This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) seeks a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world where women’s equality is valued and celebrated. At the heart of this year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity is the idea that women must have equal access to opportunities, resources, and protections to achieve their full potential.
Empowering women has always been a core focus of RYTHM Foundation, the social impact initiative of the QI Group. On this IWD, we highlight the unique stories of incredible women and their struggles, triumphs, and contributions toward creating a more equitable society for women and girls worldwide.
We emphasise these narratives alongside the Foundation’s initiatives and projects supporting and empowering them. As championing equality is crucial to RYTHM’s mission of promoting sustainable development and social change, we believe supporting and empowering females builds a more inclusive world for all.
Those spotlighted here are from diverse backgrounds and have faced differing challenges. However, they all share a common trait: they have refused to let adversity, the lack of opportunities, and even different abilities define them.
The Uplifting Journey of ‘Womenpreneurs’ Intan, Zulikhah and Geeta
In Malaysia, over 80% of single mothers from the bottom 40% of income earners live below the poverty line. So, Quest International University (QIU), the education arm of QI, organised a workshop series called “Womenpreneur A to Z” in 2022 to support these women.
The series aimed to help them develop food preparation, digital marketing, financial literacy, and business development skills. The programme was successful, and three women who participated in the initiative shared how it helped them improve their knowledge and entrepreneurial skills. Over several months, Intan, Zulikhah, and Geeta learned to start, source capital, and develop their food endeavours.
Their story: Quest International University Helps B40 Women Improve Their Entrepreneurial Skills
Also read: QIU and RYTHM Collaborate on Life-changing Community Impact Programme for Faculty and Students
Laibie’s Big Dreams for a Small Food Venture
Laibie Anting, a member of the isolated Dusun tribe in Sabah, East Malaysia, has shown unwavering determination in pursuing her entrepreneurial venture selling traditional local food and snacks.
Despite the challenges of living in a remote village, Laibie is part of the Women in Small Enterprises (WISE) project by Good Shepherd Services and RYTHM, which helps female beneficiaries acquire the skills to start and operate micro-enterprises. As a result, modest ventures like Laibie’s empower women like her and support the local economy’s growth.
Laibie’s story: Laibie Braves the Food Business with Community Adoption Programme in Sabah
Also read: Community Adoption Programme Beneficiaries in Sabah Show Remarkable Improvement and Growth
Also read: Community Adoption Programme in Sabah Leads Off With Academic, Youth Empowerment Facets
Amara’s Voyage from Poverty to Olympic Podium
Amara Wichitong, a celebrated champion windsurfer and former Olympian, grew up in poverty and faced gut-wrenching struggles on her journey to become a world champion at 17. She is now part of a community empowerment initiative in Thailand by RYTHM and the ASA Foundation, which coaches women, including single mothers and those from low-income families, to impact positive change for 10,000 disadvantaged women and girls.
Amara’s inspirational story is a testament to the impact of this programme and how it can transform the lives of women in impoverished communities. The initiative also promotes gender equality by educating girls in remote parts of the Chonburi province and breaking gender stereotypes.
Amara’s story: Amara Wichitong is Riding the Waves of Life – and Winning at It
Also read: Joint Initiative Launched To Educate And Empower Females In Rural Thailand
Also read: RYTHM-ASA Partnership In Thailand Takes Off To A Swift Start
Maggie’s Passage to Clean Water
Meet Magdalena “Maggie” Mwamtende, a farmer and one of the millions of rural Tanzanians who have experienced the hardships of not having access to clean water. Growing up in poverty, she had to skip school and trek long distances to collect water for her family.
Today, thanks to RYTHM and Water for Africa (WFA), Maggie and others in rural areas have easier access to clean water through water wells installed in several villages. The wells also provide employment opportunities to locals through a farming initiative that funds the maintenance of the water sources.
Maggie’s story: For Tanzanian Farmer Magdalena Mwamtende, Wells Hold Much More Than Water
Lurdhu Mary Rises Over Rural Hardships
Amidst the struggles of rural poverty in Sri Lanka, stories of resilience and determination shine through. Lurdhu Mary, a candlemaker and mother of two, is defying the odds and working towards financial stability despite mounting challenges. Her story is not only a testament to her strength but also to the power of Sri Lankan women.
RYTHM has partnered with the local non-profit Women’s Development Centre (WDC) to empower women like Lurdhu, children, the differently-abled, and other marginalised groups through various forms of assistance. As a result, with an unshakable support system behind her, Lurdhu has rekindled her sense of self-worth and found the courage to embrace her future potential.
Lurdhu’s story: From Poverty to Promise: The Venture Giving Candlemaker Lurdhu Mary a Brighter Future
Also read: From Silence to Supported: The Journey of a Sri Lankan Entrepreneur with Hearing Loss
Ravina’s Mission Against Sexual Abuse
Ravina, a young teacher from Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, is one of 26 educators trained by RYTHM and LEADS Sri Lanka to prevent child sexual abuse in the locality. The joint project aims to create a safer and healthier environment for vulnerable children while providing support and skills training for low-income families.
The project is a shining example of the Foundation’s commitment to advocating for every child’s right to live free from violence, exploitation, and abuse. The project aims to reduce risks for vulnerable children in Mullaitivu and expand to other areas by creating awareness and supporting community development.
Ravina’s Story: Sri Lankan Teacher Ravina Combats Violence Against Children
Winners: Dr Becky Clark and Inclusion
Dr Becky Clark’s story is remarkable – a tale of triumph over adversity shaped by sports. Despite losing her hearing as a child, she became a standout athlete in various sports in high school, university, and the Deaflympics. But, for Dr Clark, sports have been much more than just a way to stay fit and healthy; it has taught her how to manage adversity, endure hard times, and build leadership skills.
Dr Clark uses her experiences as a sports diplomat to help others today in sports education programmes. One example is a joint RYTHM-ASA Foundation project in Thailand. The initiative aims to empower rural communities in Chonburi Province and build the skills and confidence of young people through sports. Dr Clark shows that sports can be a powerful force for positive change by promoting the right to education and freedom from discrimination.
Dr Clark’s story: Empowering Girls and Women – 7 Actions to Start Right Now
Also read: Ways to Empower Girls to Use Their Voices to Speak Out and Be Heard