KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Women of the Future global network honoured Datuk Jimmy Choo when it launched its Malaysia chapter on Friday.
British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell and founder Pinky Lilani introduced the network, which aims to recognise role models for women around the world.
Choo was surprised and humbled to be awarded for his professional achievements. Two other prominent Malaysians were also honoured.
“This award means a lot to me,” said Choo.
“Wherever women need help, not only in Malaysia, but all over the world, it’s important to have this network.”
The world-renowned designer was curious as to why Women of the Future celebrated a man as a role model for women.
He believes it was his tale as a Penang shoe craftsman who became a success in high-end ladies fashion footwear that served as an inspiration.
“I tell my daughter to be strong and do things for herself, not to rely on a husband, and show that she can do good in the world,” he said.
“Looking at the world now, more and more women are in power — look at the UK prime minister. A lot of great women are in top jobs.”
Women of the Future is a network of accomplished role models that seeks to inspire and empower women around the world.
The network, which was started in the UK by Lilani in 2006, has delegates from India, Canada and New Zealand.
Treadell, a 2009 Asian Women of Achievement awardee, said its arrival in Malaysia was an opportunity to foster education ties with the UK.
“We have 500,000 British alumni in Malaysia that are in the right age category (under 35) for Women of the Future, or are parents, managers and leaders of young women,” she said.
“The environment is conducive to this new level of engagement through the network.”
Lilani added: “Malaysia represents Southeast Asia as a young, dynamic country on-the-move.
“We find a lack of self-confidence among women. By giving them a platform and have others champion them it helps change a career perspective for the better.”
Lilani has spent the week with 20 delegates from their global network engaging Malaysian women including business and public service leaders.
Members of the group ended the week with a luncheon with the prime minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, at Seri Perdana.
The joint host for Friday’s gala dinner was YTL Corporation Berhad executive director Datuk Yeoh Soo Min.
The two other Malaysians honoured were environmentalist Yasmin Rasyid and human rights lawyer Firdaus Husni.
Yasmin, a marine biologist specialising in environmental sustainability, hoped to be the “agent of change” women may need.
“It doesn’t matter what background or career path you are from. This award is to tell women that whatever you dream or aspire is always within your grasp,” she said.
“I hope Women of the Future can get the ball rolling in Malaysia.”
Firdaus had a message for Malaysian women – facing your fears and stepping out of your comfort zone can benefit women around you.
“You will be glad to get out of your comfort zone. A small change in yourself can affect those around you and make their world better,” he said.