International Women's Day do with IWA

International Women’s Day 2017 was commemorated by the International Women’s Association (IWA) Johor Baru with a grand celebration that featured guest speakers whose inspiring experiences deeply encouraged and empowered the women.

IWA members and guests with guest speaker, Daisy Harry
[5th from Right] at the International Women's Day event
Held on March 8, the high-tea event was attended by IWA members from nations like Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, India, Korea, Netherlands, England, Scotland, the United States, Singapore and Malaysia, and their guests.

The IWA is a non-profit charity organization established in May 1999 to organize fund-raising social events to contribute towards healthcare, education and other social needs in Johor Baru. 

The IWA tagline, Connecting – Caring – Contributing, is a reflection of how IWA recognises its role in the community.  While IWA is helping expatriate women adjust to living in a foreign country, they also have a social purpose. As IWA becomes more aware of the needs of local charities, they are working in partnership to support them.

A drum performance by the Befrienders'
all-women drum troop to kick off the celebration
Since its inception, the IWA has raised funds to support various causes including the welfare home in Saleng, the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre and several Tamil schools in Kulaijaya. 

A brief video clip was presented to introduce and appreciate the community work which IWA was involved in, working with local NGO’s and partners in and around JB.

Since 2006, IWA has been supporting the Befrienders – a group of volunteers who provide emotional and telephone support to people in despair or are suicidal.  To kick off the day’s celebration with a resounding boom, the Befrienders’ all-women drum troop presented a short drumming performance.

The IWA also supports JEWEL or Johor Women’s League, an NGO that is working hard to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and children.

IWA also works with Soroptomists International Johor Baru in their school for refugee children in Kota Tinggi, to help these children benefit from a formal education.

Jennie Parr, Center Manager of KOMTAR JBCC,
sharing her thoughts in her inspirational talk
They also actively support the work of JB’s Breast Cancer Support Group which has a programme of activities to encourage and empower women who are affected by the disease.

One of the long-time beneficiaries of IWA’s support is the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO), which they claim is the best place to by quality handmade souvenirs.

Some of the NGO’s that IWA also partnered with since 2012 include Johor Empowerment of Intellectual Women Association (JEiWA), an NGO that provides support to abused professional women, JB Divine Life Society, Unilife 151 which also runs a charity shop in the Angsana Mall, the JB Alzheimer’s Disease Support Association, Care2Share, Puspanesam Home in Ulu Tiram, the Saleng Home, Double Blessing, the Berkat Home and the Hope Animal Shelter.

The first guest speaker was Assistant Vice-President (Knowledge Management) Corporate Services in the Social Development Division of Iskandar Regional Development Authority, Daisy Harry.

She explained that the development of Iskandar Malaysia, which started nine years ago, is at its third phase of development and part of Iskandar Malaysia’s goal is to have different nationalities living together in a strong and sustainable metropolis. She also welcomed IWA members, who have made Iskandar Malaysia their home.

She cited an example of how the women in Kampung Sungai Melayu, a traditional fishing village located behind Marlborough College Malaysia, are stepping up to actively promote eco-tourism. 

JEiWA adviser, Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, shared
a deeply personal testimony to encourage the women
She noted that it was the women who have the courage to communicate with other nationalities to promote their products, and are being involved in helping others in their village to be successful.  In fact, these women are helping them to turn from fishermen into entrepreneurs!

Jennie Parr, Centre Manager of premium shopping mall, KOMTAR JBCC, opened her talk with the definition of ‘empowerment’ and her personal views about this word. She said that all women inspires her because everyone has a journey and a story to tell.

She cited the extremes of inequality from women in war-torn countries who have lost husbands and children, how they struggle in poverty and with no voice, to career women who still do not receive equal pay for the equal amount of work.  This has always not been in the women’s favour and still widely prevalent today.

She said many women don’t have a choice but we do. And having a choice and a voice is empowerment, so women here should be proud of their position in the community.

The talk by JEiWa adviser, Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, was deeply personal and the audience listened with rapt attention to her own experience.  She spoke with passion about clinging to the hope of the blue sky which inspired her determination to adopt her mother’s courage to break down the barriers of domestic violence and poverty to find her own path to success. 

Dr Sharifah [Standing 2nd from Left] answering
questions from women who were touched by her story
She recognised that many women, being trapped in domestic violence, are afraid to move out of the sphere of violence. But to those who have come out of it, JEiWA will help them find their way again and give them hope to live better lives.

Men have always made all the rules for women but since the 1900’s women have redefined their roles in the community.  Despite the progress, there is still a big gap in gender equality so every woman was encouraged to play their role in their own sphere of influence to work at closing this gap in the coming years.

The IWA Women’s Day celebration continued with an elegant high-tea while the women mingled and enjoyed warm interaction with the guest speakers.

IWA invites women from the international community in JB to join them as members.  Membership queries should be sent to email:

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