International Women's Day - Women Empowerment from Within

Sarikei, March 27th – SMA | Sarikei Innovation Center and Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC), powered by iCube Innovation holds "Empowerment from Within", a virtual event in conjunction with the month of International Women's Day 2021.

On the occasion of celebrating women, the event connects women with helpful information, tools and methodologies to cultivates support amongst women. By helping women advocate for themselves, SMA | Sarikei Innovation Center aims to help women thrive and advance in their personal lives and careers.

"Empowerment from Within" features a powerhouse lineup of women speakers, including representatives of Sarawak's women's NGOs: Clara Liew (Grow with Google - Women Will Sarawak Chapter Lead), Farah Nadia Masrol (Founder of Lean In Sarawak), Lina Yong (PurpleLily Kuching Girls' Camp Coordinator), and guest speakers Olivia Ling (Entrepreneur), Mona Abdul Mana (CEO of Place Borneo), and Grace Park (Co-founder and President of DocDoc).

In driving conversations that support and empower women, the event opened with raising awareness on women shared experiences followed by the sharing of valuable information for leadership building and career development.

Participants were endowed with profound insights from highly accomplished women who are experts in their field in the second half of the event. Dialling in from New Zealand, Olivia Ling shared her thoughtful topic of "What I'd Tell My 20 Years Old Younger Self”. Guest speaker Mona presented her very own pragmatic regime of "Thriving in a Macho World". And Grace Park, with her 19 years of leadership experience (13 of which were spent in Fortune 500 international healthcare companies), gave her visionary advice on "Finding Your Calling".

Throughout the event, participants repeatedly responded in agreement to the content communicated across. The event also saw participants conveying feelings of inspiration and appreciation towards the handy tools and insights shared.

Guest speaker, Mona Abdul Manap, commented that "the turnout at the event just tells you how young women — newly employed, professionals or students — thirst for inspiration and guidance from established women. The need is more in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we are finding ourselves in. There are numerous women figures we can find online and in books but none would be as effective as those who grew and thrived in the same community and environment that we will be delving into."

According to Clara Liew, who is also the content curator of the event: "There's always something very empowering when it comes to events that cater to women. In the many that I have attended or hosted, none has ever turned out to be about going against the opposite gender. When women come together to speak about their shared experience openly, they encourage and inspire one another more than anything. Male or female, you always walk away feeling lifted by this sense of sisterhood even though the room is filled with people who have never met each other."

Grace Park (currently based in Singapore) shared similar sentiments in her experience as a guest speaker: "It was wonderful to hear all the sister speakers - well done - so much wisdom shared. I enjoyed reinforcing many of the themes alongside extraordinary women who are making a significant and positive difference within their community and especially role modelling to the next generation of women leaders. The future is bright!"

Adding more insight into the empowering event, guest speaker Nadia Masrol remarked: "Girls and women of all ages tend to amplify their weaknesses and discredit their strengths when they go about their daily life be it personal or career-wise. It is important for them to acknowledge that they, like everyone else, are a work in progress, and to be aware that support is out there. Empowerment from Within managed to give them this - that awareness. Lean In Sarawak hopes more engagements such as this will be made available in the near future."

When asked to compare the difference of organizing an event as such virtually versus the pre-Covid era, Clara commented that whether it is online or offline, the one thing that never changed is how 'it always works out like a breeze with the mutual understanding between women with a mutual goal, the experience is always such a joy.'

Indeed, one could tell how all six women speakers are very much on the same page despite articulating their thoughts and experience separately and from different localities after the event.

"The truth is, we all have so much in common. My hope is that with more events that offer a safe space for everyone to have a voice, more constructive conversations can take place and more will come to see the positive impact of speaking one's truth. Regardless of gender, it is very empowering.

That is the ultimate equality we should be striving for because when we can reach an understanding as human, the mutual support that ensues comes naturally, it is solid, it is bonafide. It is high time we all see gender stereotyping and stigmas for what they are - misleading and limiting. On the other hand, what good comradeship and camaraderie can accomplish is LIMITLESS." - Clara Liew

By the end of the session, the event's chat room was one that was filled with gratitude from participators.

Conducted over Zoom Cloud Meeting, "Empowerment from Within" was attended by male and female students and working adults. Participants joined in from all around Sarawak (Kuching, Sibu, Sarikei, Miri, Bintulu, Kapit, Dalat) and beyond (Kota Kinabalu, Selangor, Arizona, Barnet of north London and Bromley of south-east London)

For those who have missed the event, you can get a summary on the pointers (digital scribe) from the individual speakers at SMA | Sarikei Innovation Center’s Facebook page at this link:

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