Malaysia has a long way to go in terms developing women' leadership. Despite having ratified CEDAW in 1995, Malaysian women's political participation is one of the most abysmal in South East Asia at less then 10 %. The government has not made much head way in terms of legislative reform or capacity building. Women in Malaysia are wooed with promises of more programme and the 30% quota every time the elections come around. Unfortunately, it is forgotten as soon as the elections are over. Women need to understand that the government of the day has a huge impact on their daily lives. Therefore they need to speak through the ballot box and demand for what is rightfully theirs.

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Thank you for sharing this information about women's equality and political participation in Malaysia. I would love to hear more about grassroots initiatives women in your country are involved in to increase equality, and specifically what you're working on through your organization.

And I do hope that you consider applying for Voices of Our Future citizen journalism and empowerment training program, as it would be so exciting to have representation from Malaysia in our program!

In friendship, Jade

Dear Jade,

Thank you for the encouragement and for the interest in the work that I do. Our programme is very focused on providing support and guidance to the work we work with. It may be as simple as helping them identify a pressing issue in their community, for instance: poor municipal services. Women know when something is amiss in their community. They have networks within the community with other women which helps them develop a keen understanding of problems which are prevalent. The next steps is to help them develop their ability to analyze issues at the community level. The tipping point for women is usually when they are able connect/link issues and its effects directly to their families. It is important that we invest the time and resources to train the women to develop a deeper understanding why their participation matters and to link it to their rights and democracy. Nevertheless, the hand-holding needs to go on indefinitely until the women are able to manage on their own. Eventually, the women take on issues which affect them not only as members of a community but also as women.

There is much to do and my organization is the only one working on this issue in my country. Look forward to sharing with you in the future.

Regards Jana

Hi Jana,

Thank you for elaborating on the specific work that you're doing to empower Malaysian women to take action in making a change from the family level to the community level. It must feel a heavy responsibility to be the sole organization working in this capacity in your country, and somewhat isolated at times. So I hope that this global community of peers - other women leaders like yourself working to empower women locally in their own communities - can provide support, advice, best practices, and solidarity for you and the important and admirable work that you do. Let me know if you'd like me to make any introductions, and I am happy to do so! I know that this community has a lot to learn from your knowledge and experiences as well.

In admiration and support, Jade