Happy International Women’s Day

It was International Women’s Day on 8 March. Coincidentally, it also marked the 4th anniversary (this year, anyway) of that great ‘political tsunami’ that hit Malaysian waters in 2008, when the opposition finally denied long-ruling coalition BN the two-thirds majority that it always had. But that’s talk for another day.

Today, we talk about International Women’s Day. We talk about celebrating the wonderful women in our lives that have inspired us, because this year’s theme happens to be “Women: Girls. Inspire now”. Women should be inspiring girls, be their mentors, share your experiences, inspire them to be good, to be better. And get inspired by them in return.

I was at the launching of International Women’s Day at Pavilion on that day. The organisers had invited Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir to be the guest of honour in launching this particular event. While she is definitely not the only woman in Malaysia who has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to many, she is most surely one of the more popular ones.

Of course, Marina is more known for her being Dr Mahathir’s daughter. Not that she had a choice in this, but being the daughter of the longest-serving prime minister of Malaysia does come with perks. And I, for one, am glad she used those perks to do the good that she is doing.

Marina is well-known, of course, for her work with helping people living with HIV. She is also much loved for supporting Sisters in Islam, and Sexualiti Merdeka, though I reckon there are those who oppose her support in these areas. But this is what is most inspiring about her. She throws her support behind what she believes in, and she will have no one tell her otherwise.

Nurul Izzah, daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, is also an inspiration. She’s young, she’s fiery and she’s passionate about the politics of this country. She’s been through good times when her father was still in government, and then she went through shame and all other bad things associated with shame when her father was thrown out of the same government and slapped with accusation after accusation.

She went through all that, and came out on top. She inspires people, young people, to be strong and to stay strong even when the odds are against you. She inspires people to be passionate about the things they believe in, and to be vocal about it. Say it out loud. Be brave to stand up for what you believe to be true.

There are plenty, plenty of other women, both locally and internationally, who have, and continue to inspire us today. There are plenty of men who inspire us too, but let’s leave them for some other time. Today, we talk about the women.

We see them in sports. Nicol David, star squash player, inspired us to strive for the best that we have in us, and to work hard to get what we want. Shalin Zulkifli, international bowling champion, inspired us that we could fight on par with the males, as equals, and still come up on top. Leong Mun Yee, national diver, inspired us that sometimes, being small is a gift in itself and that we can find strength in all of our attributes.

We see them in the arts. We have Siti Nurhaliza, so famous for her heart-wrenching songs. We also have Yuna, who’s known for her velvety voice that is so unique, coupled with her guitar playing. Then we have Angelica Lee Sin-Jie, who’s won awards for her superb acting.

We see them closer to home. We have our mothers, our grandmothers, our wives, our sisters and cousins and friends. We see inspiration where we want to, if we want to.

So we don’t have our first female Prime Minister. And we don’t have 50% representation in Parliament. And there will be advocates who will continue to fight for that for us. But in the meantime, we inspire each other. We inspire the next stranger we meet to register as a voter if he/she hasn’t yet. We inspire the people we love to go out and vote. We inspire those around us to stand up and be counted.

Inspire to be inspired.


One Comment on “Happy International Women’s Day”

  1. Suri Kempe says:

    i love this piece, and in particular the way you ended it🙂


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