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IWD 2022 #WomenMakingADifference

 

This International Women's Day we are highlighting not one, but four empowered women from different walks of life pursuing their passions while continuing to #BreakTheBias.  

Women are continuously breaking boundaries every single day and striving to make an impact in our lives with little efforts but big meanings. Every time that a woman stands up against gender biasness, or a female CEO pushes back on the glass ceiling, or a businesswoman successfully leads her country to go greener — these are little ways these women are making a difference today. 

#WomenMakingADifference 

Natasha Shazana, co-founder of Soko

What made you pursue this passion/career?

I want to effect change in an industry that continues to perpetuate oversexualization. Women deserve a joyful and empowering bra shopping experience in a space where they feel represented - one that makes them feel comfortable, both inside and out.

What are the common biases/stereotype you’ve faced in your career?

“Think like a man. What would a man do in this situation?” “Crying makes you look weak.” “Are you the assistant?” Whether these statements were spoken unconsciously or not, they are biased and serve as just some examples of the type of gender biased language that women like me have faced having worked in the financial services industry.

How did you overcome all the obstacles you’ve faced and become who you are today?

Self-awareness. I recognise my strengths and weaknesses equally, and with that comes a commitment to personal growth.

What is the most important message that you’d like  to convey to all the women out there?

Learn to be your own cheerleader early on and be kind to your mind. The best kind of encouragement comes from within.

Hedy Hiew, Legal Innovation 

What made you pursue this passion/career?

When I was studying for the Malaysian Bar, I realised I did not envision a future for myself in legal practice, so I decided to branch out to an adjacent field of legal innovation! It was definitely the right move for me, and suits my personality and skillsets better than legal practice would. Though it is a non-traditional path for a Law graduate, I'm glad I took it as I really enjoy my work and the people I am fortunate enough to work with.

What are the common biases/stereotype you’ve faced in your career?

I've only just started out in my career, and so far I've been extremely lucky so far to work with colleagues who uplift and motivate me. In fact, my immediate team at the moment consists of only women!

When I was younger, I was told to 'tone down' and to not be so independent, by a teacher no less! I've also been told I was too overbearing when leading teams in school, when I honestly think a boy would not have received the same comments. Luckily, these double standards and comments have not dampened my spirits and have only strengthened my resolve to carve a path for the women who have been told the same. You will never be 'too much' for the right people.

How did you overcome all the obstacles you’ve faced and become who you are today?

I try to believe in myself more than the stormy weather I'm facing, and indulge in a whole lot of self-care! Nothing gets me out of my own head like a great workout session and a soothing skincare routine. I'm also lucky enough to have a very strong support system, including the incredible women in my circle who continue to uplift and cheer me on! It helps to have people around you who believe in you during those moments of self-doubt.

What is the most important message that you’d like  to convey to all the women out there?

Speak to yourself in kindness, as you would to a friend! We can be so hard on ourselves to be the 'perfect' woman - daughter, friend, colleague, wife, mother, etc. that it can make it hard to enjoy the moments in-between which make up life! There is no such thing as a perfect woman, you are perfectly you! Be yourself, because everyone else is taken. 

 

Elise Lim, Founder of Oxidat

What made you pursue this passion/career?

The waste and the environment. Before the pandemic, I started Oxidat because of the tablet refilling concept to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bottles, and also it is a safer and more effective alternative to conventional disinfectants/ sanitizers that are toxic to our health. Will be looking into expanding tablet- concept household products to further reduce the waste problem in this country because recycling is not the best option. 

What are the common biases/stereotype you've faced in your career?

Back when I was in corporate and when I first started by own business, I do get comments like "Why are you working so hard? you can just get married and live a stress-free life." But to be honest, I genuinely did not get offended at all. Maybe because this is what I have been growing up hearing- within my own family and especially from my own father. He is really old-school and this is how he was brought up. He never believed woman should work and we should take care of the household and the men should be the breadwinner. It was a bias, but it wasn't the type that impeded my career process. In fact, I thank my dad who made me who I am today. 



How did you overcome all the obstacles you've faced and become who you are today?

Facing them head on, and always levelling up. Because business does not care how I feel when the endless task needs to get done. I definitely do take constructive criticism seriously in the sense of self-reflection so I can further improve as a person. 

What is the most important message that you’d like  to convey to all the women out there?

Mind your own business and stay focused. Do not get swayed by what others have to say about what you are doing and how you are going to live your life in order to reach your own success in life (Of course, doing it ethically and with respect for others around you.) It is going to be a lonely journey but always remember that you will have supportive family or friends you can reach out to whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out. We are only human. 

 

Nur Dalila, Flight Stewardess

What made you pursue this passion/career?

Different excitement everyday! Different set of crew you flying with, different passengers. On top of that, I enjoy meet new people and learn new experiences! Oh and of course got to travel for discounted ticket price! 

What are the common biases/stereotype you've faced in your career?

Definitely GENDER stereotypes.

When certain passengers/groups of society see us women in our red skirt uniform they will automatically think that we are easy to get by any man, we're just high class waitresses, we don't possess high levels of education certificates, we will flirt with male passengers and what not.

How did you overcome all the obstacles you’ve faced and become who you are today?

Whenever I feel sad and stress, I will acknowledge my emotions and write it on a paper. I will call my sisters and close friend to talk about my problems so I don't hold the burden alone. 

What is the most important message that you’d like  to convey to all the women out there?

 To all girls out there.. to get success in life, you need to find something to hold onto, something to motivate you, something to inspire you! When you feel giving up, always stick to the plan and trust the process. 

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