PETALING JAYA, Dec 15  —  Do women and girls in Malaysia have the right to make decisions about their own life and future?

The second annual Malaysia Women and Girls Forum (MWGF) will focus on bodily autonomy to ensure females in the country have access to this fundamental human right.

MWGF is organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Malaysia on behalf of the United Nations in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam as the lead of the UN Gender Results Group.

This year’s theme is Bodily Autonomy: Ensuring Rights & Choices for Malaysia’s Women & Girls.

Bodily autonomy is the right for a person to make decisions about their own body, life and future.

Although girls and women should be empowered to make informed choices, this is far from the reality for many females in most countries.

Additionally, the application and understanding of bodily autonomy as a pillar of human rights is beyond ideal.

MWGF said in a pre-event press release that policymakers, the government, institutions and CSOs have a leading role to play by amplifying and connecting Malaysians to the universal human right.

The topics that will be discussed under the umbrella of bodily autonomy at the forum include bodily autonomy as a core pillar of human rights, comprehensive sexuality education, ending violence against women, the media’s role, and youth and social narrative.

Women and girls are not empowered to make informed choices about their body and future in most countries.  —  Picture courtesy of MWGF
Women and girls are not empowered to make informed choices about their body and future in most countries. — Picture courtesy of MWGF

The media along with private and public sectors are encouraged to participate in the forum to contribute their perspectives and derive vital insights on the importance and impact of prioritising bodily autonomy as part of Malaysia’s girls and women’s welfare and wellbeing.

Keynotes and plenary sessions by several speakers from Malaysia’s private, public and civil sectors will make a feature at the forum.

United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam Karima El Korri will deliver the welcome address, UNFPA Representative Malaysia and UNFPA Country Director Thailand Asa Torkelsson will deliver the opening remarks and Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin will deliver a special keynote.

Other speakers include Kuantan MP and Parliamentary Select Committee member for Women, Children and Social Development Issues Fuziah Salleh, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah, Penang Women’s Development Corporation chief executive office Ong Bee Leng, All Women’s Action Society executive director Nisha Sabanayagam, University of Nottingham Malaysia assistant professor in Sociolinguistics & Discourse Analysis Melissa Yoong and Islamic International University Malaysia Department of Sociology and Anthropology senior lecturer Fatimah Al-Attas.

The forum will be livestreamed on UNFPA Malaysia’s Facebook page on Friday from 10am to 3pm.

MWGF collectively amplifies, tracks and provides proactive recommendations and solutions on the progress of advancing the rights and wellbeing of women and girls in Malaysia.

The forum is funded by the UN in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

For more details on the full programme and list of speakers, visit the MWGF official website and Facebook event page.

*Malay Mail is the official media partner for the Malaysia Women and Girls Forum 2021.