Empowering Dayak women through education, technology

From left: Uggah, Alice, Abang Johari and Dr Jayum at the launch of National Conference on Dayak Women 2022.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, March 18: Education and technology has transformed the traditional roles of Dayak women from being homemakers to visionary leaders and professionals in Sarawak.

Acknowledging this, Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS) chairperson Datuk Alice Jawan Empaling said education has been the key to success for women while transformation has contributed significantly to personal development and family income.

Speaking at the launch of National Conference on Dayak Women 2022 today, Alice noted that as compared to decades ago, more women from rural communities now are graduates from local and foreign universities.

She added that Dayak women must also be given the opportunities to become entrepreneurs.

“One of the ways to empower our women is through jobs and income-earning opportunities. They must participate in various areas including entrepreneurship by being job creators in the comfort of their own hometown or home. We need to promote Dayak Women’s entrepreneurship as a catalyst for advancing their economic empowerment, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Empowering women will also accelerate development for a stronger economy, build a stable and equitable society, achieve international human rights goals and improve the quality of life for women. The strategy and efforts to do so are one of the most discussed topics from various groups,” Alice said.

In terms of human capital, Alice, who is also the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak stressed on the need to develop Dayak women in both public and private sectors.

She emphasised that Dayak women’s representation in policy decision making were far fewer in numbers as compared to others.

“This means our voice is weaker in high level decision making. It is crucial that we continue to take chances and put ourselves forward. We need to challenge the stereotypes that women are less capable or less suited to be in leadership roles or professions.

“On top of that, we must have women leaders in community development. It is timely, now that there are high numbers of women community leaders or tuai rumahs that Dayak women have great potential and capability to be appointed as Pemanca or Temenggong,” Alice asserted.

In making the call to Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to consider more Dayak women leaders, she said SIDS had a membership of about 14,000 women from 28 branches across the state including those from Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA).

Meanwhile, the two-day conference was a collaboration between Tan Sri Empiang Jabu Research Chair Univerisiti Putra Malaysia, SDGA and SIDS.

Attended by some 400 participants from UPM, UM, UNIMAS, UiTM Sarawak, Swinburne Sarawak, members of Dayak NGOs such as from SDGA, SDNU, OUNA, FORUM and DBNA, it has also gathered 16 distinguished speakers from various disciplines to share their insight into the recent development of Dayak women.

They will also showcase successful Dayak women in various fields of academics, government and private sectors in order to motivate and inspire others.

“The papers presented at the conference will cover politics and governance, education and empowerment, women, youth, and entrepreneurship, and culture, heritage, and digitalisation.

“Our panels over the next two days reflect the importance we place on leadership, education, culture, heritage, as well as the need for us to embrace digitalisation to be relevant today,” Alice said.

Also present at the launch were Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Datuk Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom and Tan Sri Empiang Jabu Research Chair Prof Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan. — DayakDaily