The World YWCA in Malaysia
The World YWCA recently visited Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to attend a three day workshop “Southern Voices: Reclaiming and Redefining the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Agenda for 2015” organised by the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research centre for Women (ARROW). The World YWCA is part of the global ARROW project The Global South, which aims to give southern civil society the means and avenue of articulating a regional Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) agenda and distilling regional agendas into a global SRHR agenda. The ARROW project is currently engaged with the World YWCA in generating a global report on the regional and global SRHR agenda.
The ARROW project also aims to use a state of the region report methodology to articulate this agenda. Data analysis, trend analysis in issues, anticipated future trends and current realities will form the bulwark of the report. The regional reports will come from the 5 regions in the global south and will be lead by an expert NGO: the World YWCA is the NGO expert for Africa and is leading the research in this region. The strength of the agendas are demonstrated by evidence and data coupled with perspectives and experiences of YWCA practitioners on the ground.
The workshop in Kuala Lumpur gave the opportunity for the NGOs leading on the report and the regions to come together to present their draft regional reports to the Chief reviewer Dr. TK Sundri Ravindran. As part of the project, participants have incorporated the findings of a questionnaire synthesis into the regional reports to add to the perspective of other NGO stakeholders in the respective region. The questionnaire aims to share the voices of the women from the region and incorporate this in respective regional report chapters. In Africa, YWCA Member Associations have gone into their local communities and conducted questionnaires focusing on SRHR with women and young women including those affected by HIV and AIDS. The World YWCA SRHR programme focuses on the factors contributing to SRHR issues facing young women and girls such as the lack of information and access to sexual and reproductive health services.
Whilst in Malaysia, Nelly Lukale World YWCA Programme Associate visited the YWCA of Malaysia. The association is made up of eight local YWCA centres, of which Nelly Lukale visited the Kuala Lumpur branch, the Rumah Perlindungan Sosial branch and the Pusat Kasih Sayang branch. The Kuala Lumpur branch was created in 1913 and continues to offer training and support to economically disadvantaged young women and girls. In 1998, the branch developed a vocational training programme and up to now has trained over 1,000 girls. Through the programme various courses are offered including computer science, secretarial tools and basic accounting, nursery teacher training, health and social care plus many more. As part of the programme students are sent on work placement to different nurseries, nursing homes, beauty shops and restaurants to do their practical training. Nelly Lukale shared “Most girls had lost hope in life because their parents or guardians could not pay school fees. They were so grateful to the YWCA movement for giving them this opportunity as now they have the self confidence that they can make it in life”.
The second branch Nelly Lukale visited was the Rumah Perlindungan Sosial branch, which is a joint project by the National Council of Women’s Organisation and the YWCA of Malaysia. It provides holistic help for women, children and teenagers in crisis situations, including victims of domestic violence, single mothers, rape survivors, abused children and run away teens. Their clients are always referred to them by the government and local NGOs. Most of the young women at this centre are unable to leave and live independently as they have no family support and are unable to earn an adequate income. Currently the home has 27 children from one to 16 years old and after 17, the girls join the Kuala Lumpur vocational training programme.
Lastly, the Pusat Kasih Sayang branch is a residential home and training centre for disabled women, young women and girls. This project was set up in 1993 and it aims to advocate for the recognition of these women as an integral part of society and to assist, train and support them to lead as independent a life as possible. Furthermore, to enhance their physical, mental, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual areas of life, so as to provide them with holistic development. Reflecting on this Nelly Lukale shared, “We need to empower young women in the community to support other young women as the problem for this branch is the lack of volunteers. We need to generate greater global awareness and empathy”.
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