by MJ O'Neill
May 21st, 2018

With trust in government at an all-time low and female participation in the workforce at only 49%, Malaysia’s largest public transport provider Prasarana joined forces with Weber Shandwick to campaign for equality and help restore the Malaysian people’s faith in institutions.

Spotlighting women in the public transport workforce through a combination of classic storytelling and savvy social media usage, Prasarana’s Wanita Pun Boleh (Women Can Too!) campaign engaged millions of Malaysians – over 42% of the country’s digital population – to change their culture.

Disillusioned

For the past fifteen years, Malaysia has enjoyed a steady period of economic growth and expansion. However, in 2017, Malaysians were found to be the most pessimistic economy in the ASEAN region – with only a small percentage of people actually trusting in their government. And, since 2016, Malaysia has also registered the lowest rates of female workforce participation in South East Asia.

With research showing both widespread pessimism and inequitable workforce participation as having a negative impact on sustained economic growth, Malaysia’s disillusionment had substantial implications for its continued growth and expansion. And, as a government-linked company, public transport provider Prasarana felt the impact more keenly than most.

As a major provider of a public service in a male-dominated industry, Prasarana were determined to shift the equation. They enlisted Weber Shandwick Malaysia to help devise and implement a communications strategy that would champion women in the workforce and help rebuild the public’s trust in government services; like the country’s public transport systems.

Wanita Pun Boleh – Women Can Too!

Leveraging the increasing popularity of social media in Malaysia and inspired by the innate positivity of social activism, Weber Shandwick Malaysia and Prasarana developed the Wanita Pun Boleh (Women Can Too!) campaign – a strategy that saw the CEO of Prasarana devote his social platforms to sharing stories of women in the Prasarana workforce over a period of six months.

Beyond simply representing Prasarana’s commitment to equal participation, these figures would showcase the great people transporting millions of Malaysians each year and serve as powerful role models for young Malaysian women entering the workforce and other women working within male-dominated industries (e.g. deep-sea oil and gas exploration, logistics).

Nine women were selected from Prasarana’s various business units and operations – with candidates ranging from young executives to frontline staff. A diversity of success stories was fostered to demonstrate Prasarana’s ongoing role as a conduit through which women can achieve their dreams in a traditionally male-dominated sector.

21-year-old Nur Aina Asmida, for example, is the youngest female train captain in the organisation. Elsewhere, mother-of-two Tuty Sofia represents Kuala Lumpur’s first female electric bus driver while Nur Syuhada is a young hijabista (hijab fashionista) who also works for Prasarana as a rail engineer. Through a mixture of photos, videos and interviews, these stories took flight on social media.

Inspiring Change

But, the stories of Wanita Pun Boleh spread much further. While initially only shared with approximately 6,000 followers, the women of Prasarana would eventually be embraced by over eight million people – approximately 42% of the country’s digital population. Through media outlets, the movement of Wanita Pun Boleh would even extend beyond Malaysia and into Indonesia.

In total, over thirty different publications (across multiple languages) shared the stories of Wanita Pun Boleh. MalaysiaKini, Malaysia’s most popular online news portal, named Tuty Sofia as an official Malaysian You Should Know, citing her role in breaking the male stereotypes surrounding her workplace. Nur Syuhada was embraced by Indonesian media as a young style icon.

Beyond visibility, Prasarana, Weber Shandwick Malaysia and Wanita Pun Boleh helped inspire genuine change in Malaysian culture. In 2016, Malaysia’s rate of female workforce participation was found to be just over 50%. But, by the end of 2017, that figure had shifted to 54.6% – emphatically demonstrating that Wanita Pun Boleh: Women Can Too!

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