for herself is ultimately in a better position to care for her family and her community.