International Women's Day: 10 Most Memorable Achievements by Malaysian Women

On 8 March, the world celebrates International Women's Day to honour and celebrate the inspirational strength of a beautiful gender who was once oppressed. We at SAYS love women, and we know you do too! As our very own homage to Malaysian women who roars loud, we present to you the 10 most memorable achievements by our very own Malaysian ladies. Happy International Women's Day guys and girls!

  • Yasmin Ahmad, the true 1Malaysia icon

    • Remember that Petronas commercial? Yasmin Ahmad, filmmaker and director extraordinaire touched the hearts of Malaysians with her unique commercials and movies that challenged racial discrimination.

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    • Beloved by many, her all Malaysian movies and commercial have an impactful and insightful message of racial unity and family values effortlessly tied into the heart of Malaysians.

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    • Through her vision, she taught and inspired us love, respect and unity. She will always be in the eyes of many as the true ambassador of a united Malaysia.

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    • Although her films were contentious as they often broached taboo topics, they were also hailed for the humour and crossing cultural barriers.

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    • Years after her passing, Yasmin's work of art remains in the heart of many Malaysians. Forever inspiring, she will always be remembered as a Malaysian icon on unity.

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  • Datuk Nicole Ann David, world number 1

    • Nicole David, the Penang lass and squash superstar is our five-time world champion in squash and has won 49 WISPA titles since 2000.

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    • Currently ranked world number 1 by WISPA, she is the 1st Asian sportswoman to achieve this ranking and the 1st Asian ever to be crowned as the world number 1 in sports.

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    • She has also won the Asian Squash Championship eight times and was named the WISPA Player of the Year for six consecutive times from 2005 until 2010.

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    • More notably, Nicole is now campaigning for squash to be included in the Olympics. She missed the 2012 Olympics but hopefully 2016 will see Malaysia winning a gold in squash!

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  • Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the lady in banking

    • Who's thought women will be good with money? Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is the governor of Malaysian Central Bank and the longest serving governer of Bank Negara Malaysia.

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    • She the 1st woman appointed as central bank governor in Malaysia and Asia, and also the 1st woman within the top 10 rankings for central bank governors of the world.

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    • She was part of the team that “bet against the IMF and won” in the aftermath of the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis when Malaysia declined aid from the IMF.

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    • Zeti is one of the most internationally respected central bankers and played a key role in turning KL into a global hub of the RM3 trillion Islamic finance industry.

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    • In 2011, Bloomberg columnist William Pesek picked her as one of his four nominees to head the prestigious International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the resignation of Dominic Strauss Khan.

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    • She put Malaysia at the forefront of the Islamic money market, and with carefully planned policies executed, Malaysia now has a substantial number of Islamic investors, both domestic and foreign.

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  • Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, the First Lady of fashion

    • Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, wife of former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, was much loved as Malaysia's First Lady.

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    • Apart from her tireless charitable work as well as efforts to raise cancer awareness, the late Datin Seri Endon Mahmood was well-known for bringing back the allure of traditional attire.

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    • Endon revolutionized the otherwise banal batik, nyonya kebaya and songket making it a trend in today's modern fashion. It has transcend from a cultural heritage to a modern fashion statement.

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    • Her campaign to promote the batik gave a new lease of life to the industry. Batik are now often incorporated not only in local designs but also in international couture.

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    • The late Datin Seri Endon Mahmood, who succumbed to the illness on 20th October at age 65, was a woman with passion, love and heart.

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  • Dr Ambiga Sreenevasan, upholding human rights in Malaysia

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        Dr Ambiga receiving the "International Women of Courage" Award in 2009.
    • Dato’ Dr Ambiga Sreenevasan is an iconic Malaysian hero. She is symbolic of the struggle for human rights in Malaysia.

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    • In 2009, she became one of eight recipients of the US Secretary of State’s “International Women of Courage” Award by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

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    • She is the co-chairman for Bersih. Since 2011, she has successfully rallied more than 80,000 people in 3 rallies to fight for electoral reform to stop fraud in GEs.

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    • She is the trigger that made Malaysians realized the importance to exercise their constitutional rights, and to use their power to pressure the government into practising free and fair elections.

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    • Opposition to her support of human rights by government and Islamic authorities has sometimes turned violent and threatening, but it hasn’t deterred her.

