ASEAN Life Vol: 2 March - May 2014 - Page 30

profile Dato’ Dr. Wazir Jahan Begum Karim: Champion of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality F ew people are as smart, compassionate, driven, and adventurous --- all at the same time --- as Dr. Wazir Jahan Karim. In Southeast Asia, where poverty and inequality are rampant, Dr. Karim boldly, decisively and enthusiastically, rolled up her sleeves and waded waist-deep into the situation to fight for the rights of the under-represented, underprivileged, and under-appreciated communities of developing Southeast Asian nations. Preserving Muslim culinary heritage The battle for equality has been fought for centuries, as early as the 1700s. Past victories include appointment of women in top clergy positions among the Shakers (1788), balanced received several notable accolades including of Economics and Political Science, is an the Raymond Firth Prize in 1977, the Rotary economic anthropologist and a gender Golden Medal for Most Outstanding mostly in highly modernized areas in the West or studies proponent. She is currently Executive Scholar in the Social Sciences in 1999, and in Western-influenced countries. In the Eastern Chairman of Intersocietal and Scientific Outstanding Woman Academician in Penang hemisphere, particularly in underdeveloped Asian (INAS), an agency committed to gender, State in 2005. She is also very active as a cities, women are viewed as they were when these conservation, and heritage issues as well visiting professor, a sought-after speaker, civilizations first began. as the Executive Director of the Academy and distinguished fellow in several renowned of Socio-Economic Research and Analysis Jahan, a graduate of the London School more or less the same privileges as men, but MAR-APR 2014 An accomplished woman, Dr. Karim suffrage in the U.S. (1920). Today, women share 30 only gender issues but also poverty. Wazir property rights in marriage (1882), and women Dato’ Dr. Wazir Jahan Begum Karim is the Executive Chairman of Intersocietal and Scientific (INAS), an agency committed to gender, conservation, and heritage issues. Dato’ is a title conferred by the State Government of Malaysia. Fortunately, Wazir Jahan Karim is wellequipped when it comes to battling not universities worldwide, including the British (ASERA), which promotes social equality in Academy, University of Oslo, United Nations’ the developing world. She co-founded the University, University of Victoria, and Sophia Women’s Development Research Centre University. When she’s not busy teaching at Universiti Sains Malaysia, and heralded or researching, she writes and co-authors Gender Studies in rural Malaysia from 1978 books about minorities and women in to 2001 at a time when not many thought Southeast Asia, the absence of equality in much of it, to improve the understanding these communities, and striving for their of, and methodologies related to, poverty, empowerment while also giving the world a She literally “rolled up her sleeves and waded waist-deep”, for she lived their way of life women’s leadership, and midwifery, among glimpse of their everyday lives. She carries several other things. the title of Dato’ --- having been conferred in 2007 the order of Darjah Setia Pingat Negeri (Penang). when not fighting for the rights of women and marginalized societies, she is a businesswoman and connoisseur of Asian heritage crafts MAR-APR 2014 31