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Gender Discrimination - Empowerment Of Women


      Throw yourself back to the 1950s somewhere in a quaint Malay village - in a kitchen of an wooden house on a stilt - a teenager, Minah has been slaving over a hot stove - pounding the sambal paste in the pestle and mortar, deep-frying the fish, stirring a pot of mutton curry - the meal for her family. Youngest child in a family of four boys, she never finishes her secondary education and has been a stay at home person ever since, tasked with the household chores while her male siblings being given every support and opportunity by her parents to pursue either further education or career. As for Minah, the next step is an arranged marriage to a local boy and be a homemaker. The end.

      The above anecdote sounds all too familiar. It is sadly how women used to be stereotyped in the old days. However a dig into the historical archive reveals that in the mid 1950s women, in then pre-independent day Malaya, did join the workforce not as corporate executive obviously but operators in factories manufacturing household goods. It was more of a necessity rather than a career choice. Back then the labour market needed badly extra manpower especially the factories that were producing wares for the armies engaging in a campaign against the communism insurgent. Consequently the women had to step in to rescue the trade while the men were at the military frontline.

      Malaysian women have nevertheless made a significant progress since Malaya gained independence in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963. The progress is noticeable and near universal, with more Malaysian women, in both absolute and relative terms, being involved in all key socio-economic areas than before in education, in health,in the economy, and in power-sharing and decision-making. The quest for greater gender equality has been relatively successful, although improvements can still be made in certain sectors. This is the conclusion made in a report entitled The Progress of Malaysian Women Since Independence 1957 - 2000 published by Ministry of Women and Family Development.

      More recently, the United Nations has listed Malaysia as a leader in encouraging women to participate in science, and half of all researchers in Malaysia are women. In addition, in 2004, the government committed to filling at least 30% of key roles in the public sector with women, and in 2017, women comprised 36% of the public-sector workforce. Also, in 2015, the government mandated that women comprise at least 30% of the boards of large corporations by 2020, making it the only country in Asean with such a directive.

      Despite these encouraging steps, women in Malaysia still face barriers. Persistent challenges facing women include the difficulties of juggling family responsibilities with paid work, traditional attitudes towards women, limited access to finances, inadequate parental leave policies and inadequate skills for the modern labour market.

      Recently, The Edge Malaysia Weekly published an article in conjunction with this year’s International Women’s Day that calls for a creation of gender-balanced working world. For the purpose of general knowledge, gender balance means creating more equitable opportunities for women, particularly at the highest levels of an organisation. While balance is important for all workers throughout an organisation, it is particularly relevant to women who — much more so than their male colleagues — are often expected to strike a balance between career building and homemaking, between bringing home a pay cheque and bringing up the children, and even between ambition and compassion. Hence measures such as flexible hours and expanded parental leave — directly improve the work-life balance of all employees, female and male. These factors can be crucial as today’s top talent, often favoured with multiple opportunities, weigh work-life balance and other aspects of happiness more keenly than previous generations in choosing and staying with their employers.

      Extra steps for instance addressing gender stereotyping, sexual harassment, lack of women in leadership roles, support for pregnant women and balancing work and care giving responsibilities, among other pressing issues should be able to advance the role of women. Legal provision such as Gender Equality Act was introduced in 2006 to protect women from discrimination through all stages of life.

      Basically to sums up Malaysian women in all aspect of life, are still to an extent still unequal to their male counterpart no matter how successful are they. But then enough said about the lamenting of women not yet on par with men. It would be better if their stories of uphill struggle in the quest of achievement and gender equality be shared around for inspiration for others.

      This woman represents a small sampling of many great women in customer service influential. The one common thread among the stories of success is that success does not come easy. Success goes hand in hand with hardship and challenges.