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    • Ambiga was lauded for pursuing judicial reform and good governance, standing up for religious tolerance, and resolutely advocating women’s equality and their full political participation.

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    • Ambiga: "You, the rakyat, will make the difference. You can help us clean the election. You will rise to the occasion, you will take part in democracy. This is it”

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  • Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, changed the stigma on HIV/AIDS issues

    • Marina Mahathir is the daughter of Tun Mahathir Mohamad. Her father's shadow has never stopped her from expressing her thoughts and ideas through various NGOs including the Malaysian AIDS Foundation.

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    • She has been president of the Malaysian AIDS Council for more than a decade and is chairman of the board of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation.

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    • Marina Mahathir is the women behind changing the negative perception towards HIV/AIDS victims, and to shine their plight in more more deserving light.

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    • Her AIDs advocacy has made it more acceptable for the public and the media to openly talk about AIDS, making treatment more accessible, and getting government and religious leaders support.

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    • In 2010, Marina was placed 57th in a New York based advicacy's list of the 100 most inspirational women around the world for championing the rights of women and children.

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    • She is now an advisor for the Malaysian AIDS Council and has won worldwide praise for her activism in dealing with the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS in Malaysia.

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  • Pandelela Rinong, first Malaysian woman to win Olympic medal

    • Who could forget when little known Pandelela dived the platform and suprised us with a bronze win in diving for Malaysia during the 2012 Olympics?

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    • Not only is she the first Malaysian woman to win an Olympics medal, Pandelela made us teared with pride with Malaysia's first-ever Olympics medal in a sport other than badminton.

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    • Pandelela's historic achievement is not only an inspiration to new female students but to all amateur swimmers and divers.

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    • Dive darling Pandelela Rinong Pamg and her bronze Olympic medal have attracted many young children, especially girls, to take up the aquatic activity.

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    • “It is certainly good for the future of Malaysian sports if Pandelela's achievement inspires more young girls to train as divers,” Amateur Swimming Union of Malaysia secretary Edwin Chong said.

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  • Sheila Majid, first Malaysian for musical clarity

    • Malaysia's singing sensation Sheila Majid has a strong presence in the regional music scene for the last 18 years with her trademark contemporary pop music tastefully with a Jazz and R&B flavour.

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    • Famously known as the Jazz Queen of Malaysia, Sheila is a legend in the musical industry with over 30 years in the field.

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    • She made Malaysian history when she performed at a sold-out concert at London’s West End Royalty Theatre in March 1996.

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    • In July 2000, Sheila Majid created history again by being the first local artist to perform at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in conjunction with her 15th year in the industry.

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  • Ling Tan, first Malaysian international supermodel

    • KL girl Ling Tan is Malaysia's first to break out into the international modelling world, becoming a world renowned and much sought after supermodel.

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    • She has signed with agencies IMG Models in New York, Innovative Artists Talent And Literary Agency in New York, Elite Paris, Munich Models.

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    • The first supermodel from South East Asia, Ling Tan has also changed the face of fashion with her exotic look, bringing a little bit of Asian flavour to an otherwise Western world.

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    • It’s hard to find any celebrated designer who has not got her to walk the runway, done a fashion campaign or endorsed some of their labels or products.

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  • Dato' Michelle Yeoh, first to make it big in Hollywood

    • Michelle Yeoh put Malaysia on the world map when she was the first Asian and Malaysian to star in the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies" with Pierce Brosnan.

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    • A role with Jackie Chan sparked her film career making her once of Hong Kong's biggest action star with her own star on the Hong Kong's Avenue of Stars.

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    • In 2008, film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked Michelle as the greatest action heroine of all time.

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    • Michelle has been nominated for 10 Oscars. She won 4, including Best Foreign Language Film for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and received 6 nominations with 3 wins for "Memoirs for a Geisha".

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    • In 2012, she had the honour to be the first Malaysian to join the star-studdend panel of voters to decide the Oscar winners of the 2013 Academy Awards.

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    • She was one of the 176 actors and directors invited by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences to be part of the judging process to select the nominees and winners.

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  • About International Women's Day

    • International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

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    • In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day, the tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts.

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    • 2013 Theme: "THE GENDER AGENDA: GAINING MOMENTUM" - We celebrate the achievements of women while remaining vigilant and tenacious for further sustainable change..

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