Aiyoh… Wat Lah 2016 Workshop (Part 1) - Collaboration between JAG and GEI, 2 June 2016

On 2 June 2016, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality together with the Gender Equality Initiative conducted a workshop in order to introduce students of the GEI participating institutions to the Aiyoh Wat Lah Awards 2016. JAG has been organising the annual Aiyoh… Wat Lah Awards since 2012, highlighting sexist, misogynistic, transphobic and homophobic statements made by public figures in Malaysia and raising awareness about why these statements are harmful to gender equality.

The idea for the workshop came about as JAG wanted more people, especially the youth, to realise that the fact that offensive statements are common does not make them acceptable. While the Aiyoh Wat Lah Awards have typically involved mostly NGOs, this time we have decided to expand our network of activists to university students. The Gender Equality Initiative (GEI), which is a collaborative effort between AWL, the Bar Council and 5 institutions of higher learning is the perfect avenue for this venture.

The workshop comprised of 2 parts. Part 1, held on 2 June 2016 focused on understanding the difference between gender and sex, and that gender equality goes beyond the binary gender spectrum. Thency Gunasekaran of All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) spoke about what gender equality means, and how we have been taught since young that our biological sex must always correspond with socially constructed ideas on gender. 

The second session of this Part 1 workshop focused on the politicisation of Islam in Malaysia, by Norhayati Kaprawi of Sisters in Islam. Norhayati invited the participants to reflect on how religion is used as tool to achieve political ambitions, and how this damages Malaysia’s diverse culture.

Below are photos from the workshop. Part 2 will be held on 8 June 2016.