The WOW! Fiesta 2019 over March 16 and 17 accomplished what it set out to do – celebrate female empowerment, entertain visitors, educate women and men, encourage entrepreneurship, and provide a little retail therapy.
Visitors arrived early to pack the MBO cinema hall at Starling Mall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor – not to catch the latest blockbuster movie, but to listen to talks and discussions about health issues, money matters, business opportunities, self-confidence and positivism, even self-defence.
People in the exhibition hall also came early and stayed until late, weaving through more than 100 booths and stalls that were either selling products from fashion and beauty to home decor and food, or providing services that included health checkups and yoga classes.
There were workshops throughout the weekend, a performance by female stand-up comics, and activities to keep children occupied and entertained.
The WOW! Fiesta is the highlight of Star Media Group’s WOW-Women Do Wonders campaign to celebrate women and female empowerment, in conjunction with International Women’s Day in March every year.
Vicky Yap, 64, and her husband, fund manager Allan Chow, 65, said they came to the event to learn more about financial planning. They said they gained valuable insights on online investments at the Bursa Malaysia stall.
“Investing is important regardless of gender,” said Chow. “It’s good that Bursa Malaysia has set up a booth to enlighten visitors about the various types of investments.”
Meanwhile, Siti Salmah Abu Bakar, 30, was a happy shopper. “A bazaar like this helps budding entrepreneurs step forward and showcase their talents,” said the marketing executive, who was there with her sisters.
The WOW! Fiesta also gave them the chance to meet and listen to other women give inspiring speeches, including young female entrepreneurs who shared their startup experiences and offered tips on how to build a successful business as a woman.
These included La Juiceria founder and managing director Anabelle Co-Martinent, celebrity businesswoman and TV personality Wong Chui Ling, The Accidental Bakers founder Ee-Lyn Tan, and Mimpi Kita founder Nurul Afidah Zulkifli.
Meanwhile, radio presenter and author Freda Liu delivered a talk on positivism and self-confidence during her session, The Battle Between You Present Self And Future Self. One theme that ran through the talks was about women breaking away from gender stereotypes to build a label-free culture.
Vanessa Adina Toyad Ho, a 21-year-old student who was keen to run her own business someday, found the talks enlightening. “I’m really inspired by ambitious women who are willing to break down barriers and create something of their own,” she said.
"I’ve learnt that women should be daring and never be afraid to voice our thoughts. It helps us find a more meaningful purpose in life,” she added.
The health talks by medical professionals from ParkCity Medical Centre were also a hit. Consultant breast and oncoplastic surgeon Dr Tan Gie Hooi gave an engaging session on breast cancer awareness, early detection and treatment.
She gave a detailed explanation of how to do a breast self-examination, listing down the signs to watch out for. More importantly, she urged women not to be afraid of mammograms or knowing their status as the chances of surviving breast cancer are higher with early treatment.
Consultant obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Jaspal Singh Sachdev’s talked about Screening Preconceptions And Beyond, focusing on cervical cancer and the importance of pap-smear screening.
He said, "Most of the time, women seek treatment in advanced stages of cervical cancer. The mortality rates are high, especially among these women. My advice is to go for regular health screenings and seek treatment as soon as possible."
University undergraduate Khairunnisa Noor Ismail, 20, was among the hundreds who attended the health talks. “The breast cancer talk was most informative as my aunt has been battling cancer," she said.
“I also enjoyed the session What No One In Business Ever Tells You, which focused on the speaker’s struggles and the secrets of their success. And I enjoyed Wong Chui Ling’s investment talk as I learnt ways of making positive investments," she added.
On top of cancer, there was a talk on body dysmorphia by wellness coach Linora Low, how to live a zero waste life by Aurora Tin, and mental health in young women by Bridging Gaps.
One of the most anticipated workshops was the self-defence class by mixed-martial arts champion Ann Osman. She showed about 40 female participants some pretty good moves on how to fight off an attacker.
Other highlights included a yoga session by the Malaysian Yoga Society, a mini terrarium workshop by Ficus & Jar’s, and a zumba workout session by Azila Aziz. – Additional reporting by Chris Fam, Mohammad Saifullah, Nur Izzaty Shaifullizan