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USM PENANG, 11 February 2024 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is all set to co-organise the Penang state-level International Women’s Day 2024 (IWD 2024) on 7 March 2024, in collaboration with the Penang Women's Development Corporation (PWDC).

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Speaking to the media at a press conference held yesterday to announce the collaboration and celebration, the Penang State Social Development, Welfare, and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman, Lim Siew Khim said, the state via PWDC is delighted to have USM on board as the co-organiser for the first time.

“USM’s direct involvement opens a new dimension in the efforts to empower women in the nation and in particular Penang in order to achieve the goal of gender equality.

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“This is also very much in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 5 which concerns achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls,” she said.  

USM Women and Gender Research Centre (KANITA) Director, Professor Dr. Saidatulakmal Mohd, in representing the USM Vice-Chancellor, expressed gratitude towards the state government for supporting women-centred and women empowerment programmes.

“Occupying the fourth position in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE-GIR) Impact Rankings and the first position in Asia in the sustainability ranking list for two consecutive years, USM has and will continue to empower and incorporate SDG 5 (Gender Equality) in research, teaching and learning, and activities related to ‘University Social Responsibility (USR).’  

“We have built a strong network with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, as well as many other ministries and government agencies in terms of research to help raise the socioeconomic levels and empower women's leadership,” she said, while adding that KANITA which had attained the Ministry of Higher Education’s Centre of Excellence status in 1978, has been instrumental in championing the cause.

At the press conference, it was also announced that over 2,000 participants are expected to join the launch ceremony on 7 March at USM's Dewan Tuanku Syed Putra.

This will include civil servants, academia, the corporate sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and the general public.

The launch ceremony will be graced by TYT Tun Dato’ Seri Utama Ahmad Fuzi bin Haji Abdul Razak, the Head of State of Penang, and YABhg. Toh Puan Dato’ Seri Utama Khadijah binti Mohd Nor, and several local dignitaries.

Following that, a forum called 'Forum Bicarawara,' featuring famous social media influencers, namely Dr. Malar Santhi Santherasegapan, Dr. Beth Wei Yin Yam, and Mona Din, will be conducted. The Forum will be moderated by Professor Saidatulakmal.

Later, in the evening a mini explore race with the title, 'Purple Challenge', will also take place in the USM campus, where some 100 teams comprising both women and men are targeted to take part.

Registrations for the race would be open until 3 March, with a fee of RM50 per team. Participants registering by 20 Feb are entitled to an early bird rate of RM40.

Each participant will be awarded an e-certificate, a t-shirt, and an exclusive medal. Registration can be done via PWDC's Facebook page.

PWDC CEO, Dato’ Ong Bee Leng also announced that IWD 2024 festivities will continue throughout March with various programmes organised by PWDC's strategic partners.

She expressed her aspiration for Penangites to honour the women in their lives through these celebrations, while reminding everyone to wear purple on 8 March, where the International Women’s Day is observed annually, to show their support for the campaign.

Meanwhile, USM's Community Network Director, Dr. Ainul Mohsein Abdul Mohsin took the opportunity to encourage participants of the explore race to bring their own containers, in line with the university's advocacy for zero plastic usage.

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Also present at the press conference were the former KANITA Director, Professor Dr. Noraida Endut; and PWDC’s strategic partners.

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March since 1911.

It offers an opportunity to reflect on progress made, to call for change, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. 

This year’s IWD campaign theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ is intended to inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, and to instil a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment among women, towards forging a better and more inclusive world.

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Text: Tan Ewe Hoe/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa 

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