In 2010, Marie Claire had the privilege to meet with the late Irene Fernandez for a feature entitled, You’ve Never Met These Women…But They Have Done So Much For You, where she talked about her experience and determination in making a change for the groups she felt were marginalised in Malaysia. The story was written by our Features Editor at the time, Shanti Ganesan.
Irene Fernandez was an activist who fought hard for the rights of the less fortunate and oppressed including migrants, refugees, sex workers and AIDS sufferers, sometimes at great personal risk. She championed various causes, not least a consumer programme for rural women as well as campaigns against violence and abuse of women.
Born in 1946, Irene started off her career as a teacher. In 1972, she became the National President of the Young Christian Workers Movement. It was the inception of Tenaganita in 1991, founded by Irene, that cemented her life’s work. Her enduring efforts did not go unnoticed- she was the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Amnesty International award in 1998 and the International PEN award in 2000.
Irene passed away on Monday the 31st of March, at 67, from heart failure. Marie Claire would like to pay tribute to one of our country’s finest daughters with the original article featured in our magazine back in 2010. May you rest in peace, Irene.
[edited by Mindy Teh]