The Invisible Women exhibition is a joint effort by Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Leo Burnett KL. It aims to raise awareness of the discrimination that pregnant women and working mothers face in the workplace.
At the moment, women who work in the private sector have no protection against discrimination. However, WAO aims to change that. WAO is currently collaborating with several other NGOs to draft a Gender Equality Act, which will regulate employers if it passes into law.
More information regarding the campaign can be found on the campaign microsite at www.invisiblewomen.com.my
The Art Exhibition will feature the following
2 x Scenes (diorama-style)
Both of these scenes are meant to help us get in the mindset of a woman – one who’s unhappy in the workplace due to discrimination, and one who finds herself unable to work, due to taking time off to raise her child and not being given the opportunity to return to the workforce. They’re also photo opportunities for people who visit the exhibition.
– 1 unhappy woman in the workplace
According to a 2016 WAO survey, 40% of women have found themselves demoted, placed on prolonged probation, or even fired for disclosing a pregnancy to their employers. This is due to an overwhelming belief that pregnant women are less competent or capable workers – and the sad part is this is a belief that lasts long after the pregnancy is over; working mums are rarely looked upon favourably in workplaces where the working culture involves long hours, weekend work, or even social obligations like frequent team drinks after work.
– 1 reluctant stay-at-home mum
According to a 2012 World Bank Report, women who leave the workforce in Malaysia don’t return later in life – unlike women in South Korea or Japan. Women who leave the workforce to raise their children face several issues when returning to work: mentioning that you have a young child can make you seem undesirable to employers because a parent with a young child may be unable to work late nights or weekends; a gap in your CV can lead to a reduced salary; any disparity between your age and where you ought to be in your career can result in being dismissed in favor of someone younger, or childless.
Hanging CV Display (Title: Read Between The Lines)
A CV is supposed to show you in your best light. It’s the summation of all your career-related accomplishments; your “greatest hits”, if you will. Yet women’s CVs are frequently impacted by things they can’t disclose – whether on their CVs or anywhere else. She was only at that company for a month? Why? Because they let her go when she disclosed her pregnancy. She went four years without a job? Why? Because nobody would hire her after she took three years off to take care of her child. So, we’re turning the CV from a history of work to a history of work harassment.
Pregnant Woman Shadow Display (Title: The Ones We Don’t See)
Behind every CV or résumé is a real person. Yet it’s easy to forget that when CVs reduce us to a handful of details about ourselves, details that can feel utterly removed from the living, breathing person who carefully crafted them. When you discard someone from consideration for a job because they mention a three-year-old child in their cover letter, that’s a real person who’s being denied the opportunity to get their career back on track. And that’s a real economy you’re helping to erode by cutting out people who want to contribute to the workforce.
Overflowing Bin Display (Title: Stay At Home, Mum)
So, some people feel that if a woman has a baby, then it’s her duty to stay at home and look after said baby. But we really don’t give her very much support to do so. Men may become the sole breadwinners of the household when their wives have given birth, but we don’t support them in supporting their wives either. There’s no law that makes private sector employers give paternity leave to fathers. What are we throwing out when we throw women out of the workforce?
Anjali Nijjar Venugopal calls herself a storyteller. She tells her stories through art, poetry, film, and theatre. She recently graduated from a film school here in Kuala Lumpur. She has written and directed short films. She actively writes scripts for the screen and the stage. She was last year’s TIGA writer at Five Arts Centre, which was staged in November. Back home in Sabah, Anjali was involved in Green Leaf Theatre House productions. She wrote and directed a play called L.I.F.E in collaboration with Befrienders Kota Kinabalu in 2013. Last year she completed her Theatre For Young People training programme at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) and staged the final showcase, Family.
She works as a freelance publicist and has worked with Theatresauce on multiple projects including 4:48 Psychosis and The Bee. Anjali has exhibited her art around Malaysia. She was one of the artists that exhibited in Tokyo under the “Building Bridges” exhibition in 2016 and this year will be exhibiting in Tokyo once again for the “Celebrating Life” exhibition, which will be held in March. Anjali is currently the art director of Playlet #11: of Theatre Modular, which will be from the 4th to 8th of April at Kongsi KL.
Diane Au is an experimental, self-taught, some-times artist. Building, painting, creating are passions for her and between the pauses in life, she paints to stay sane.
Her artwork and style varies from piece to piece depending on her mood, but it is almost always focused on women as the female anatomy fascinates her.
Lizzie Zany is a Malaysian comic artist and graphic designer, currently residing in the old suburbs of Shah Alam. Known for her witty illustrations, Lizzie Zany first captured attention after she responded the Parliament’s decision to review Malaysia’s beloved ‘mamak culture’ with a short but effective comic strip that was excessively shared across social media platforms. Since then, Lizzie Zany continued her activism work through her own comic series and brand called ‘Lizzie & Catman’ which has highlighted heated topics like the LGBT movement, religious extremism and day-to-day Malaysian narratives. Her comics were heavily featured on the Malaysian youth portal, The Level MY and her own social media page.
Nadia Binti Nizamudin is a visual artist, working primarily on textile painting and mixed media collage. Her artwork focuses on found, reclaimed or recycled materials and is always represented by bold and bright colors. Both her collage and textile painting carry narratives around loss, relationships and hope. She always prefer to use found images and recycled or reclaimed items for her work, feeling that they add to the story and character of what she is trying to express. Used textiles always have a story to them and their fine wear and tear contribute to the fragility of human’s emotions. She is inspired by the concept of grief and behaviorism.
Shelly is a doodle artist who expresses her vivid imagination of the quirky, the unique, the beautiful and the magical on ink and paper, and more recently experimenting with acrylic on canvas. Her art is meticulous and is often focused on elements that are unreal – mermaids, creatures of the forests, butterflies that are translucent and majestic, and others that live in her heart. She believes art heals, it finds beauty in the imperfect, it can create wonder and it can bring awareness to issues we face in a way that can sometimes speak louder as words.
Shelly also founded Kanvas Space Collections. An avenue for people like her to share their work for the purpose of charity.
Xiang Yi was born in Malaysia. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Later on, she relocated to Taipei and completed her Master of Fine Arts at the Taipei National University of the Arts. Her unique approach to the body, the female perspective, and the subtlety present in her art has made her the recipient of significant awards, including the Grotto Creation Awards (2010). In 2014, Xiang-Yi’s pursuit of contemporary views integrated with traditional techniques gained her prominence and earned her a spot on the 100 Painters of Tomorrow list recognized by international committee members.
Statement from Leo Burnett Team
(Pia Dhaliwal, Lee Shyyi, Larissa Loh, Ong Jia Yean)
We’re incredibly excited to have been part of this exhibition and this whole campaign, given what an important issue this is. After all, this doesn’t just impact women – really, it’s an issue that impacts everyone. Yet the fact that women are primarily affected by this shouldn’t be overlooked either; women form half this country’s population as well as half the workforce. They earn more degrees than men but are represented on fewer boards and make up fewer higher management-level positions. This is very much a problem that intersects at several points: culturally, socially, economically, and it’s difficult to unpack and fix. But we all need to fix it. And this is our small attempt at trying.
The work you see here is the product of many late nights, early mornings, mid-mornings, late afternoons… Basically, we spent a lot of time on it. If you don’t identify as a woman, hope it gives you a better idea of what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace generally, let alone a pregnant one. And if you are a pregnant woman or a working mother, then we hope it’s helped you feel less alone. We’re on your side, and we’re fighting for you.