All Women's Action Society

All Women's Action Society

Petaling Jaya

AWAM provides training to raise awareness about issues relating to violence against women, advocacy for improved legislation and policies for women, and counseling services and legal information for women facing discrimination or violence.

Partner Focus Areas

Gender-based violence
Leadership and political participation
Countering the politicization of ethnicity and religion
Women's access to legal and psychological services

Partnership Highlights

Partner since 2006
Trainings on women's leadership and violence against women
Curriculum adaptations for indigenous women
Gender sensitization for police, medical personnel, and social welfare officers
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AWAM Advocacy 2014
Women and men advocate for freedom of expression at a march organized by AWAM.

About AWAM

AWAM, founded in 1988, advocates for changes in policies and laws to protect the rights of women. The organization serves survivors of violence with counseling and legal information. AWAM educates the general public about ending gender-based violence and women’s rights using social media, workshops, editorials, published research, and public events. AWAM supports women’s rights advocates who have become the targets of government intimidation and arrests by publicizing their stories and lobbying for their release. More recently, AWAM has been addressing the politicization of ethnicity and religion in popular culture, and how that politicization divides and disempowers women. AWAM conducts training workshops for diverse audiences, including healthcare providers, police officers, school children and teenagers, survivors, indigenous communities, the corporate sector, and government officials. Workshops cover leadership, political activism, human rights, and violence against women. AWAM launched the Telenita helpline in 1997, and has continued its work for 20 years with the help of dedicated volunteer counselors and students from the Legal Aid Centre.

Since AWAM joined the WLP partnership in 2006, it has grown its programming on leadership development and political participation. AWAM has translated and adapted WLP curricula, including Victories Over Violence and Leading to Action. AWAM conducts local and national Training of Trainer Institutes using the WLP methodology. AWAM works primarily in Malay.

Malaysia GTOT 2012
Participants from Asia and Africa celebrate women's leadership and solidarity at an AWAM training in Malaysia.

Recent Accomplishments

  • After years of advocacy and lobbying by AWAM, as part of the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), Malaysia’s lower house of parliament, the Dewan Rakyat, passed a critical amendment to the Domestic Violence Bill of 2017, allowing victims of domestic abuse to access emergency protection orders (EPO).
  • AWAM and JAG are currently working with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, to develop a law to address sexual harassment.
  • In 2016, AWAM and JAG conducted workshops for law students at five private universities that addressed gender and sexuality issues, with the goal of influencing their future legal practice. The effort was in collaboration with the Gender Equality Initiative (GEI), which is a project of the Association of Women Lawyers (AWL).
  • In 2014, AWAM produced a politicization and ethnicity in religion training manual called Perpaduan: Exploring gender, ethnic and religious relations in Malaysia, for engaging young people in constructive dialogue around building a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious society. AWAM continues to run workshops with youth, and to update the manual regularly with new case studies.
  • AWAM is developing a manual on patriarchy and its connections to gender based violence, focusing on the Malaysian context.
Malaysia-2012-Tot-Group
Participants celebrate the conclusion of a Global Training of Trainers workshop hosted by WLP’s partner in Malaysia, AWAM.

Organizational Programs and Activities

Women’s Leadership and Political Participation

  • Since 2015, AWAM has organized an annual Feminist Camp for young women. During the three-day retreat, young women establish connections and have meaningful conversations with others equally curious and passionate about feminism, social justice, and the state of Malaysia and the world.
  • AWAM conducts capacity-building and sensitization workshops on women’s rights for widely diverse constituencies in Malaysia. These have included gender sensitization trainings for police, workshops on violence against women, and programs with indigenous women to raise awareness about gender-based violence. Over the years, AWAM has conducted education programs and campaigns on women’s human rights, women’s political participation, and women’s leadership.

Ending Violence Against Women

  • Through its nationwide campaign to end domestic violence, AWAM has brought together key service providers—hospitals, the police, and the Welfare Department—to engage them in discussions around their roles in addressing domestic violence. AWAM trains first responders on how to recognize domestic violence cases and what are the appropriate responses. AWAM also works to increase coordination between individuals, agencies, and NGOs working on domestic violence cases.
  • As a result of intense lobbying by AWAM and other women’s groups, One Stop Crisis Centers (OSCCs) were established in 1996 in general hospitals nationwide. The OSCCs enable survivors of violence—including domestic violence and sexual assault—to access comprehensive treatment and services at one centralized location. The services OSCC provides include medical treatment, assistance on lodging a police report, legal support, and mental health counseling. Today, AWAM fights to close gaps in referral and implementation of OSCCs and continues to conduct talks and training for medical personnel.

Training Program on the Politicization of Ethnicity and Religion

  • AWAM is promoting alternative understandings and narratives on ethnicity and religion in Malaysia. AWAM’s training program uses alternative narratives to embrace and celebrate diversity and adhere to human rights principles, rather than seeking to punish or persecute difference. This program addresses a growing discord in Malaysian society, which is negatively impacting women. AWAM is providing a response that is grounded in feminist ideals and builds solidarity.
Women have similar stories. We have a collective memory, collective experiences. Yet, we always think, ‘I am the only one suffering from these sorts of subordinations, such as a woman’s place is in the kitchen.’ All of us share that.

,Former President, All Women's Action Society (AWAM)

About Malaysia

  • Population: 31 million
  • Consists of two similarly-sized landmasses in Southeast Asia separated by the South China Sea: Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand, and East Malaysia—the northern one-third of the island of Borneo.
  • Malaysia transformed from a producer of raw materials in the 1970s into a multi-sector economy with a current target to achieve high-income status by 2020 by attracting investments in high technology, knowledge-based industries and services.
  • The status of women in the country is complex, partly dependent on their religion and where they reside, and subject to ideological disagreements between religious and secular forces and between conservative and liberal interpretations of Islam.
  • Mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Court at request of supreme head of the federation.
  • Religions: Muslim (official) 61.3%, Buddhist 19.8%, Christian 9.2%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 1.3%
  • Citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Malaysia.
  • Seats held by women in national parliament: 10%
  • Labor force: 38.1% female
  • Female literacy: 93.2%
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