Press Release: Leading the way for Gender Equality in Malaysia's private sector



LeadWomen Sdn Bhd and UN Women in Asia and the Pacific
LeadWomen Sdn Bhd and UN Women in Asia and the Pacific

Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaLeadWomen Sdn Bhd and UN Women in Asia and the Pacific announced last week the continuation of their partnership on the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), an initiative launched under UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme.

During the virtual event held on 12 May 2022 to launch the 2022 WEPs campaign, both parties reiterated the importance of having a holistic approach to implementing gender-inclusive strategies that span an organisation’s value chain and impact the wider business ecosystem.

In attendance were representatives from the various industries ranging from healthcare to banking to non-profit. During the dedicated breakout sessions, attendees were able to engage directly with top industry players such as Digi Telecommunications, Vinda Group SEA, Microsoft Malaysia and expert Betty Yeoh (AWAM co-founder and Engender lead consultant) on topics such as getting leadership commitment, implementing holistic maternity leave, gender-inclusive marketing strategies, and gender-inclusive community engagement as well as addressing workplace harassment.

The WEPs were first introduced in 2010 to promote gender equality in corporations worldwide. Established by UN Women and United Nations Global Compact, the WEPs promote business practices that empower women, including equal pay for equal work, safe environments for all employees and gender-responsive work policies. Business leaders and CEOs are encouraged to become WEPs signatories to signal their commitment and the support of their organization for gender inclusivity.

The year 2021 saw a leap in Malaysian WEPs signatories with 69 companies pledging support, bringing the total to 77, and 61 companies attended training session on WEPs implementation. At the first-ever Malaysia WEPs Awards in 2021, 15 companies, including Intel Malaysia, Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia and CNetG Asia, were recognized for their exemplary achievements in advancing gender equality. The 2021 WEPs Awards also recognized three SMEs that made great strides towards gender equality, namely Rinne Technologies, Threemendous Films and GoodKids Malaysia.

Commenting on the positive outlook for gender equality in the Malaysian business sector, Anne Abraham, founder and chairperson of Leadwomen said, “The Women’s Empowerment Principles is a holistic way to drive gender equality across the private sector. With the increased focus for private sector alignment to SDG 5 from the global business and investor community, the extension of LeadWomen and UN Women partnership until 2024 is strategic and critical for Malaysia.”

According to the 2018 McKinsey Power of Parity report, the achievement of gender equality by 2025 would increase gross domestic product (GDP) in Asia and the Pacific by USD 4.5 trillion annually. During the pandemic, the commitment to achieve gender equality became even more important as many women in the region were further disadvantaged by the increasing burden of unpaid care work, and women were more likely than men to exit the workforce after losing their job.

The WeEmpowerAsia initiative, funded by and in partnership with the European Union, aims to increase the number of women across Asia and the Pacific who participate in and lead the private sector to create better opportunities for women and accelerate sustainable growth.

“As WeEmpowerAsia’s key implementing partner in Malaysia since 2020, LeadWomen has been vital for UN Women’s efforts to raise private sector commitment to and implementation of the WEPs,” said Sarah Knibbs, Officer-in-Charge for UN Women Asia and the Pacific, “We are thrilled to embark on this new partnership that will leverage our collective strengths and networks, deepen our existing work to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community, and ultimately accelerate progress towards a gender-inclusive business landscape in Malaysia.”

In Malaysia in 2021, women in senior management positions reached an all-time high at 40 per cent according to Grant Thornton Malaysia. The increase was due in part to inclusive company policies that allow employees to have greater flexibility. Grant Thorton estimated that women account for 38 per cent of CEOs in 2022. The representation of women on the boards of the top 100 publicly traded companies in Malaysia has also continued to increase to 26.5% with organizations such as LeadWomen and the 30 per cent Club pushing for greater gender balance at the board level.

The virtual event also launched the 2022 Malaysia WEPs Awards, and all Malaysian registered businesses and enterprises, industry associations, stock exchanges and chambers of commerce are eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted by 30 June 2022. For more information and to submit your application, visit

For media inquiries, please contact:

Lok Shi Shuen

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant
LeadWomen | Email: | Tel.: +603 2035 9710

Amy Baum

International Consultant, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific | Email:

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

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