A young woman, Anna Cho from KSCF (Korea SCM), was selected to participate in the Women’s Internship Programme 2006. Anna had her internship with two NGOs in Malaysia, namely All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) and Youth for Change (Y4C). AWAM was to initiate Anna with advocacy, campaigning and monitoring work particularly on women’s rights issues as it works on women’s rights empowerment through its programmes on media critique, social services reference, legal advice and training workshops. Y4C provides a platform for Anna to work on her internship project as Y4C is an NGO that tackles student and youth issues centering on empowering awareness of young people’s rights.
In AWAM, Anna participated in many of its capacity-building workshops that help women to understand and practise their rights, especially in cases of domestic violence. Through her work in AWAM, Anna learned diverse perspectives and methods on the advocacy and monitoring work regarding women’s rights. Equipped with this knowledge, Anna went to Y4C to begin her research project and had the opportunity to travel to other states in Malaysia where she visited and had dialogues with students in local universities. Through these visits and exchange, Anna had a clearer understanding of the cultural, religious and social influences of Malaysia university students, and could better translate these learnings into her project. Anna’s project will focus on “Women Students’ Participation in Student Union Election in the University”. Her project will be complete in the middle of January 2007.
I have been doing the internship with Youth for Change (Y4C) for two months already. At first, I did not have much confidence because I was not familiar with Malaysia. I was worried about the things I could do to contribute to Y4C and, especially with my poor English, I was afraid I would have many communication problems. However, my worries were gone when I met Khai Loon and Yee Ling (the staff at Y4C). Their smiles and kind attitude made me comfortable and confident. During the past 2 months, I had several valuable and life-changing experiences. Sometimes, I would lose confidence when things I intended to do did not turn out well or when I did not do the things as were expected. But Khai Loon and Yee Ling would say to me every time: “Anna you can do it.” I was really encouraged by these motivating words. Importantly, their encouragement inspired me to transfer my concerns into action.
I started to participate in many demonstrations, rallies, discussion groups during the internship period. Before I came here, I was not particularly interested in politics and demonstrations. I used to think, “if I were to participate in all these, will real changes be made?”. Thus, I was not keen on participating in the events organised by the social and civil movements. But as I participated in the Y4C programmes, they transformed me and changed the way I viewed these activities. I still remember, during the first time I participated in a demonstration, I had just wanted to be an on-looker or observer. However, from that experience I recognised, little by little, the importance of demonstrations and rallies. These represent the voice of the people who often are not heard, their concerns not considered as important and are brushed aside by the authorities. Even though their voices may be small, they are there to make themselves heard and, for other people who are not aware of their concerns, to understand their struggles.
One of the reasons why many people are not interested in participating in social politics and civil society is probably because of their attitude of giving up without even trying. However, how can we expect any meaningful change if we only sit and do nothing! I had always thought we cannot make any changes, but I did not think what I could do to make the changes. The internship with Y4C is a good experience for me, it has taught me that it is possible to make a change when we start to be interested in the experience and struggles of the people. It is possible for me to make a difference because I am young and have the energy, passion and courage! And speaking from my experience, I encourage all students and youth to step forward and participate in the social and civil movements in their own countries, and join in the struggles for a world of peace, justice, equality and freedom!