R. Shrissha, 16, grew up in a household where gender roles were clearly delineated and predetermined.
“I am the youngest of four siblings. From a very young age, my mother had made it clear that certain jobs are best left to my two older brothers and that my sister and I should concentrate on other chores like cleaning and helping her with cooking,” she said.
The student of SMK Datuk Haji Abdul Wahab who joined the Maharani programme four years ago said the experience was an eye-opener.
“Before joining the programme, I grew up believing that only men can do anything that they want. Now I realise women are equal to men and there is nothing that stops us from exploring the world,” she said.
Little by little, she started helping her father who is a technician.
“My older siblings were busy with their studies and naturally the responsibility to help my father around the house fell on me. Now, I can change car tires, do minor car repairs, and service the air-conditioner at home,” she said.
“I am not going to let my gender be a barrier that prevents me from learning something new or picking up a skill,” she added.
Shrissha said she had initially signed up for the Maharani programme because of her friends and never expected to enjoy the experience so much.
“I learned a lot from the Maharani programme and the camps. It changed me for the better. Now I feel that I am more approachable and friendlier,” said Shrissha who also attended the Maharani academic coaching classes.
“I wish I can attend the Maharani camp one more time before I appear for my public examination next year. I really could do with the motivation and believe it will help me with performing better in my exam,” she added.
Shrissha who loves Korean pop culture bands and dancing said Maharani is a progamme that all girls must attend as it boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
The Maharani Programme, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020, was initiated by RYTHM Foundation in 2010 and has helped over 7500 girls in Malaysia between the ages of 13 to 16 from poor and marginalised communities, providing skills and knowledge to enable them to identify and work towards their full potential.