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The Launching New Office of Penang Women's Development Corporation (PWDC Sdn Bhd)



Wednesday, 12th December 2012

PWDC Office, 47th Floor KOMTAR, Penang

YB Lydia Ong Kok Fooi, Penang State EXCO and Chair of the Board of Directors, PWDC

YB Chong Eng, Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam and Member of the Board of Directors, PWDC

Dato’ Farizan Darus, State Secretary

Dato’ Mokhtar Mohd Jait, Pegawai Kewangan Negeri

Honourable representatives from MPPP and MPSP,

Esteemed Members of the Board of Directors, PWDC,

Cik Sri Husnaini Sofjan, CEO, together with staff and affiliates of PWDC,

Ladies and gentlemen.

I wish you a very good afternoon and a warm welcome to the new home of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation or PWDC.

I stand here before you today proud to be part of history – or should I say, HERstory – in the making. As a body set up and fully funded by the Penang State Government under the structure of a private non-profit company, PWDC is the equivalent of the Women’s Ministry at Penang State level and the first of its kind in our 55 years since Independence.

Good things do not suddenly emerge from nowhere. Many of you may wonder how PWDC came about. My old friend Dr Cecilia Ng, renowned scholar, longtime women’s rights activist and Member of PWDC’s Board Directors, says it was about the “right time, right place and some luck”. And so, this is a good opportunity to reflect on the four years or so of political transformation, fortuitous circumstances and above all, sheer hard work behind the proud young organisation and beautiful office that we are in today.

When the Pakatan government took over Penang after March 2008, the Women’s Development Department or Jabatan Pembangunan Wanita, withdrew its financial and personnel support from the State government within a matter of months. YB Lydia, then the newly appointed Exco Member for Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development, was left with virtually no resources in terms of mechanisms and not much more by way of funding.

Through the support of the State Government an advisory group comprising various women’s and community NGOs was set up. The following year in 2009, as the annual state allocation for women’s development increased, the Pusat Perkhidmatan Wanita (PPW) Seberang Perai and two childcare centres in Berapit and Rifle Range was also established.

NGO known as the Good Governance and Gender Equality Society (3Gs), alongside other NGO programmes was supported, all of which contributed slowly but surely to capacity development for women in the state.

Over the next two years, it became evident that a state machinery was necessary to further enhance the programmes of the MMK. Much lobbying took place at both the formal and informal levels. A Gender Mainstreaming Conference organized by 3Gs in mid-2010 saw 200 participants urging the State Government to adopt the recommendations of its Declaration on Gender Equality in order to achieve gender justice in Penang, including the implementation of gender responsive budgeting.

As a pro-women and sensitive government, we agreed to the formation of a women’s council in Penang and the rest, they say, is HERstory with an allocation of RM1.5 million.

PWDC was formed in November 2011 and came into operations on the 2nd of January 2012. Since then, in the short space of less than a year, it has provided awareness raising, women’s leadership and empowerment, and various forms of capacity development trainings in gender and good governance to over 500 people (mostly women but also men, for gender equality involves both) in all five districts in the State of Penang, including through its flagship project on Gender Responsive Budgeting which has received tremendous support from both the MPPP and the MPSP. This is an admirable achievement for such a young organisation. Indeed, it speaks volumes : that not only is gender equality in Penang an idea whose time has come, but also that women in Penang are no less than a force to be reckoned with.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is fitting to give credit where credit is due. I dare say that PWDC was built on the backs of civil society, with the support of a state government that is progressive and inclusive in outlook and approach. On behalf of the Penang State Government, I recognise in particular the contribution of dedicated women activists such as Dr Cecilia Ng, Ms Loh Cheng Kooi, Professor Datin Dr. Rashidah Shuib, Dr Marina David, and many more who have given so much of themselves over the years. Above all, I pay tribute to YB Lydia Ong herself who has sacrificed almost her entire personal life in terms of time with her family in providing tireless service to the state and the rakyat. A special mention goes out also to YB Chong Eng, whose profound wisdom, experience and energy have contributed invaluably to this endeavor. Please join me in a round of applause to honour these amazing women in whose presence we stand today.

Ladies and gentleman,

What lies ahead? I have the pleasure of reminding you all that for the coming year, the Penang State Government has committed to a total of RM2.3 million funding towards women’s development, RM1.5 million of which goes into continued funding of PWDC and the important work it does towards gender mainstreaming, good governance and social justice in the state. We urge you to join and support us in our journey as a government that cares for its people, whether women, men, children, from all walks of life – a journey in which Penang leads!

With that, it is my absolute delight and privilege to launch the new office of the PWDC, and to welcome them to the fold so to speak. SYABAS!

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