      Phenyline Anak Gimang, a woman with a simple name, had gone through an extraordinary life journey. She was born in a small village called Pakan, Sarikei on 16th December 1989. Since she was young, she had always been moving around with her family due to her father’s job. Her father is just an ordinary contractor and her mother works as a drink maker at coffee shop. After she finished her school, she worked as a shop helper at many shops in the shopping malls. The story began when she had to further her study at a college. She had been diagnosed with kidney failure. She is the eldest child in the family and it was a very difficult time for her family. Due to her illness, she had been rejected at interviews by many government departments and private companies including her dream job, to be a policewoman. There was only one company that was willing to accept her to work with them; the popular shopping mall in Kuching, The Spring Management. She was assigned to be a customer service officer.

      The first two years at the workplace, she had gone through a terrible kidney failure illness. She was hospitalized for many times, and lastly she was at a stage where she had to do kidney dialysis for three times a week. It was a very painful for her because she could not live like a normal person. She had to watch what she ate and drank. Sadly, the kidney failure made it difficult for her to have a baby because it would be in a high risk for both of them; her and her baby. Working as a customer service had never been easy. She had to face all types of customers’ behaviours. Not to mention that she had been underestimated by her male supervisor because she being a woman had the least ability to perform the job well. It did not bother her. She persevered and did her job well and had to juggle her weekly routine with the kidney dialysis. Luckily her company understood her situation and gave her special weekly roaster for her so that she could do her kidney dialysis easily.

      She had been complained by customers many times, condemned by her own colleagues especially male colleagues, people kept making unpleasant comment about her, but none of these could make her giving up on her job. After five years of service and due to her loyalty to the company, she was promoted to the level of executive; the position of Customer Service Supervisor. From a shop helper to an executive officer, there’s nothing that she cannot do in her life. She is the one of the strongest women alive.

      The development of women is seen as a pure pursuit of national development. There is no denying that besides the locals, foreigners who are attracted to the diversity of Malaysia, also yearn to see women, especially those who are in the local community, to be educated like those in the city. Here is a bit of a sharing about a woman who are passionate about developing women welfare, especially those who live in rural area as housewives to thrive as confident women because she believes that women, whether in rural or urban need to be confident and stands out as the powerful breadwinner of the family.

Ginette Collin, a Canadian national had an experience in life skills module as she was a former Performance Development Manager in Abu Dhabi. Leaving her career behind, she started a new adventure in Borneo together with her husband and worked as Education Consultant for schools in Malaysia. Being confident and very aware that she as an incredibly blessed woman, she felt that it was time for her to make a difference in the lives of women who needed skills & support. Therefore she starting a Non Profit Project called PurpleLily Project based in Kuching.

Ginette founded PurpleLily in May 2012. She provided the seed funding to start the organisation, developed and implemented the processes and fund raising strategy. She developed the Life Skills and Financial Literacy workshops and trained local trainers. Ginette has a background in Education, Performance Development Management and is a certified NLP Coach. She has worked and lived in various countries: Guatemala, Ecuador, Ireland, Australia, Istanbul (Turkey), Gaza (Palestinian Territories), United Arab Emirates, Kuching (Borneo) and is currently living in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). She is a published columnist for a Middle Eastern Magazine, where she wrote a Self-Development monthly column.

      PurpleLily promotes Life Skills Training that involves financial literacy, goal setting, and self-esteem. Additionally PurpleLily has a development plan known as the Livelihood Program where a selected group of women from villages are provided with technical training, funding and support to start their own small businesses. This project is based on the Ginette’s own skills, experience and passion to empower women. Her determination to make a difference in the lives of some of the local women, be it in a small or big way, has inspired other fellow expatriates and locally educated women to either involve themselves or become a volunteer serving their target group.

      After seeing the success and impact of PurpleLily Life Skills and Financial Literacy Education programme in Kuching, Ginette Collin decided to expand and reach out to women & girls in other parts of the world. Since October 2013, Ginette has adapted the workshops to suit the local culture, level of literacy and local needs. Even local languages are used in running the programs. By partnering with local grassroot NGOs, so far Ginette (and the NGOs) have successfully implemented the PurpleLily programme in Nepal, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ladakh (Northern India) and Peru. Ginette strongly believes in sustainability, hence she usually spends about 4 weeks working with the NGO. She focuses on training the local facilitators and delivering the workshops to participants.

