Empowering teenage girls

The award ceremony for the Laurier School of Confidence winners.

WITH the rising concerns about global challenges like climate change, ageing societies, resource scarcity and the managing of materials such as plastics, consumers have also expressed a growing desire to make changes to the way they live – to be gentler and to realise a more sustainable lifestyle.

In support of consumer’s lifestyle changes and to contribute to a more sustainable world, as envisioned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Kao introduced its global environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, the Kirei Lifestyle.

“The Japanese word ‘kirei’ describes something that is clean, well-ordered and beautiful, all at the same time. For Kao, this concept of ‘kirei’ not only describes appearance, but also attitude – to seek to create beauty for oneself and also for other people around us.

“As a FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brand, Kao aims to integrate ESG as the foundation of its business management to accelerate business growth and create value for consumers and society.

“Thus, the Kirei Lifestyle philosophy has become the inspiration behind our mission to make life beautiful for all,” shared Kao Malaysia president Ito Hirofumi.

The Laurier School of Confidence series motivates secondary school girls to navigate life confidently with engaging activities.The Laurier School of Confidence series motivates secondary school girls to navigate life confidently with engaging activities.

To deliver its vision of a Kirei Lifestyle for all, Kao Corporation has set three bold commitments supported by 19 detailed leadership actions for the business to deliver by 2030:

> ‘Make my everyday more beautiful’ by empowering at least 1 billion people by 2030 to enjoy more beautiful lives, be it greater cleanliness, easier ageing, better health and confidence in self expression.

> ‘Make thoughtful choices for society’ by ensuring that 100% of Kao brands make it easy for people to make small but meaningful choices that, together, will shape a more resilient and compassionate society.

> ‘Make the world healthier and cleaner’ by promising that 100% of Kao products will leave a full life cycle environmental footprint that science says our natural world can safely absorb.

Under the ‘Make my everyday more beautiful’ commitment, the Kirei Lifestyle concept outlined four Kao Actions, one of which is ‘habits for cleanliness, beauty and health’.

In line with this action plan, Kao Corporation, through its sanitary brand Kao Laurier, elevated its existing nationwide enrichment programme for girls in secondary school with the addition of the Akademi Keyakinan Laurier (Laurier School of Confidence) empowerment series.

“Advocating that a beautiful girl is informed, empowered and confident, Kao Laurier Malaysia recognises the importance of encouraging greater representation of women and girls from various backgrounds and realising their own untapped potential.

“Our hope is that the Laurier School of Confidence is able to create a space where girls can amplify their confidence and nurture a hunger for knowledge in various areas without boundaries, as well as learn from people who inspire them,” said Ito.

(Second row, from left) Low, Ito and PTPTN COO Mastura Mohd Khalid with the bright winners of Laurier School of Confidence at the award ceremony held at the Selangor Education Department in Shah Alam.(Second row, from left) Low, Ito and PTPTN COO Mastura Mohd Khalid with the bright winners of Laurier School of Confidence at the award ceremony held at the Selangor Education Department in Shah Alam.

Aimed at inspiring teenage girls to develop into the next generation of confident, ambitious women who will actively contribute to community and nation-building, the Laurier School of Confidence empowerment series comprises five succinct video modules on five contemporary topics, featuring six inspiring young Malaysian women who have pushed themselves in pursuit of their dreams and passion with confidence.

The topics include overcoming cyber-bullying and embracing body confidence by body acceptance advocate and fashion model Nalisa Alia Amin; encouraging discussions on menstrual hygiene by primary health care resident and NobleDr+ founder Dr Syazana Ali; pursuing one’s dream and passion by independent figure skater Maryam Mahmud and sister former captain of D*Starz SMK (P) Sri Aman cheer team Marina Mahmud; adopting skills for entrepreneurship by Glampot co-founder Gabriena Lee; as well as encouraging greater representation of girls in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields by teacher and sole Malaysian winner of the 2021 Google Innovator Academy certified coaching award Premalatha Selvaraj.

“We want to focus on topics that are not only relevant to these young teenage girls, but are also able to help boost their confidence as they transition into adulthood.

“Hence, the women we have engaged to speak in the modules are everyday young Malaysian women who come from different walks of life, sharing related and inspiring life skills,” said Kao Malaysia marketing vice-president Tan Poh Ling.

In addition to acquiring valuable life skills, participants of the Laurier School of Confidence will also stand a chance to be awarded with up to RM1,500 each in the form of an education fund through the Simpan SSPN Prime account.

The first phase, which started in June this year, has concluded recently with an active interest of 600 students from 65 schools in the central region, awarding eight students with a total of RM12,000 to kickstart their Simpan SSPN Prime education savings fund to fulfil their higher education goals.

The series incorporated an engaging element that required students to respond to questions at the end of each module, where the eight girls shared their personal struggles with self-confidence, body-shaming and speech disorders and how the series gave them hope for the future.

Among the winners, Adielah Syahirah Khairul Khanizam, shared, “The Laurier School of Confidence has helped me change for the better. I now have a boost of confidence to stand and present in front of a class and voice my opinion.”

As for Aurellya Darlene Muh Asyraf and Anna Lim, they shared that the series has boosted their confidence and motivated them to strive for their goals, while encouraging their friends who are still struggling in pursuit of self-confidence.

Following the success of the first phase, the Laurier School of confidence is set to inspire and motivate over 168,000 secondary school girls across Malaysia until June 2023.

Kao Laurier Malaysia has been working closely with Yayasan Perintis Malaysia (MYPerintis) in reaching out to schools for its ESG programme including the Laurier School of Confidence empowerment series.

“We hope to achieve 420 schools by June 2023. Groundwork with the other regions has already started as we have reached out to the respective schools in both Northern and Southern regions,” said MYPerintis founding chairman Datuk Lawrence Low.

Through its long-term ESG programme, Kao Laurier Malaysia has always been dedicated at supporting and educating young girls in hygiene care for the past 27 years. To date, the company has touched the lives of two million students from over 8,000 schools through the programme.

To participate in the series, secondary school girls will need to sit through Laurier’s ESG menstrual hygiene Yakinlah Menjadi Remaja workshop, which will be held in respective schools. Then, participants will have access to watch all five Laurier School of Confidence video modules before answering a question after each session.

To learn more about the Laurier School of Confidence empowerment series, or for secondary students who are interested to participate, reach out to @KaoLaurier on Facebook and @lauriermy on Instagram.

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