Sabah women showed leadership since 1880s

Kota Kinabalu: The leadership role of Sabahan women can be traced back to colonial times, as evident through an 1886 British North Borneo Herald clipping that depicted a wealthy Dusun woman at the village of Terawi, said Museum Director Joanna Kitingan.

“The head woman, who was said to be of ‘considerable intelligence’ served as a peacemaker between Bruneian tax collectors, the Bajaus and also the Dusuns around Putatan and was conferred the title ‘Mentri Babu’ (an advisory role to the British government),” she added after the opening of the ‘Women in History’ exhibition at the State Museum in conjunction with its Golden Jubilee celebration.

The British North Borneo Herald was the-then British Admiral’s written record of his endeavours in the region.

The descendants of Si Limpai was graciously invited by the museum during the event which will showcase the documentation of the earlier roles of women in the State, especially during the colonial times throughout this year.

Joanna, who had personally undertaken the task to collect the documentation available on women in the State, said the exhibition had been an opportunity to gather material for a proposed museum for the fairer sex.

This was the maiden effort to amass all-things-women for public viewing, she said. She also credited traditional women healers – Bobolian and Bobohizan, who had an equal status as the men during olden times, for their roles in the community.

The event was officiated by the Minister of Community Development and Consumers Affairs Datuk Jainab Ahmad. Jainab lauded the celebration of women in history through the exhibition, which showed the group’s struggle over the years.

She also urged all women entrepreneurs to stay focused and conduct proper research to excel in business. “I have suggested that local products be exported to foreign countries and we are looking at the feasibility of this,” she said.

Also present was the State Attorney-General Datuk Hajah Mariati Robert, who is the president of Sabah Women Advisory Council (MPWS).

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