LeadWomen and UN Women invite top 300 Malaysian companies to commit to gender equality


[Press release]

A team of businesswomen of different ethnicity working together at a team meeting. The EU-funded WeEmpowerAsia programme of UN Women works to empower women in business across seven Asian countries, including Malaysia. For more information about WeEmpowerAsia, visit http://weempowerasia.org. Photo: Shutterstock/Blue Planet Studio

Kuala LumpurLeadWomen Sdn Bhd and UN Women today announced new and expansive commitments for the economic empowerment of women that will target 300 leading companies in Malaysia by September 2021.

The commitments – announced by LeadWomen's Founder/Chair Anne Abraham and CEO Dr. Marcella Lucas and UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia Regional Programme Manager Katja Freiwald – are part of a growing movement in Asia to realise women’s full and equal participation in the economy and the unmet business potential, guided by the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

LeadWomen CEO Dr. Marcella Lucas is proud of the collaboration and opportunities it will bring: “LeadWomen is incredibly honoured to be taking on this role. The WEPs Principles fall directly in line with the work that LeadWomen has been involved in over the past 9 years. Previous progress has been a critical step in the right direction, but the momentum must be maintained. This partnership will permit and accelerate the overarching objective of increasing women’s representation at the leadership level and across entire organisations and the marketplace.”

Established by UN Women and United Nations Global Compact, the WEPs promote business practices that empower women. For Malaysia’s companies, signing the WEPs demonstrates a top-down commitment by CEOs, of the highest calibre, to collaborate with multi-stakeholder networks on issues such as increased representation of women in key decision-making roles, equal pay for work of equal value, gender-responsive supply chain practices and zero tolerance against sexual harassment in the workplace. To achieve this, the WeEmpowerAsia programme, a UN Women initiative funded by the European Union, will be leveraged for its technical support with help from LeadWomen.

WeEmpowerAsia Regional Lead Katja Freiwald highlighted the opportunities this will provide: “LeadWomen’s tireless efforts in the field of women’s economic empowerment have supported and encouraged many aspiring women leaders across sectors. Together, we will get one big step closer to advancing our shared goals. To date, we have more than 3,650 WEPs signatories worldwide, and joining the WEPs community means being part of this global initiative.”

The LeadWomen-UN Women collaboration will involve two workstreams. This includes raising awareness about the WEPs among 300 selected companies in Malaysia through a series of dedicated webinars, the first of which will be held on November 5, 2020. LeadWomen will also work closely with companies providing tailored assistance to support their WEPs implementation across their industry and value chains. A UN Women WEPs Activator Malaysia Campaign Launch is set for December 2, 2020.

Malaysia has held the Sustainable Development Goals at the core of its development action by reducing poverty and promoting greater equality of income and opportunities as well as the rights of women and girls. These efforts have led to numerous changes in female economic empowerment, including an increased female labour participation rate at 54 per cent and, as of 2017, the number of women in Malaysia's decision-making public sector positions has also exceeded 30 per cent. LeadWomen has been one of the key stakeholders in driving for increased women representation on boards of Malaysian public listed companies (PLCs) since 2012. This effort has contributed towards achieving 26.3 per cent women directors on the top 100 PLC boards to-date[1] .

As part of this collaboration, LeadWomen is supporting UN Women on the “2020 Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards” honouring exceptional business practices for gender equality. The closing date for applications has been extended to October 5, 2020 (Bangkok time). For more information and to apply, visit www.asiapacificwepsawards.org.


For further enquiries, please contact: 

Liza Liew 
Inclusion & Diversity Assistant Consultant 
Email: info@lead-women.com | Tel.: +603 2035 9710

Minji Kwag
International Communications Consultant, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Email: minji.kwag@unwomen.org


About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

About the European Union
The European Union is made up of 27 member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development while maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms.

About WeEmpowerAsia 
WeEmpowerAsia, a programme funded by and in partnership with the European Union seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. A key component of the programme is to mobilize private sector companies to become gender-responsive by committing to and implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). For more, visit http://weempowerasia.org

About LeadWomen
Founded in 2011, LeadWomen Sdn Bhd is a driving force for diversity leadership at the Board and C-suite levels in Malaysia. With a mission to increase women representation on the boards of corporate Malaysia, LeadWomen delivers through advocacy, training and development, sourcing and advisory of board-ready women. These efforts are reflected in the increased rate of women on the Board of Directors on the Top 100 Public Listed Companies from 8 per cent in 2010, to more than 28 per cent at the end of 2019. As such, these results and objectives championed by LeadWomen align well with the WEPs Malaysian Activator Campaign values and ensures this momentum continues. For more, visit https://lead-women.com.


  1. Government of Malaysia, 2017
  2. Statista, 2020



[1] "Malaysia - Planipolis - UNESCO." https://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/sites/planipolis/files/ressources/malaysia_sdg.pdf. Accessed 11 Sep. 2020.