EMPOWER recognises that the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality is closely linked to the kind of leadership that is forged in Malaysia. Gender-sensitive and gender-responsive leadership must cut across all genders. However, it is women who best understand and appreciate women’s experiences of human rights violations. History has also shown that it is women policy makers who push for changes in laws and policies that will protect and promote women’s rights, especially in relation to gender-based violence and discrimination. Unfortunately, even though Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1995, the government has yet to successfully attain 30% of women’s substantive participation in decision-making, especially in women’s political representation.
EMPOWER recognises that women must be encouraged and supported to vote and to take on decision-making roles in all levels of politics, be it at village, local or at national level. EMPOWER therefore works towards creating enabling spaces and opportunities so that the women that we work with are better able to locate their problems within a human rights framework and identify potential solutions and resources that they can develop or tap, while building their self-confidence to engage in processes and mechanism that they might have initially shied away from due to their perceived inequalities of entitlements, gender roles and stereotyping. Our rights-based approach is not only premised on the needs of those we work with and the human rights violations they face, but in raising their consciousness too of the universality, inalienability and indivisibility of human rights. The women we work with come from all walks of life, from grassroots activists and community leaders to women politicians, and cuts across ethnicity, religion, age, political affiliations, gender identity and sexuality.
We conduct three types of training under our Women’s Political Participation Programme.
Menjana Kuasa Wanita
Menjana Kuasa Wanita training programme has trained over 600 potential candidates for elected office. It is aimed to enhance the awareness level and skills of potential candidates, with the objectives as follows:
Build potential women leaders’ capacity through knowledge and skills building workshops.
Mentor potential women leaders to internalise, deepen and sharpen what they learned from the training.
Enable these women to debate and discuss issues, deal with media and develop other vital leadership skills.
Menjana Kuasa Wanita is a high impact and highly scalable training programme specially tailored to empower women leaders. We are always on the look for hosts or sponsors. To support or participate in Menjana Kuasa Wanita, please contact info[at]empowermalaysia[dot]org.
EMPOWER has conducted CEDAW workshops for State Assembly representatives, people with hearing disabilities, Orang Asli women, and university students. The training focuses on women’s personal experiences and equips them with political knowledge. National and international standards of human rights and experiences of human rights violations are explored with the trainees to deepen their critical thinking and improve their skills at advancing a women’s rights agenda.
Strategic Political Campaign Planning
Women candidates have very little support or financial aid when it comes to running their campaigns. Often, instead, it is political parties who rely on these women’s capacities to pull in the votes. These are major challenges for women political candidates, and EMPOWER recognises that a good campaign plan for any political race- large or small – needs to incorporate a number of key components, not only a reasonable budget, but have a strategy in how a woman can position her candidacy and allocate resources to maximize her strengths and minimize her weaknesses. This is where EMPOWER’s expertise comes in.