|On 10 March 2022, IMU Cares, the Community Engagement Office of IMU held an event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 (IIWD 2022) with a theme “Gender Equality Today for A Sustainable Tomorrow”, in line with United Nation’s Women theme for the International Women’s Day celebration this year.|
The theme focussed on diversity, equity and inclusion through enhancement of the capacity across multiple stakeholders including community-based organisations, NGOs, corporate organisations, university and general public for a more sustainable future for all, whilst building capacities of women and girls who are leading the charge. The event saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between IMU with the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and UNIQLO Malaysia, to formalise a collective effort to enhance the capacity of women towards building resilience through a tailored programme called “Digital Literacy and Entrepreneurship for Women Programme” which will be carried out for six months in the first instance. Prof Abdul Aziz Baba, the Vice Chancellor & CEO of IMU together with Evelyn Tan, Sustainability Director of UNIQLO Malaysia and Sumitra Visvanathan, Executive Director of WAO officially launched the partnership.
The programme is in line with IMU’s goal to create partnerships and opportunities across multiple stakeholders, integrate learning and development for the needs of the communities and drive social change for a sustainable future. The programme will also involve IMU staff and students as well as UNIQLO’s staff as volunteers, providing a platform for all to improve coaching skills as well as to increase awareness about gender equality issues.
“Digital technology helps to enhance social and economic resilience in the face of the COVID-19. However, those who are in the underprivileged group may not have the fundamental skills. Lack of digital literacy skills remain the greatest key barriers to internet adoption and to the development of the digital economy, particularly for women and girls.”
“Therefore, in our vision for “IMU as the Pulse of the Community” we at the university have important roles to work with communities to build their resilience for a more equitable and inclusive society” said Prof Aziz Baba, Vice-Chancellor of IMU. In support of the theme, Evelyn Tan added, “For UNIQLO, the theme of “Gender Equality for a Sustainable Tomorrow” is a theme that is close to our hearts as equality and sustainability are two important threads deeply stitched into the fibre of our own global organisation. We want to see women enjoy infinite possibilities and we believe in a world that enables women to live their own way and cherish their true values”. “As a provider of case management support to survivors, WAO has seen countless women who are held back due to a lack of social capital and financial hardship. Through a women-initiated approach in this partnership, we are creating an ecosystem of support and a place of belonging in the digital space. Digital skills can elevate economic status and build emotional resilience through online peer support. We are excited for this unique and impactful partnership to drive women’s empowerment.” said Sumitra Visvanatha, Executive Director of WAO. In a forum that followed, Sumitra Visvanathan and Jernell Tan of All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) shared their views on gender equality roles in building a sustainable future. The forum was moderated by Raja Shahkeerah, a fourth year medical student at IMU.
More than 60 participants including IMU staff and students together with community partners, joined the event. Women from the various community partners showcased some of their community-based initiatives. This includes Kachin Refugee Learning Centre, Community Transformation Initiative (CTI), Cancer Research Malaysia (CRM), WAO and others. The event marks an important milestone for IMU in its sustainability initiative for People, Planet and Society and leaving no one behind. Brought together by IMU Cares, the university-community partnership continues to build communities for a better, equitable tomorrow. Starting 2021, IMU Cares has ramped up its efforts to advocate for women in need such as creating sustainable livelihoods for women in need, women suffering from domestic abuse and supporting women and girls leading change. For that we are grateful to sponsors such as MSIG, Hovid Sdn Bhd and NES Synthesis as well as Riding Pink for their support as champion these causes together. Written by Dr Leong Hui Yen, office of Community Engagement at IMU.