Rashidah is a keen policy-oriented researcher, writer and activist. She has led the conceptualisation, coordination and report writing of a number of national, regional and international research and evaluation projects aimed at programme and policy change to benefit women. Rashidah has been a founder of a number of innovative NGOs, including the Women’s Centre Action Group in Western Australia, Women’s Aid Organisation for battered women, Sisters in Islam, ARROW, the Global Forum for Health Research (Geneva) and the Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM). Rashidah has been a consultant and a technical advisor for a number of international organisations, including UNESCO, UNFPA, IPPF, and WHO, as well as the Malaysian government and a number of women’s NGOs. Besides research and advocacy, she also has enjoyed writing and editing many publications on violence against women, gender and development, sexual and reproductive health, population policy, monitoring and advocacy, men’s responsibility, women’s health and rights, and Islam and women’s rights. Rashidah is currently active in a number of capacities RRAAM, the Malaysian Aids Council, Sisters in Islam, and the Women’s Aid Organization (WAO). She now works as an activist and independent consultant in the areas of women’s health and sexual and reproductive health and rights, women’s rights and NGO organisational development.
Rita Raj founded ARROW in 1993 with Rashidah Abdullah and remained a director until 1996. Before ARROW, Rita worked for 10 years with the Malaysian Federation of Family Planning Associations. Rita joined the Asian and Pacific Development Centre (APDC) in 1988 and teamed up with Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) to coordinate WAO’s path breaking national domestic violence research, which helped influence legislation in Malaysia. She was a co-coordinator for the seven-country feminist research study of the International Research on Reproductive Rights and Action Group (IRRRAG) project and also supported International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) Asia Pacific. Rita went on to study traditional Chinese medicine at the New England School of Acupuncture in Massachusetts, United States and became a licensed acupuncturist, fulfilling a life-long dream to become a healer. She continued her work in women’s health through her involvement with the Boston Women’s Health Collective, UNFPA and Rutgers University Center for Global Women’s Leadership. Throughout her life, Rita inspired many with her deep commitment to the inequities and injustices many women face, which she translated into action to improve women’s health and rights around the world. She passed away on 23 November 2006 in Boston, Massachusetts and is dearly missed.