Empowering marginalised women through programme

(From third from left) YWCA KL co-chairman June Yeoh, Ramani, Umayal and Rythm Foundation head Jamamalar Samuel with those involved in the Maharani programme as well as participants.

(From third from left) YWCA KL co-chairman June Yeoh, Ramani, Umayal and Rythm Foundation head Jamamalar Samuel with those involved in the Maharani programme as well as participants.

RYTHM Foundation, inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Young Women’s Christian Association of Kuala Lumpur (YWCA KL) to collaborate in the foundation’s flagship programme to benefit young women from marginalised communities in Malaysia.

The foundation’s Maharani programme, established in 2011, is a social impact initiative of the QI Group.

The programme has helped more than 7,000 girls from poor and marginalised communities, aged between 13 and 16, to learn about gender, sexual and reproductive health, ethnicity and culture, and the importance of physical and spiritual wellness.

This has helped give the girls tools to develop into confident, responsible and civic-minded women.

Through the initiative, YWCA KL will roll out the Maharani programme for 100 young women registered with it for vocational training.

The target group are those aged between 15 and 25 from disadvantaged communities.

The collaboration is valid for an initial period of one year from April 1 to March 31, 2020.

The MoU was signed at QI Group’s Operational Headquarters by foundation chairman Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran and Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC) co-chairman and YWCA KL board member Datuk Ramani Gurusamy.

Umayal said the joint effort would provide participants with the necessary tools and knowledge to protect them from abuse – be it child abuse or gender-based violence.

Umayal said although YWCA KL had its VTOC programme, inclusion of the Maharani Learning Lab (MLL) module (an extension of the Maharani programme) would focus on character building and developing self-confidence.

“The programme encourages girls to discover their strength and skills while enhancing their self-esteem, strongly advocating the philosophy that every girl is born strong and should stay strong. This is also in line with Rythm Foundation’s aspirations to contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal – SDG 5 which is Gender Equality,” said Umayal.

The MLL, established as a pilot project in Sungai Siput, is an expansion of the Maharani programme that helps girls from poor communities of labourers, estate workers and daily wage earners.

It offers a safe, after-school space for participants to join various self-development programmes and academic coaching.

Secondary schools in Sungai Siput are also actively engaged in Maharani Learning Lab programmes.

“We have seen the powerful impact of the Maharani programme on girls from minority communities, who did not think it was possible to escape the poverty cycle.

“Through this collaboration with YWCA, we aim to reach out to more young women and help them realise their potential,” she said.

Umayal added that the foundation would have a project coordinator and counsellor to monitor and assess their progress.

“On behalf of YWCA and VTOC, I thank Rythm Foundation for giving us the opportunity to be part of the Maharani Programme.

Ramani said the collaborative partnership would ensure young women, especially adolescent girls, were educated, socially empowered and free from discrimination and promote their development, security and prosperity.

“Most importantly, they will be able to make informed decisions about their lives,” she added.