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2 Malaysians among world's '100 most inspiring people'
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New Straits Times, Wednesday 2 March 2011
by Lydia Gomez
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KUALA LUMPUR: Two prominent Malaysian women have been included in a New York-based global advocacy’s list of 100 most inspiring people around the world for their work in advocating the rights of women and girls. Zainah Anwar - who founded Sisters In Islam (SIS) and is the project director of Musawah, an international collaborative group for equality and justice in the Muslim family - and blogger, women’s rights and HIV/AIDS awareness advocate Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir were named in the list put out by Women Deliver.

Zainah and Marina joined the rank of other distinguished personalities including former US first lady Laura Bush, ABC news anchor and tv personality Christiane Amanpour, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, CNN Hero of the Year and anti-sex trafficking activist Anuradha Koirala, talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey and Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

The list, announced in New York yesterday, was compiled based on the recipients’ work in improving the lives of women and girls in the fields of health, human rights, politics, economics, education, journalism and philanthropy.

Zainah who occupied the seventh position in the list, said she was informed of her inclusion in the list in mid-February.

“It is an honour for Sisters in Islam's work to be recognised at the global level. Our work breaks the myth that Muslim women are oppressed and victimised, and further breaks the myth that Islam is inherently a religion that discriminates against women,” she said.

Zainah described her biggest achievement was in empowering Muslim women to claim their right to be treated as human beings of equal worth and dignity.

She added Musawah, which was initiated by Sisters in Islam two years ago and led by an international committee of scholars and activists from Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Gambia, Nigeria, Iran, the United States and the United Kingdom, had become a source of hope for change in the Muslim world.

The organisation was also invited to Geneva to give briefings to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee).

Meanwhile, Marina, who occupied the 57th position, said Women Deliver contacted her through her blog last week.

“I am very honoured to be named in the list. I think it’s nice that Malaysia is recognised. It makes people aware of Malaysia and we get international recognition. People will also take us more seriously,” said Marina who is also a SIS board member.

In a press statement released yesterday, Women Deliver president Jill Sheffield said last year had been “widely viewed as the year women’s issues finally came to the fore in international development.

“This list recognises those who successfully navigated the corridors of power, along with those on the front lines, who have worked to expand the rights and choices for girls and women everywhere,” she said.

Other countries in the region mentioned in the list were Cambodia and Philippines with one and two representatives each. Representation from Sub-Saharan nations was the highest with 26 names followed by the Middle East and North Africa with 20 names.

Women Deliver, launched in 2007, promotes and advances the health of girls, women and mothers and serves as a global source of information for advocacy and action.

Among its advisors are Amnesty International, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

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