UN Women and European Union award gender-equality prize to Malaysia’s top private-sector companies


[Press release]

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Fifteen outstanding Malaysian private-sector organizations and business leaders were celebrated as awardees of the 2021 Malaysia WEPs Awards Ceremony on 29 October 2021. The champions were among applicants evaluated by a panel of six high-calibre judges from investment organizations, boards of directors, academia, and women and youth empowerment organizations.

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged Malaysian economies like never before and opened the door for remarkable stories of business adaptability and innovation to improve a range of gender issues in the country. The WEPs Awards celebrate these outstanding policies and practices to advance gender equality in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Sarah Knibbs, UN Women Representative for Asia and the Pacific, commended the efforts made in the country’s business community overall. “The surge in WEPs signatories in Malaysia over the past year is an impressive demonstration of commitment,” she said.

“The UN Women WEPs Activator Campaign with LeadWomen is helping companies translate this commitment into action empowering women across the value chain. We are proud to celebrate the first WEP Awards in Malaysia to make these efforts visible, showcase best practices, and inspire others to act and create a more gender-inclusive world.”

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, Karima El Korri, echoed the importance of gender equality in the business sector.

”Transformative change comes from multi-sector collaboration, and we recognize that the private sector has a unique role and responsibility in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

“As the only framework that provides businesses with a roadmap to achieve gender equality across their entire value chain, the WEPs are a powerful vehicle for businesses of all sizes and sectors to contribute to inclusive, sustainable development while also boosting their productivity, growth and innovation.”

Michalis Rokas, Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia also shared the importance of gender equality to the EU. ”The fight for gender equality is a top priority for the EU and is included in our EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“We are proud partners of the WeEmpowerAsia project together with UN Women and a number of local actors working on the economic empowerment of women in Malaysia. Today’s WEP Awards are a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate Malaysian companies with outstanding workplace policies and practices to advance gender equality.”

Anne Abraham, founder of LeadWomen, shared her thoughts on the importance of the awards, “We are indeed proud that for the very first time, Malaysia is hosting The UN Women Empowerment Principle’s (WEPs) Awards, which will comprehensively showcase gender equality good practices from the local business sector. It is very encouraging to note that companies are recognizing the accelerating need to enforce gender equity practices for long-term sustainability, in line with the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) goals. We’d like to extend our gratitude to UN Women Asia and the Pacific for the partnership with Leadwomen to roll out of the UN WEPs programme in Malaysia.”  

The Malaysian WEPs Awards was organized by UN Women in collaboration with community organization LeadWomen, the implementation partner of WeEmpowerAsia in Malaysia, including special support from the SME Corporation of Malaysia. The WeEmpowerAsia programme is funded by and in partnership with the European Commission.

The event was part of a series of WEP Awards ceremonies held in the Philippines, Thailand, China, Viet Nam, Indonesia and India in October 2021. The first-place winners from all countries will have the chance to be selected as Asia-Pacific winners at the WEPs Awards Regional Ceremony on 18 November 2021 in Bangkok.

The full list of WEPs Awards awardees given in five categories are as follows:  

Leadership Commitment

  • Winner: Professor Elizabeth Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Sunway Education Group
  • 1st Runner Up: IR Prof. Dr Leong Wai Yie Director of Research Innovation, Perdana University
  • 2nd Runner Up: Tunku Rozita Malek, Non-Executive Director, abrdn Islamic Malaysia Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Aberdeen Standard Islamic Investments (M) Sdn Bhd)
  • SME Champion: Yuki Aizawa, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Rinne Technologies and Consulting

Gender-Inclusive Workplace

  • Winner: Intel Malaysia 
  • 1st Runner Up: Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad
  • 2nd Runner Up: Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd

Gender-Responsive Marketplace

  • Winner: CnetG Asia Sdn Bhd

Community Engagement and Partnerships

  • Winner: Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia and Standard Chartered Saadiq Malaysia
  • 1st Runner Up: Deloitte Southeast Asia
  • 2nd Runner Up: Forest Interactive
  • SME Champion: GoodKids Malaysia

Youth Leadership:

  • Winner: Toh Yin Li, Business Manager, Co-Founder of Women at Maxis, Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd
  • 1st Runner Up: Fatin Fatihah Zahari, Cloud Adoption Engineer, Microsoft Corporation
  • SME Champion: Prisca Wong, Founder and Producer, Threemendous Films

About WeEmpowerAsia

WeEmpowerAsia is a UN Women programme funded by and in partnership with the European Union that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. For more information, visit http://weempowerasia.org

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organization was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on women’s rights worldwide. UN Women’s efforts are based on the fundamental belief that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and that gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving global development.

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.