Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Coalition of Women Organisations (KLSCWO) collaborate to advocate women’s rights in MalaysiaPublished on 23 November 2021
Over the years, we have seen a lot of movement and change for women in the social sphere. One simply cannot deny the progress women rights activists have made to ensure that women are not discriminated against in the workplace and defenceless against abuse.
However, based on recent statistics alone, we can see that Malaysia still has a long way to go. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Coalition of Women’s Organisations (KLSCWO) sees this and has taken up the challenge to meet the call.
The task of women empowerment is not a unique one. There has been much effort made throughout the years to ensure that the voice of women is not drowned out through formulating strategies to combat institutionalised injustice against women. This task requires professionals, laypersons and just about anybody that can and will lend their efforts to the cause.
“Empowerment doesn’t stop at simply giving power to women. It requires touching all bases of a woman’s life, from her children to her partner and even to those around her,” remarked Anita Aqeela Hiong, President of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Coalition of Women’s Organisations, Malaysia (KLSCWO). Anchored in education and awareness, KLSCWO advocates for the rights of girls, women, and children across every aspect of their lives.
Bridging the gap between intention and results
Anita understands that good intentions can fall flat in the face of real results. “It isn’t to say that one’s effort doesn’t matter. The reality is that there must be strategic execution and careful consideration when empowering and advocating for women!”
As such, there must be coordinated advocacy efforts operating at multiple levels, across sectors, over time and with partners whether private or government. KLSCWO bridges that gap by acting as the bridge and bridge-builder between diverse parties to ensure that help, assistance and, more importantly, legislation can cover all women.
As long as the non-governing body (NGO) has a women wing whose mission is just that, they are given membership under the state’s respective women organisation as well as with the parent organisation that is the National Council of Women’s Organisation Malaysia (NCWO).
Regardless of ethnicity and religion, those who seek to make a change for the common goal of improving a woman’s quality of life can function as one body under the wing of KLSCWO, contributing their expertise to run welfare programmes, upskilling workshops, or lobbying for rights.
Education is key to empowerment
One can only be empowered when they can make an informed decision. Most misogyny or lack of empathy towards women can be traced back to institutionalised discrimination against women.
“It isn’t that you were born to hit a girl or laugh at her when she’s in pain, this attitude has been so deeply ingrained into our society and culture that it becomes normal and even right to behave as such.”
KLSCWO efforts do not stop at fundraising for B40 women or lobbying for their rights. It goes beyond what is expected of them to also run programmes and workshops for children and men.
Although most of their efforts go into assisting underprivileged women who are barely making ends meet while having to care for their families, KLSCWO has extended their initiatives to educating men on their role as a partner, a father, and a brother to women.
Change and improvement in the women’s movement cannot merely stem from women who are marginalised to begin with, it must be a collective effort of all parties whether it is in advocacy, lobbying or simply to treat them equally.
“The price of ignorance is too great to dismiss. Can we really say that we’ve done our part when all we’re doing is to tell women that they’ve got to be the ones to fend for themselves? We want to create a community of people that can respect and care for each other, to lift one another up in the face of injustice or hardship.”
Are you game?
As with any NGOs, KLSCWO faces its fair share of trials and tribulations.
“Malaysia going into lockdown during the pandemic does not mean that underprivileged women finally get a break from their hardships. Quite the contrary, we had to double our efforts whether it be through providing for their needs or running workshops as the pandemic has hit the B40 group exceptionally hard.”
There is a call going out for those with a heart for the cause of women. Whether it is through monetary support or physical assistance, Anita sincerely asks for the Malaysian public to look at their neighbours and care for them.
“There is a saying I live by, ‘bless thine neighbour’, and I truly believe in that. Empowering change isn’t always a grand act or sacrifice, it’s as simple as reaching out to the people around you.”