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Women are more than just quota fillers, says Rafidah

PETALING JAYA: Women are so much more than quota fillers, said Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (pic) who urged society to drop its obsession with filling up the 30% quota of women in boardrooms, and instead take note of the many capable and inspiring women who are already out there.

“There are enough good women. It is only when we are not looking at these good women that we start having these quotas and in the end make women just quota fillers.

“If you recognise the talented women we have, you don’t need to count.

“Why have a boardroom filled with 30% women if all of them are cowed by men?

“It is better to have one woman who can out-talk the men. That’s what we want,” said the chairman of AirAsia X Bhd during her fiery talk at the WOW – Women do Wonders – event organised by Star Media Group and AirAsia Bhd.

Rafidah reminisced about her growing up years in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, when she used to “play with the boys” without thinking about the difference between genders.

“The tagline of this event, Women do Wonders and #girlscandoanything, really coincides with my own personal motto.

“Growing up, I never brought gender into question.

“I was always playing with the boys like my neighbour, we called him Jamal Pendek. If they were flying kites, I was also flying kites with them.

“If they were playing gasing, I was also playing gasing with them.

“In fact, I would make my own gasing because I could do anything.

“I didn’t play with the girls because most of them didn’t want to play in the sun,” said the former International Trade and Industry Minister who was known as the “Iron Lady” during her Cabinet tenure.

Rafidah also urged women to kick the “buts” out of their vocabulary.

“Women always have a lot of ‘buts’ – ‘but I can’t do this’ or ‘but I’m the weaker sex’, blah blah blah. What is this ‘but’? Get rid of all the ‘buts’ and then you will have self-confidence. Don’t wait for opportunities to come your way. Don’t wait to be spoon-fed,” she said to a captivated crowd.

AirAsia Bhd CEO Aireen Omar also delivered an inspiring message to the girls and young women in the crowd, using AirAsia as an example of how women can excel in any field.

Highlighting AirAsia’s all-women crew on flight AK5110 (which flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu on Feb 13), she said the company was bent on getting more girls interested in pursuing careers in the aviation industry.

Aireen said: “We are working with (educational non-governmental organisation) Teach For Malaysia to bring students to our facility so that they can see what we do, learn about the women in AirAsia, get to experience our simulators, talk to our staff, and actually discover the opportunities available to them.”