Alumna will bring experiences from Malaysia, women empowerment

Ohio University students will have the opportunity to hear stories of women’s rights and experiences in a Southeast Asian country from someone who experienced them firsthand.

An Ohio University Malaysian alumna will speak to students Tuesday about her experiences and her work with strengthening women in rural Malaysia.

Dato Ir. Alice Jawan Empaling, who graduated in 1997 with a degree in civil engineering, will share her knowledge about Dayak women, or Malaysians from the island Borneo, which is off the coast of Malaysia.

“I worked with Dayak women in mostly rural areas; empowering them through knowledge on the importance of Dayak women’s participation in the development of the nation,” Empaling said in an email.

Empaling also served as the president of the General Conference of Methodist Women and the Methodist Church of Malaysia. Additionally, she was the manager of Sibu Water Board, an organization focused on the provision of safe, reliable and competitively priced water supply in Malaysia, according to its website.

Empaling said she wanted to share the importance of education in regards to rural women, which she called a main difference between the United States and Malaysia.

The “Empowering Women: Experiences in Malaysia” event, which is free to attend and will take place at the Yamada International House, will focus on her experiences working with Dayak women and encouraging them to get an education while listening to their struggles, Empaling said.

The goal of the event is to create an awareness at OU while showing that there are opportunities for the United States and Malaysia to work together and support each other, Empaling said.

Jayum Jawan, a visiting professor in the political science department who organized the event, said he wanted to show how the two countries are very similar, and that those living in both the United States and Malaysia want citizens to participate in bettering their societies.

Jawan said OU has done well in the past with providing programming to help students understand and learn more about Southeast Asian countries.

“I think this one is another dimension and example that will enhance further our students’ understanding of Southeast Asia,” Jawan said.

Jawan is also the Tun Abdul Razak Chair at OU, an organization focused on improving Malaysian-American understanding and helping educate Malaysians and Americans, according to the OU website.

Jawan said he also wants to create a dialogue at the event where students could discuss and share their own experiences with empowering women.

“I’m hoping that there are people in Athens at the university and the community as well that will come and also share their experiences, so when (Empaling will) go back to Malaysia, she will have something to bring back and help further in her work with women,” Jawan said.

Diane Smith, a sophomore studying communication science and disorders, said she would go to the event because she thinks education is important and more events like these are needed.

“It could be very informative for a lot of people to hear a different perspective on education and empowerment in women,” Smith said.

Source: The Post. Date: 22 August 2016