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First Of Their Kind: Malaysian Women Who Were First To Dominate Their Field

Numero uno, baby!


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First Of Their Kind: Malaysian Women Who Were First To Dominate Their Field
Malaysian Business/Berita Harian/NST

Salute 'em wonder women.


A doting mother. A caring wife. A filial daughter. A career-driven woman. A hardworking housewife. An affectionate grandmother. An adorable daughter. A kind aunt. A loving step mother.

Women is the epitome of multi-tasking and they play all these different roles in life and many more. It is not an exaggeration to say that there is probably nothing we can do to repay all their contributions towards growth.

In honouring them, the International Women’s Day is celebrated globally every 8 March to mark women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

Celebrating all wonder women out there.
International Women’s Day reportedly first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the 20th century in North America and across Europe. The day has been observed since the early 1900's and is still celebrated until today.

In Malaysia, many organisations incorporate this day into their calendar by conducting women-related activities and events to celebrate their success.

In Malaysia, we have our own share of women who became the first of their gender to excel in their respective fields, while breaking records along the way, of course. 

Here are some of them:

Dato Sri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail 

Dr Wan Azizah leading the way.
First female deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia

Dato Sri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, a familiar name among Malaysians, created history when she became the country’s first female deputy prime minister after the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the last general election.

On top of that, she also became the first woman to chair the Cabinet Meeting in September last year, in the absence of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who went New York to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly at that time.

The mother of six children and grandmother of nine grandchildren, has a gold medal in obstetrics and gynaecology and is a qualified ophthalmologist. 

Major Patricia Yapp Syau Yin

Don't mess with Major Patricia.
First female fighter jet pilot in Asia

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!

Yapp became interested in flying after her brother became a pilot. She reportedly applied for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) cadet programme without her parents’ knowledge because she was studying law at that time but didn’t like it one bit.

She graduated from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia with a diploma in Aeronautical Engineering in year 2000 and chose to be a fighter pilot upon completing her flight training in 2002.

Datuk Yvonne Chia

Datuk Yvonne Chia is a real-life superwoman.
First female CEO of a commercial bank

A high-flying businesswoman and banker, Datuk Yvonne Chia became the first woman to assume the position of chief executive officer of a commercial bank (RHB) in the year 1996, at the age of 43.

During the Asian financial crisis, she reportedly also became the CEO of Sime Bank too as she impressively managed both banks during the crisis. For her efforts, she was awarded the CEO Eagle Pin, becoming the first woman in Malaysia to be conferred the award.

She is currently the CEO of the Shell Refining Company in Malaysia.

Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman

Brains and brawn.
Malaysia's first astrophysicist

Datuk Dr. Mazlan Othman is Malaysia’s first astrophysicist. She was the founding director of the Malaysian National Space Agency (Angkasa) and has played a huge role in sending Malaysia’s first astronaut, Datuk Dr. Sheik Muszaphar Shukor, to space. 

She was also the Director of the United Nations (UN) Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna from 2010 to 2014 and her responsibilities include servicing the intergovernmental process, discharging the responsibilities of the UN secretary-general under the UN treaties and principles of outer space and implementing the UN Programme on Space Applications (PSA).

Nur Izzati Athirah Mohammad Yusoff

Call her Aquawoman.
First female underwater welder

Nur Izzati is the first female underwater welder in the country. Underwater welder is reportedly described as one of the world’s most dangerous jobs as it involves working in a deep and risky environment with minimal visibility. That practically makes Nur Izzati a hero!

Nur Izzati studied at Kolej Vokasional Taiping in Kamunting, Taiping, Perak where she was the only female student who studied welding there in 2013. She also took up underwater welding course at the Weldzone Training Centre in Seri Manjung, Perak, and now works as an assistant instructor at the centre while being an underwater welder.

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