Cover Dr Jezamine Lim is a leading woman in Malaysia's STEM community

Kate Spade New York shares the voices of women in Malaysia who are challenging inequality and adversity on a daily basis to make a real difference in the world

This International Women's Day campaign by the lifestyle brand, known for its bright and colourful designs, brought in five inspiring Malaysian women to a fashionable photo shoot in Kate Spade's latest Spring 2021 collection. They were photographed by Amanda Tan, Malaysian photographer and founder of Cxpturing Souls Studios, who shared: “It was a treat to be shooting and interacting with an all-female team that demonstrates the strength and know-how of women.”

Read more about these women who share a common goal of helping others, their individual journeys to success and the advice they have for those who look up to them. 

See also: Bonia Teams Up With Inspiring Malaysian Women For International Women's Day

Dato’ Shyamala Alagendra, international lawyer

After serving as the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions of Fiji, Dato’ Shyamala Alagendra currently holds the position of Gender and Child Rights Adviser to the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM). 

"International Women’s Day is a global moment for both men and women to reflect on how our actions and our decisions have moved us closer to a more equal society for all genders, and away from discrimination,” she said.

“When we see injustice and inequality, we should seek to stop it, speak up against it, and applaud and join those who choose to challenge such injustice by word and deed."

See also: Trailblazers: To' Puan Gunn Chit Wha, One Of The First Female Lawyers In 1950s Malaya

Heidy Quah, human rights advocate and founder of Refuge For The Refugees

“This day is a strong marker of the strength of womanhood, a day in the year to reflect on all that women have survived, changed, and will continue to change," says Heidy Quah, founder of Refuge For The Refugees. "I celebrate the refugee women and victims of trafficking that I work with closely—their strength and resilience inspire me to keep being bold and courageous in speaking up against injustice. Their grit and grace in navigating adversaries inspire me to continue to #choosetochallenge systems and structures that silence, oppress, and exploit vulnerable communities.”

See also: Charity Campaign, Move For Hope Brings KL's Top Fitness Instructors Together To Help Refugee Children

Dr Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, international trauma psychologist

One of the six psychologists in the entire history of the Young Global Leaders programme at the World Economic Forum and the youngest chair of Amnesty International Malaysia, Dr Anjhula Mya Singh Bais's career at the service of others is an inspiring one indeed.

Her advice to women on International Women's Day? “Many people are conflict-avoidant, especially women, who by traditional standards are socialised to be nice, polite, and kind. They are taught that these traits triumph all else," she said. "I consciously, but respectfully, challenge what there is to challenge, otherwise how else will change come? From boardrooms to bedrooms, women need to think about what they have been spoon-fed and conditioned to think, and usually it is some variant of ‘I am not enough'.”

See also: 5 Designing Women: Meet The First Ladies Of Malaysian Design

Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana, professional hijabi wrestler

Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana is the world’s first hijab-wearing pro wrestler, bringing ground-breaking representation to a sport that has been dominated for men until very recently. A shy, reserved woman who transforms into a bold and confident sportswoman in the ring, she shares her approach in dealing with the many challenges of being a professional wrestler. 

“One of the biggest barriers for me is society’s expectation of me. They don’t want to see someone like me in pro wrestling. How do I overcome this adversity? I do this by continuing to pursue my dreams of becoming a wrestler,” she said.

“I think it is important to celebrate the achievements of women from all around the world. I love to see the accomplishments of other great women around me to keep me motivated and driven.”

See also: Being A Female In Male-Dominated Sports: 3 Women On What They Love About It

Dr Jezamine Lim, co-founder and CEO of Cell Biopeutics Resources

Dr Jezamine Lim was first woman to attain a PhD in Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering at UKM. Now, she is co-founder and CEO of Cell Biopeutics Resources, which aims to produce world class stem cell derived cosmetic products and therapeutic treatments for unmet medical diseases. She shares her experience in this male-dominated field: “When I started my journey in the BioTech field, I realized that there were—and still are—very few women that are involved in this industry."

And she is determined to inspire young women to join the STEM industry and beyond.  "I think it is important for myself and other women in this field to challenge this status quo!" she said. "We need to help break the perception that this is a ‘man’s game’ and prove that gender has nothing to do with a person’s ability to excel in this, or any, field.”

See also: 5 Women In Tech Championing Sustainable Change

  • ImagesCourtesy of Kate Spade