WOMEN'S WRITE
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22/05/2020 06:29 PM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.

By Tulips Movement

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 is on achieving gender equality, and empowering all women and girls, by ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. With such a big goal, how can we play our part?

It took one man, Badrie Abdullah, to have a vision and bring a group of professional women to help other women. Tulips Movement (TM) was formed with two advisors and seven council members with the aim to unleash the potential of women and empower them to grow, connect and take on challenges they face in today’s world, which sadly still practises discrimination.

A simple study revealed that while there were many associations and support groups for professional women, the vulnerable, those with lower income, introverts and small women entrepreneurs lacked support and that sense of belonging to somewhere. Thus the TM saw the need to fill in the gaps and build the bridge to connect the professionals to those women out there via various ways and means.

1. Through strong Collaboration Partners

No movement or organisation can successfully reach great heights on its own. There is a necessity to have partnerships with other organisations to carry out the mission to encourage and empower women.

In May 2020, TM successfully collaborated with United Nations Global Compact Movement Malaysia (UNGC) to shed some light on the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality. The current pandemic is widening the gap on inequality and to address this situation, a panel of strong women from TM including the UNGC New York representative was brought together to lead a discussion on the role of women in a post-COVID-19 world, and the challenges that will arise. The partnership will be continued to educate Malaysians in particular on SDG5: Gender Equality through events and activities.

When the MCO took place, the TM saw a need to address the issue of women coping at home with work, family and household chores, the roles the men needed to play and the overall support and understanding for both genders. Mercer Malaysia sponsored the Jom Sembang session that saw more than 100 participants virtually listen-in and engage with five panellists, all professionals shedding positive light on the current darkness with the pandemic.

Having strong collaborations enables the TM to reach out to a larger audience and break the silence on various topics, beneficial to women in general. Successful collaborations showcase the strength of each while having mutual respect and a consensus on the goal of gender equality.

2. By starting at the grassroots

Gender equality does not only belong among large organisations and as a line item among corporate goals. It starts at the grassroots, it starts in our homes. Women from underprivileged backgrounds are more likely to be subjected to inequality, especially in terms of access to education and gainful employment. While there is much done in education, we strongly believe in engaging the mothers and women who have earning potential to consider taking up employment or setting up a business.

Recent United Nations data show that women devote roughly three times more hours a day to unpaid care and domestic work than men. This limits the time for paid work, education etc., therefore further reinforcing the gender-based socio-economic disadvantages. To this end, we have facilitated four separate discussion sessions on new business ideas for women living in government housing development and motivated them to explore other opportunities to gain additional income.

By reaching these pockets of society, we can provide the much-needed empowerment for women to make positive contributions to their family, gain confidence, and give back to society as well potentially reduce their dependence.

3. Mentorship

In difficult times, we rely upon strong leaders for support, guidance and inspiration. The same goes for empowering women and unleashing their potential. At the TM, we believe that women should be mentored both professionally and personally. A mentor keeps us focused while providing perspective, even while facing tough personal issues. Plenty of women have found it daunting to take the next step in their careers, opening businesses, or even in making a career comeback. Having a mentor (particularly male) boosts confidence and encourages women to take charge and go after leadership roles. These mentors can also open new networks and connections for advancement.

Besides a mentor, a strong network that champions you is essential. This could be a group of friends or a movement that believes in you and what you are capable of. It’s this way the TM women are a rare breed with different backgrounds but support you all the same.

Above and beyond all is to understand that simple words can make a lot of difference, passing no judgement or even considering first would I say this to a man would go a long way in empowering women. Women would go far ahead and break the barriers when nurtured and cultivated on the right path.

While we may all have different ideas on empowering women, having a great deal of respect for one another, putting the goal first means we have already won the first battle. Having different personalities is inevitable when starting a movement, but it is this very fact that makes it that much stronger, especially when they toe the line and collectively make decisions for the mission.

To learn more about the TM activities, please follow us on www.tulipsmovement.org.

-- BERNAMA

Tulips Movement is a women-centred Malaysian based Community Interest Company (CIC) that enhances the dignity and quality of life of individuals and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need to unleash their potential and grow. The Tulips partner with government agencies and other not for profit community-centric organisations, universities and colleges, international organisations and charitable foundations to upskill women and youth through community capacity building, empowerment and transformational programmes.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)

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