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500 women for Kota Kinabalu global meet
Published on: Saturday, June 08, 2024
By: Ricardo Unto
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500 women for Kota Kinabalu global meet
Liew flanked by Kong (left) and Sitti.
Kota Kinabalu: The International Women’s Conference 2024 is expected to attract 500 delegates, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

Liew said the delegates would comprise entrepreneurs, professionals, government officials and management leaders.

The conference, hosted by the Sabah Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Association (Swepa), will be held at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) from August 14 to 15.

“The conference’s theme ‘Empowering Women Leaders, Breaking Barriers, Shaping the Future’, is most apt and captures the essence of Swepa’s mission to bring women to the forefront of economic development,” she told a press conference, here, Thursday.

“I understand that this conference is not just an event. It is a movement towards creating a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”

To this end, she encouraged more Sabahan women to attend the conference for knowledge exposure, personal enhancement and professionalism towards achieving women’s empowerment.

“Globally, we have seen remarkable progress in women’s leadership. 

 “Women are leading nations, heading multinational corporations, and driving significant social change.

 “Figures like New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern and Germany’s Angela

Merkel have shown us the profound impact of having women in top leadership positions. 

“They bring a unique perspective, emphasise empathy and inclusiveness, and are often more collaborative in their approach,” she said.

However, she said, women globally still face significant barriers despite these successes. 

“According to the World Bank’s 2022 data, women face inferior income opportunities compared with men.

“Women are less likely to work for income or actively seek work, with the global labour force participation rate for women just over 50 per cent compared to 80 per cent for men. 

“Unfortunately, this percentage has remained stagnant since 1990. 

“Women are less likely to work in formal employment and have fewer opportunities for business expansion or career progression.

“When women do work, they earn less. 

“Emerging evidence from recent household survey data suggests that these gender gaps have been heightened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Liew said that as a woman, a politician, and a State Minister, she has always been an advocate of women’s rights and access to equal opportunities and resources, progress, and career advancement in all professions, including the political arena. 

“Based on figures, in the 2020 state election, only nine per cent or 43 women contested out of the 447 candidates. 

“Sadly, the current State Legislative Assembly has only eight per cent or seven assemblywomen out of 79 representatives. 

“At the Federal level, only three out of 25 Sabah Members of Parliament are women. 

 “These numbers are not just statistics as they represent a glaring gap in the representation of women in our political decision-making processes that we must confront head-on.

“Having said all that, I believe all is not lost,” she said.

She said the government is listening to women’s voices, calling for more women candidates in elections to increase women’s representation in the State Assembly and the Malaysian Parliament, thus empowering them to hold ministerial portfolios in the state and federal governments. 

“In this regard, we have set a target and are working towards its realisation.

“This brings me to the importance of the Swepa International Women’s Conference. 

“The objectives of this conference are multifaceted – professional development, addressing global challenges, building networks and partnerships, and facilitating cultural exchange.”

She hoped the two-day conference would be a platform for breaking barriers, empowering each other, and shaping the future that the people envision.

“Together, we can create a world where women leaders are not the exception but the norm,” she said.

She also said events such as the conference boost the state’s tourism promotion.

Also present were Swepa President Karen Wong, SICC CEO Datuk Rosmawati Lasuki, and Swepa International Women’s Conference organising chairperson Sitti Bahaya Damsal.

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