      Picture of Purplelily Kuching team that involved local women and expatriates and activities that they conducted around Kuching with women in village and girls in schools.

      Gender discrimination, or in other words, gender inequality refers to unfair rights between male and female based on different gender roles which leads to unequal treatment in life. The term gender inequality has been widely known in human history but not until the beginning of the 20th century, the transformation of gender relations become “one of the most rapid, profound social changes” (Wright & Rogers 2009).

      For years, women have struggled to gain equality in all areas of life; from the home to the workplace and especially in positions of leadership. Despite being 50.8 percent of the population, only 14.6 percent of executive officers in companies are women, and overall, women only earn 80 cents for every dollar men make. These discrepancies are even larger among women of colour. Yet women of faith have historically played a pivotal role in challenging gender inequality and they continue to defy stereotypes in politics, the workplace and houses of worship. Women of faith are fighting for gender equality at work and in broader society; empowering young women as feminist and womanist theologians, faith community leaders, social justice advocates and elected officials.

      Feminist and womanist theologians exist in every religion, actively engaging in efforts to achieve gender equality from a perspective of faith and making clear that women’s equality and faith are not inconsistent with one another. Challenging misunderstandings or misinterpretations of religious texts that have justified segregating society along gender lines, feminist theologians have surfaced the issue of gender inequality in religious communities. For example, Native American feminist Renya Ramirez wrote an article proposing that gender equality be part of any conversation about the oppression of Native American communities, and she challenges the gender-discriminatory practices that some indigenous nations have traditionally followed. Zainah Anwar also empowers women of faith as a founding member and director of the organization Sisters in Islam, which seeks to teach gender equality through an Islamic framework. In addition, the Sikh Feminist Research Institute exists to engage the Sikh community in feminist research to understand further the causes of gender-based oppression and how to combat it.

      Over the past year, there have been numerous complaints of pervasive and persistent sexual harassment to which no industry has been immune, including faith communities. According to a recent survey, 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men experience sexual harassment at some point in their lives. Today, approximately 50 percent of refugees worldwide are women and girls seeking safety and economic opportunity in new countries. In their journeys toward refuge, they are often vulnerable to sex trafficking, in which 96 percent of victims are women and girls. Yet faith leaders such as Nadia Murad Basee Taha are fighting to ensure the safety and success of these affected communities. After escaping Islamic State captivity, Taha became a Yazidi human rights advocate and is now the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador for Human Trafficking. She has testified on the international stage to raise awareness for the disproportionate vulnerability young women face in areas of extreme violence and called on international organizations to help stop the violence against her community.


      The historical contributions and leadership of women in religious communities are paramount. While the fight for women equality has persisted for years, there remains much room for progress. Women faith leaders are defying the limitations that society has historically placed on them in houses of worship, politics, activism, and society more broadly. Moving forward, women will continue to rise in all areas of public life, and in faith communities in particular, as an integral part of the rising tide of women leadership and the continuing fight for gender equality.

      There is little doubt that gender discrimination has been a huge factor in limiting women accomplishments. There is a problem however, with any argument that relies on such across-the-board factors as sexism or gender discrimination to explain differences between men and women creative productivity: not all fields show the same degree of gender imbalance. The fact that women have succeeded at much higher levels in some fields (such as literature) than others (such as the sciences) provides ammunition to those who might wish to reject charges of gender discrimination. The relative imbalance in the success of women in different domains is hard to explain by appealing to domain-general sociocultural factors limiting women creative performance, because these forces should have similar impact across domains. This is the argument, for example, that led Vernon (1989) to reject global environmental explanations for gender differences in creativity and to look instead for biological explanations.

REFERENCE (John Baer, 2016) in Domain Specificity of Creativity

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