Images: @dramalinabakri Insragram, The Star/Chan Tak Kong, and Purdue University
8 March marks a very special day for those who bear the XX chromosome around the world as this date has been declared as the International Women’s Day
where we celebrate every women’s achievements throughout history.
No matter how big or small your achievement is, it all deserves to be commemorated. And in conjunction with the all-female day occassion, we’ve compiled a few inspiring Malaysian women who have left their mark not only on us Malaysians but also the world.
These women are not just any women, they’re trailblazers who will aspire you through their achievements to be a better version of yourself and to never give up in reaching for your dreams.
#1 Dr. Nur Adlyka Ainul Annuar
The 28-year-old physics and astrophysicist lecturer shook the astronomy world last year when she and a group of astronomers discovered a hidden supermassive black hole
in the galaxy. Dr. Nur Adlyka was pursuing her PhD at Durham University, United Kingdom when she made the intergalactic discovery.
The Johorean was over the moon when she found the black hole while studying galaxy NGC1448
, which is 38 million light years away from the Milky Way. She managed to unearth the mysterious black hole by using NASA’s X-ray telescope, the NuSTAR
(Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array).
#2 Dr. Nur Amalina Che Bakri
This lass made headlines in 2004 when she became the first person to score 17A1s in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM)
exams. Thanks to her historical academic feat, she was offered a scholarship to pursue her studies in medicine at United Kingdom.
Her academic achievements remain stellar throughout her years in the UK, apart from pursuing medicine, she also has an Intercalated Degree in Pharmacology with Industrial Experience, Masters in Clinical Science - Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the list goes on.
Fast forward to 2018, she’s now a Specialty Trainee Surgeon
at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
who does general, vascular, and trauma surgeries. The fashionable 30-year-old aspires to be a specialist surgeon in breast cancer and oncoplasty one day. She was also involved in treating victims of the Westminster and London Bridge terrorist attack in 2017.
#3 Maritime Lieutenant Aida Arzahari
Women working in the defense line of a country isn’t a rare sight, but a woman commanding a maritime ship is something unheard of – because it has never happened before. But not until Maritime Lieutenant Aida Arzahari stepped up to the plate.
The 35-year-old created history after she was appointed as the first woman to command a Malaysian Martime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) ship
. She is now in charge of MMEA’s KM Nyalau and will be based in Lumut, Perak. The Perlis-born commander also has a Degree in Accountancy from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).
In an interview with Berita Harian
, Aida says that she hopes her success will “be an inspiration to other women to stand out and achieve great success” even if they are in a field monopolised by men.
“We should show that women are also equally capable of protecting the country.”
#4 Professor Datuk Dr. Aileen Tan
A lot of notable figures had places or streets named after them, but how many can actually say that they’ve had an entire species named after them? A marine biologist from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) achieved one of the greatest scientific honours ever after a new species of mangrove swamp slug was named after her
The new species, Melayonchis aileenae,
was among four new species found during a research in Matang, Perak. The slug is also a very rare species which belongs to the snail family. Professor Aileen has devoted 30 years to researching and studying slugs. Amazing, right? If it was us, we’d run just at the sight of it.
#5 Hafizah Noor Isa
While many of you out there are trying to prove to your partner that you are right, this Kelantan-born woman proved something that would contribute greatly in the scientific world – she helped prove Albert Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves
Hafizah was part of a group of scientists who made the “scientific breakthrough of the century” by contributing to the scientific paper "Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger"
. The PhD student contributed via her GEO600 experiment which studies the worldwide network of gravitational wave detectors.
The findings also received praises from the one and only Stephen Hawking
, who dubbed the finding as “the holy grail of science”.
#6 Kiki Poh
Almost everyone knows that all the awesome animated movies mostly came from Disney/Pixar, but did you know that a Malaysian woman also worked on some of them? Johorean Kiki Poh is currently serving as a Shading and Grooming Technical Director
at Pixar Animation Studios, California.
She is also the first ever Malaysian to be hired by Pixar!
The mother of one worked on movies such as Toy Story 3, Monster’s University, Finding Dory, Inside Out, Cars 3,
and also on the upcoming Incredibles 2
The 40-year-old Johorean was also appointed the leader of a team who oversaw the shading of the characters in Cars 3
#7 Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim
Imagine having your name in the same sentence as the words ‘NASA’ and ‘satellite launch’. This would seem like a dream for someone who started out cleaning microscope glass slides but the mundane job ended up helping Dr. Wan Wardatul Amani Wan Salim land a job at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In 2014, the Penangite became the first Malaysian ever to launch a NASA satellite to space
. Not only that, she was entrusted to lead a team of 28 scientists, technologists, and engineers during the operation.
Dr. Wan and her team were working on NASA’s first ever astrobiology programme where they studied how living cells would respond to a lack of gravity. She was also awarded the Thora Halstead “Young Investigator” award
for contributions to gravitational and space research.
#8 Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin
Whenever someone has an aspiration to reach their dreams, people would normally tell them to go for it because the sky’s the limit. But for one Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) flight instructor, the sky isn’t the limit; in fact, it’s her ‘playground’.
Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin made history not only in Malaysia but across continents after she became the first Asian female fighter pilot to fly the MiG-29
. She also holds the record as the first ever woman to become a qualified MiG-29 fighter pilot in the world!
The 41-year-old said in an interview
that she’s proud to defend our country and also bear the Malaysian flag on her uniform wherever she goes as it represents our national squadron which has served and protected the nation.
We hope that all these wonder women will be an inspiration to all other females out there in reaching their dreams and also break barriers in fields that are mostly dominated by men. Remember ladies, we are capable of doing so much more for the world just like what Beyoncé said - "Who runs the world? Girls!"
Happy International Women’s Day to all Malaysian women who has contributed to their family and nation.