This year, in honor of International Women’s Day (#IWD2021) on March 8, Kate Spade New York recognises the achievements of five incredible Malaysian women who have made — and continue to make — a difference in the lives of others.

These women including Dato’ Shyamala Alagendra, International Lawyer, Heidy Quah, Human Rights Advocate and founder of Refuge for The Refugees, Dr. Jezamine Lim, Co-founder/CEO of Cell Biopeutics Resources, Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana, Professional Hijabi Wrestler and Dr Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, International Trauma Psychologist are challenging inequality and adversity on a daily basis.

Kate Spade New York has partnered with these women to highlight the role that self-love plays in the empowerment journey of women and treated all five to a fashionable photo session where they were decked in Kate Spade’s latest Spring 2021 collection.

Dato’ Shyamala Alagendra

“International Women’s Day is a global moment for both men and women to reflect on how our actions and our decisions have moved us closer to a more equal society for all genders, and away from discrimination,” says Dato’ Shyamala Alagendra. This powerful lawyer is presently the Gender and Child Rights Adviser to the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), after having previously served as the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions of Fiji. “When we see injustice and inequality, we should seek to stop it, speak up against it, and applaud and join those who choose to challenge such injustice by word and deed.”

Heidi Quah

For Heidi Quah, Founder of Refuge For The Refugees, International Women’s Day celebrates women who have helped rewrite history. “This day is a strong marker of the strength of womanhood, a day in the year to reflect on all that women have survived, changed, and will continue to change. I celebrate the refugee women and victims of trafficking that I work with closely—their strength and resilience inspire me to keep being bold and courageous in speaking up against injustice. Their grit and grace in navigating adversaries inspire me to continue to #choosetochallenge systems and structures that silence, oppress, and exploit vulnerable communities.”

Dr. Jezamine Lim

“When I started my journey in the BioTech field, I realized that there were—and still are—very few women that are involved in this industry. I think it is important for myself and other women in this field to challenge this status quo!” says Dr. Jezamine Lim, who was the first woman to attain a PhD in Stem Cell and Tissue engineering in UKM. Dr Lim is also the Co-founder /CEO of Cell Biopeutics Resources, who aims to produce world class stem cell derived cosmetic products and therapeutic treatments for unmet medical diseases. “We need to help break the perception that this is a ‘man’s game’ and prove that gender has nothing to do with a person’s ability to excel in this, or any, field.”

Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana

“One of the biggest barriers for me is society’s expectation of me. They don’t want to see someone like me in pro wrestling. How do I overcome this adversity? I do this by continuing to pursue my dreams of becoming a wrestler,” says the world’s first hijab – wearing Pro Wrestler, Nor ‘Phoenix’ Diana. Known all over the world when it comes to wrestling, this shy and reserved woman is much more confident and bold when she is in the ring as her stage character, Phoenix. “I think it is important to celebrate the achievements of women from all around the world. I love to see the accomplishments of other great women around me to keep me motivated and driven.”

Dr. Anjhula Mya Singh Bais

As a perfect example of a great woman who inspires other women, Dr. Anjhula Mya Singh Bais wears multiple hats as a human rights advocate, an Amnesty Director, an international trauma Psychologist – who was one of the six psychologists in the entire history of the young global leader program of the world economic forum – and a model. “Many people are conflict-avoidant, especially women, who by traditional standards are socialized to be nice, polite, and kind. They are taught that these traits triumph all else. I consciously, but respectfully, challenge what there is to challenge, otherwise how else will change come? From board rooms to bedrooms, women need to think about what they have been spoon-fed and conditioned to think, and usually it is some variant of ‘I am not enough.”

Read also: BONIA Celebrates #IWD2021 with “The Art of Empowerment” Campaign Featuring Three Talented Ladies