Equipping Young Women Activists to be Media-Savvy Advocates

Empower, 3R Media, U.S. Embassy KL, and the participants celebrate the launch of the “Creating Agents for Change” program. (Photo U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur)

ATTENTION: EDITORS
October 13, 2021

Kuala Lumpur – On Wednesday 13 October 2021, the program “Creating Agents for Change” was launched by U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. McFeeters, Selangor State Executive Councillor for Health, Unity, Women and Family Empowerment, YB Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud, and activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.  Organized by EMPOWER Malaysia and 3R Media with the support of the U.S. Embassy, the five-month, capacity-building program aims to empower young women to become better advocates in their fight for equality.

“Creating Agents for Change” involves a series of workshops that will immerse 20 Malaysian women leaders ages 18 to 30 in the foundations of human and gender rights to anchor their advocacy efforts. They will also receive in-depth media training to incorporate creativity in promoting social change as well as how to utilize media tools effectively to run their own media-focused advocacy campaigns in the future.

Media-focused advocacy campaigns involve the creation of inclusive spaces for discourse, online demonstrations, video documentaries, and creative usage of graphics and art as a means of expression and solidarity. As such, towards the end of the program, participants will have the opportunity to design and produce their own audio-visual content to highlight various gender issues. Subsequently, a special screening event to showcase participants’ efforts will be held in conjunction with International Women’s Day in March 2022.

EMPOWER’s Project Coordinator Denise Lee said, “It is important for us that the empowerment of young women is centred on them recognizing and exercising the agency within themselves. The fate of women and girls from all backgrounds should be decided by them, not others who live very differently, and so we must not only encourage this but make actual spaces for them to truly exercise their right to express freely and act on their own decisions.”

YB Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud highlighted “Advocating for gender equality and rights is not a simple endeavor, but it is possible if one is prepared with the necessary foundation. I hope this programme serves as a spark for future women leaders and activists, accelerating participants’ acquisition of information and skills necessary to excel and contribute to the creation of a sustainable society and makers of peace.”

U.S. Ambassador Brian McFeeters emphasized “We cannot understate the importance of advocacy and amplification to gain full participation from all members of society as we seek gender equality. Sexual harassment, child marriage, and violence against women are some of the predominant issues that our 20 participants in this program are working to combat. We hope to encourage further dialogue and action on these key issues, including access to education, advancing economic equality, and addressing obstacles and barriers that women and girls face.”

“Creating Agents for Change” allows young women from various backgrounds the safe space to actively engage in critical conversations on advocacy and gender issues. In addition, a variety of gender experts and advocacy groups—Amnesty International, Legal Dignity, MISI Solidariti, Justice for Sisters and many more—will be brought in to connect participants with current rights activists in Malaysia. The merger of rights-based thinking, creativity, media advocacy skills, and meaningful connections serve as instrumental stepping stones towards enhancing their capacity as young activists.

The program is part of the U.S. Embassy’s Wanita Empowered Campaign, which seeks to address barriers that restrict women’s role in society and as economic contributors to the nation’s progress. The embassy is committed to strengthening the capacity of local organizations to advocate for policy reforms, discussions, and strengthening institutional and individual skill.

Visit the website at https://www.empowermalaysia.org/creatingagentsforchange. Further enquiries on “Creating Agents for Change” can also be made via email to Denise Lee at hrsa@empowermalaysia.org.

About EMPOWER

EMPOWER undertakes work for the advancement and full realisation of women’s rights in all spheres. We believe that gender equality is a prerequisite for justice and a vibrant democracy. Our work is centred on feminist and human rights principles. We are a non-profit, non-partisan, women’s rights organisation.

About 3R Media

3R MEDIA was created to recognize the importance of women’s role in society and their ability to challenge and change the conditions in their lives and communities through the use of media. This includes mainstream media as well as social media platforms. It started out in the year 2000 as a television Programme called 3R (Respect, Relax and Respond) by Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Lina Tan. 3R collaborates with women NGOs, women communities and government bodies to create awareness of issues that affect them, knowledge building and promote female fellowship and leadership.