Participants from WLP’s most recent Global Training of Trainers (TOT) in Malaysia blog about their experiences:
More Convinced of My Cause
By Endok Sempo M Tahir, WIRDA, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Attending the WLP/AWAM National Training of Trainers Institute for Women’s Leadership and Political Participation is a priceless, nurturing and inspiring experience. It was fun, enriching and mind-stretching—and gave us all a sense of contribution. I learnt a lot of creative ideas to raise funds and to walk away feeling empowered and inspired. The practices of horizontal leadership were shown by the facilitators and trainers, enjoyable participatory involvement of team members, furnished with group role plays and exciting games and energizers, humorous “acting” and the fantastic Marian “quotation” sung by Ho Yock Lin to Michael Jackson’s rhyme, were really, really, entertaining and unforgettable.
This training makes me more convinced of my cause to help other women to help themselves. I’m inspired to be a leader! The workshop allows me to understand and to share what other women love to do. Women love to get together, to support and inspire each other, contribute to those in need, and express our passions.
I have been blessed to experience all of the above in a fulfilling workshop! Our mission is to inspire women to connect to their women’s rights idealism. Leadership and advocacy is part and parcel of the cause. The ingredients of the struggle are inner strength and passion, the power of the feminine spirit and courage to live from our true, authentic self.
In short, this training assisted women in nurturing mind, body, and spirit. This workshop was an empowering, uplifting, nurturing and inspiring experience for me and I think would be for all women too! This is a gift to myself and my organisation. When we take care of ourselves inside and out, we are then able to take care of, to serve and love those around us more fully!
Anyone Can Inspire
By Sabrina Aripen, SAWO, Sabah, Malaysia
WLP/AWAM’s National Training of Trainers Institute for Women’s Leadership and Political Participation (NTOT) was something I had been looking forward to. Apart from it being a break from my usual routine, the topic is quite timely and something I am quite interested in due to recent events in the political arena in my country.
The N-TOT included 23 women, all from different organisations throughout Malaysia. Majoree and I were the only participants from Borneo. I was very impressed with the very participatory and vocal nature of the participants.
The trainers we had for the session were pretty impressive too, hailing all the way from Nigeria and Egypt with valuable nuggets of information to share with all of us about the political landscape in their own countries.
I felt totally comfortable with all of the participants; we were all of the same kind – passionate about issues that were happening in the country. Everyone was either an activist, or someone who is actively pursuing a cause. I fit right in from the first day.
One of the activities we did on the first day was to draw with our less dominant hand, in my case – the left hand, a picture of the woman who inspired us and write a word to describe how she inspired us. I couldn’t pin-point just one person, so in the end I chickened out and chose my mum for her resilience.
The truth is that we are inspired by so many people in our lives. Anyone can inspire, anyone can be a leader. And we too can be a leader, whether we realize it or not.
All through the four days, we laughed, we shared, and we gave our best input. I think it was the most enjoyable training I ever had, and some of the most creative too. Everyone was given a chance to be a part of a host team – to be the time-keeper, take care of group dynamics, documentation etc. I also took the chance to try and co-facilitate a session, though I think the facilitator was great and could carry it all by herself. I loved how everyone was so enthusiastic and encouraging throughout.
The most important messages I have learnt in those 4 days is that yes, women can be leaders and be involved in politics. We may be a homemaker, or a result from a failed relationship, but we can capitalize on the good points. I found inspiration through Asma Khader’s stories in the books, and hope to make as great an impact as her one day.
We also learnt about campaigning and advocacy. We learnt about communicating to our best potential. It was all the great things to tie in to being a good leader in society.
Women make up a great proportion of the country many still need to be activated. I think many women would benefit greatly from this workshop, and I look forward to being a part of a great awakening of the people in my community.
A Breath of Fresh Air
By Suraya Zainudin, Seksualiti Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The workshop jointly organized by WLP and AWAM last weekend was – I’m not even going to sugar-coat it – long and intense. We, the local Malaysian participants, were told that the workshop was originally supposed to be a 5-day workshop, but has been condensed into 4 days. Ah, we thought. That’s why it was 8am-6pm daily. 10 hours! It’s safe to say that most of us dashed to the coffee pot every break.
But the sessions, which were conducted by both the international facilitators (Sindi, Caribbean; Samah, Egypt; Monica, Nigeria) and by the participants, were both fun and enlightening. I’m amused that as the days passed, the sessions became more and more Malaysian – relaxed, chilled, and informal – we were sitting on the floor, shoes off, laying down, joking and laughing about everything. I’m very sure that the international facilitators find our crowd to be different than the other places they’ve conducted workshops before!
All of us come from very different backgrounds, each of us lending voices to women from every sector and position in life. There were representatives from religious groups, reproductive and health group, aid groups, human rights groups, political groups, media groups, sexuality groups, and many more – all fighting for better equality for women. I was very impressed with the views and opinions expressed by many of them – sadly, women’s voices do tend to be overshadowed in our patriarchal society, so it was like a breath of fresh air. All the time, I was feeling proud of these women. They were all brilliant! And we are basically any misogynists’ nightmare!
I loved that the participants were given the chance to volunteer in co-facilitating sessions. We jumped at the opportunity. It was a great chance to brush up our facilitation skills, in an international workshop. I’m also quite happy to see many young, 20-somethings volunteer in this. We are the generation who are less afraid, who are ready to take charge, who can handle responsibility, if only given the chance. Equally, a proportionate number of youngsters also took the lead in ‘energizers’ – games in between the sessions to help break the monotony.
The wealth of information and cultural insight imparted by the international facilitators was another part which I enjoyed. I loved and admired Sindi’s political stories – her persistence and courage in pushing for law reforms have greatly inspired me. Samah recounted her first-hand-account role during the Egyptian revolution, and how they managed to gather millions of people in Tahrir square. Monica seemed pretty strict at first, but she was the one who is most eager to learn about different ways of conducting workshops and joins many of the energizers we had.
All in all, I know that I walked away from the 4-day workshop feeling slightly sad, but happy (it was mentally draining!) I knew that with all the information shared – by both international and local facilitators and participants – I am in a better position to be a woman who can be confident in her ability to lead and to participate politically – just what Malaysia needs at this point.
An Eye Opener
By Azrine Razak, Sisters in Islam, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Excitement and enthusiasm! That what I can say about AWAM-WLP National Training of Trainers on Women’s Leadership and Political Participation, which I attended on May 10-13 in Kuala Lumpur. The part that I most liked was the participatory leadership and interactive facilitation. As a new facilitator, this session was an eye opener. I tend to forget to engage with participants with eye contact and eye contact is very important so that the facilitator and participants connect.
The case studies helped me to understand the issues and link with what is happening in Malaysia. Basically the brainstorming and discussions were really good and gave a platform for participants to exchange their thoughts. The facilitators are flexible when some of participants use Bahasa Malaysia in the discussions to make sure all participants participate in the sessions.
Last but not least I would like express my thank you to AWAM and WLP for giving this opportunity to gain knowledge, sharing and build networking. It was really great for me!
Challenging and Fun
By Lee Wei San, All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
At the WLP/AWAM national training of trainers, I facilitated two sessions, one on’communication skills’ and the other on ‘mapping the political scene’. It was a challenging and fun experience! Challenging because it was my first time engaging with the content and methodology of WLP’s training, and fun because I was encouraged to identify and work with other participants to co-facilitate my sessions, which greatly enhanced my experience in facilitating the sessions. I found the “Leading to Action” and “Leading to Choices” training manuals to be full of valuable and useful case studies. I look forward to continuing to use the lessons from the training manuals to guide me in my activism, my work as well as in my personal life.