Tell us about yourself.
I joined the military to fulfill my mother’s wish. Back in the 90s, women enlisting in the military was not very popular. But I wanted to make my mother’s dream come true and when the opportunity presented itself, I had her full support. She stood by me right from the day I attended the selection interview till the day I retired.
Life in the military is something I enjoyed, and I still miss it. I miss the camaraderie and the bonds I shared with the people I met. Being a woman didn't matter as long as you worked hard and delivered results.
As I enjoyed my command on every level, I realized that I had a little boy to care for at home who was now going to school. I realized he was not given the proper care at his after-school daycare. It was also not easy for me to leave my job due to its nature.
It was then that I started to reach out to stay-at-home moms by creating a Facebook group, hoping to find a suitable ‘halfway home’ for my son. Upon starting the group, my co-founder Umesh Narasimhaiah and I saw that the membership only began to grow. It was then that we realized we had touched a pain point. Women yearned for economic and financial independence and this Facebook group quickly became a platform for them to provide their services and receive remuneration from it. We then began our mission to empower women economically and in 2018, I officially retired from the Malaysian Armed Forces to fully serve the underserved, marginalized and displaced women in society.
What inspires you?
It's truly the simple things that inspire me. My biggest inspiration is of course my mother. I see what a selfless and kind person she is. I think if we can all be like her, the world would be a beautiful place to live in. Then, my son, who's the reason we even started CARING MOMS. I always tell people, CARING MOMS was started by a 7-year-old boy who needed a good daycare. Then of course all the empowering success stories. CARING MOMS has seen hundreds, maybe thousands of women who have now successfully achieved financial independence.
Their success is the fuel that keeps us.
How do you see Malaysian women breaking barriers? What does that mean to you?
Malaysian women are highly capable. I know this because I see how strong they are. There should be no barriers preventing them from moving forward. Most of the time, barriers and obstacles are only in the mind. All women should not feel limited in the things they can do. They can develop confidence and unlock their maximum potential given the right environment and leaders. Once they know that, then a world full of limitless possibilities awaits them.
Do you have a favourite quote or saying?
That's really easy. "To win in the 21st century, you have to make others become more successful than you". This quote is from Jack Ma. I live by these words and have seen it do amazing things in my life.
Where do you see Malaysia and women in 25 years?
In 25 years, women will be working in various industries. There would be more female pilots, more female ship captains, maybe even a prime minister. More businesses would be helmed by women.
It goes without saying that in the future, we would have more women representation in the government I believe women will bring Malaysia forward.
What do you Think is needed in Malaysia for more equality between men and women?
I see that the Malaysian government is already doing its best to uplift women. I believe all women earn their seats by merit, not just to fill quotas. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we must learn how to recognize it and appreciate each one as a person that can contribute to society.
If you could use one word to describe women in Malaysia, what would it be?
What is your big hope for Malaysian women in the future?
That they be given every opportunity they deserve regardless of their gender, skin color, race or religion.
**The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank Group and its employees.