AS A young boy, Jerald Joseph did not have to do the dishes, as it was a task left to the women and girls.
Feeling bad about this gender inequality, he would wash his own dishes whenever he could.
Today, a commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), Joseph said the biggest struggle for him was in trying to break the gender stereotypes at home.
Joseph shared his story during the “Be Bold for Change” forum held at Sime Darby Convention Centre in conjunction with Yayasan Sime Darby’s (YSD) first International Women’s Day celebration on March 23.
Joseph was the only man among the four panellists. The others were Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president and Sime Darby Motors Division corporate affairs director Datuk Aishah Ahmad, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) co-founder and executive producer Datuk Faridah Merican, and Cancer Research Malaysia (CRM) chief executive officer Prof Dr Teo Soo-Hwang.
Moderated by WOMEN:girls founder and president Low Ngai Yuen, the forum saw the panellists sharing inspiring stories about their life and their struggle against gender discrimination.
Aishah talked about the lack of acceptance and the doubtful comments that she had to face in getting to where she was today.
Dr Teo reminisced about how she was a slow learner at a young age but managed to overcome it and aced all her exams, while Faridah related her experience in the performing arts field.
There was also discussion with the audience on issues such as segregation among the minorities and the rights of women.
YSD presented a mock cheque for RM1.5mil it had pledged for the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) for three years until the end of 2019.
It marked a decade of collaboration with WAO, with a total of RM4.3mil contributed to the organisation, said YSD governing council member Datin Paduka Zaitoon Datuk Othman.
“From January 2010 until September 2016, a total of 949 women and 821 children sought refuge in WAO’s centre, that provided much-needed shelter and protection for battered and scarred women and children,” she said in a speech.
WAO executive director Sumitra Visvanathan said YSD’s support was crucial in enabling them to advocate for laws and policies that improved the lives of Malaysian women and protected survivors of domestic violence.
“YSD’s support has enabled us to provide services to women and children who are victims of abuse, helping them to rebuild their lives as empowered survivors,” she added.
At the half-day celebration, WAO also held a workshop on “Why Gender Matters?” for about 150 attendees, comprising YSD staff and beneficiaries.
There was also an image theatre performance by the Five Arts Centre’s Exchange Theatre actors.
WAO is planning to implement its multi-stakeholder platform, shelter network and a safe community project.