The Gender Studies Program (GSP) was officially established in the academic session 1994/1995 under the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. It is the first in Malaysia to offer a systematic undergraduate program in gender studies to meet the needs of the nation to mainstream gender and is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 to achieve gender equality. The multidisciplinary program offers various courses including on family, work, development, religion, politics, media, law, masculinity, sexuality and science and technology with gender as the main analytical tool. These courses address gender issues in contemporary Malaysian society and globally from gender stereotypes, gender-based violence, gendered impact of COVID-19, discrimination at work to generally unequal gender power relations in various institutions as it intersects with other dimensions, for example, class, ethnicity and citizenship. Significantly, policy responses for redressal are also explored. The objectives of the GSP are to:
• inculcate the gender perspective and the feminist standpoint through the courses offered
• engage in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research from the gender perspective
• contribute to community development through raising gender awareness at all societal levels
• train future academics, policymakers, lawmakers, activists and others based on the principles of gender equality and social justice
• adopt a pedagogy that enhances students’ digital literacy and soft skills that include communication, writing, leadership, and working in groups or independently
The teaching and learning methods adopted are interactive, engaging and student-centred. Popular methods include utilizing films, and social media contents to discuss pertinent issues and its related concepts and theories. New online tools are incorporated to further integrate innovative and fun pedagogy. The strengths of the program also lie in its community engagement, for example, with the indigenous community, the homeless or the refugees which offer students an experiential, affective mode of learning in addition to cognitive learning. Collaboration with industry partners such as civil society organizations, media practitioners or other faculties as guest lecturers, panelists or for field visits further enrich the pedagogical experiences.
The academic staff with multi-disciplinary background have been appointed or consulted for their expertise, for example, by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in committees to enact a standalone Sexual Harassment Act, and an Anti-Discrimination Against Women Act, by Team Selangor, a program under the Selangor government for their youth advocacy program on gender and gender-based violence, by universities academic staff associations to design and run workshop to address sexual harassment in campuses, and by the Universiti Malaya for the Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership Program.
At the undergraduate level the program offers a minor and an elective program. In addition to its current Masters and Doctoral program by research, the GSP is expected to offer a Masters in Gender Studies by coursework in September 2022/2023. Alumni have shared that the minor program in particular is an asset in enhancing their employability. Some notable alumni of both sexes, for example, in civil society organizations, government sectors and the educational fields are as follows:
~ Sharifah Shazana binti Syed Salim Agha, Head of Research, Women’s Aid Organisation.
~ Rizal Rozhan, Assistant Vice-President, Impact Malaysia, Ministry of Youth and Sports. Was previously EMPOWER's Advocacy and Capacity-Building Officer.
~ Mini Panggi, Director, Women Policy Implementation Division, Department of Women’s Development Department, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
~ Shanta Kumari Ramdass, Chief Assistant Secretary, Urban Welfare Division, Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
~ Dr Lee Lee Loh Ludher, Vice Chancellor, University for Education and Development at Battambang, Cambodia.
Last Update: 27/02/2023