Regional non-profit women’s organisation, The Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) recently launched an initiative to work with policy makers and civil society organisations on improving the lives of women, girls and marginalised groups in Malaysia in line with the agreed commitments made by the Malaysian Government at the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) forums.
Dubbed the ‘Gender Equality Initiative in Malaysia’, the project while being funded by the European Union, is a joint venture that ARROW will be taking on over the next two years together with the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia (FRHAM) and Justice For Sisters (JfS).
The initiative, which was launched at ARROW’s SheDecides Day event on March 2nd at Hotel Majestic Kuala Lumpur, aims to work on CEDAW and UPR recommendations such as: the adoption of a Gender Equality Act in Malaysia, prohibition of female genital cutting/mutilation, ending child marriage by raising the minimum age of marriage to 18, introducing comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education as part of school curricula, and amending laws that discriminate against the LGBTIQ+ community, amongst others.
“ARROW and our partners of this initiative, stand to support the Government of Malaysia, civil society and stakeholder groups, to ensure women, girls and marginalised groups in Malaysia achieve their full potential and no one is left behind in the quest for sustainable development,” said ARROW Executive Director, Sivananthi Thanenthiran.
“We have made significant progress towards the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, and the implementation of human rights conventions such as the CEDAW. Having said this, there is much more to work on,” she added.
European Union Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Malaysia, Maria Castillo Fernandez, who was part of the launch, also stated, “Violence is all over, we still have a long way to go even if it comes in different forms across different countries. It takes a long time, it won’t be fixed tomorrow but it is very important and we are very glad to be partnering with our Malaysian partners on this project.”
March 2nd marks SheDecides Day, a movement to defend girls and women’s rights to control what happens to their bodies, their futures and their lives. SheDecides believes women should decide freely and for themselves about their sexual lives, including whether, when, with whom and how many children they have.
ARROW’s SheDecides event was attended by the European Union Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Malaysia, Maria Castillo Fernandez, as well as representatives from the Embassies of Finland, Nepal, and Sweden, along with 60 NGO and youth-led organisations from around Malaysia in order to celebrate a day of gender equality.