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May 14, 2022

A group of the Women in Leadership, ready to train other rural women in Sabah


Sabah  District poised to achieve SDG Target after completion of the Rural Women Leadership Project by Good Shepherd Services.


Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, Good Shepherd Services (GSS) has successfully trained and established a pool of 115 women leaders who are ready to take on decision-making leadership roles in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia.

Launched in May 2020, this two-year project received the full support of key stakeholders including the Tambunan District Officer, Head of the Native Court and the Head of the Leadership and Development Unit – all of whom are members of the Project Advisory Council (PAC).

A key objective of the 2030 Sabah Development Plan is to have women occupy 30% of key decision-making positions as village heads, leaders of community development and critical organisations such as the farmers association.  All districts in Sabah are required to contribute towards achieving this objective in their respective development action plans.

“This project mobilises rural women to participate in leadership and generate community-led action that contributes to the transformative change process,” said GSS project manager Sr Jossie Sili. 

“As part of their capacity training, all participants had to attend a five-module training programme that incorporates both practical and theoretical aspects of leadership,” she added.  

“For the practical session, a majority of the groups opted to conduct livelihood projects so that they can generate alternative incomefor themselves to ease the financial hardships caused by the pandemic. A number of these projects are still ongoing,” Sr Jossie emphasised.

Promoting gender sensitisation is fundamental to foster an enabling environment for gender sensitivity and women’s leadership. Although, a workshop session was conducted specifically men, yet the women from the leadership training also participated.In total 87 men, including senior representatives from all government agencies and community leaders in the district attended the workshop.

Senior representatives from all government agencies and community leaders in the district attended the Gender Sensitisation Workshop


“The workshop promoted clarity on the concepts of equality and non-discrimination. It provided a space for both men and women to discuss some of the issues affecting gender. At the end of the session, the participants pledged to promote behaviours and values that will uphold the rights and dignity of every individual,” Sr Jossie explained.  

It is hoped that high representation and receptiveness from the government agencies can contribute towards creating a more impactful and gender-sensitive environment for Tambunan. 

“These 115 women represent a valuable leadership resource in achieving our 2030 goals – be it in gender equality, or our 30% target of women in decision-making leadership roles,” said Mr Jumain Ghani, the former Tambunan District Officer who was recently promoted and transferred to the Ranau district. 

The newly appointed District Officer, Mr Sobitun Makajil, said in his inaugural PAC meeting: “From my experience with the programme participants, I have every confidence that these women leaders will be able to advance the development of their communities. In fact, I would like to tap into their ground knowledge and expertise for the district planning sessions. 

“Through PAC, the project has bridged communications between key stakeholders and the women leaders. PAC has also been a training platform for the beneficiaries to hone their confidence in engaging and building a presence with key stakeholders. This has a direct impact in promoting gender-sensitive development and leadership,” remarked Sr Jossie.

As part of sustainability and self-government, a group of  “Women in Leadership” (WIL) women are presently working towards their registration as an entity under the Registrar of Society. This will enable them to access funding for the training of other rural women leaders in Sabah. 

Submitted by:

Sr Jossie Sili

Centre manager

Pusat Jagaan Seri Murni

Good Shepherd Services



May 14, 2022
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